Finding the treatment for COVID-19 is a global medical emergency, which is necessary to avoid the death billions of people.
Gale Ure, University of the Witwatersrand
The search for a COVID-19 cure has created a global media controversy and negative comment regarding the potential harm towards the people who are taking part in these clinical trials once the research reaches its human testing stage.
Two french doctors ignited a strong wave of anger when they openly spoke on live TV that poor Africans should be the test subject of this coronavirus. The doctors later on asked for forgiveness regarding their suggesting that COVID-19 vaccine trials should be carried out on poor African people with limited resources and will not be able to protect themselves.
This statements was made by Camille Locht and Jean-Paul Mira and they fueled fire to a world already angered by the deep-rooted racial and economic discrimination.
Discrimination towards the previously colonised African countries came into focus, leading to the researchers to become the target of many popular people like Didier Drogba, a retired footballer, brought attention to the issue that African people are not guinea pigs that can be used in testing lab. Samuel Eto’o, who is also a retired footballer, said the doctors are “murderers”.
These comments lead to the launching of a social media program in the form of a Change.org petition to halt coronavirus trials to be conducted in Africa. There defence was that “Africa and developing countries have always been used as testing grounds of large pharmaceutical companies” taking advantage of the poor people.”
Compared to fake news, the resultant outcome of the French doctor’s racist comments was capture live for the world to see. Modern age clinical trials and researchs are highly monitored. In a Coronavirus world, scientific activity to invent a vaccine for global monitored closely. Seems like the cure can not be found a vaccine is the only reasonable means to control the devastating outcome of the disease. This vaccine will need to be tested on humans , and the world is watching. The French doctors’ racism, however, strongly reminded the African continent of previous medical stigmatism at the hands of European countries. The outcome was a great attack on scientific research.
Should Africa participate in a worldwit clinical trial? the answer is of course no.However t o refuse to participate can prevent African researchers from being important players in the global fight against the virus.
The harsh reaction from Africa was not fully without cause. There are some countries on the Africans continent were vaccines and medical research are viewed with doubt , and were both have been tied to activities, in the name of medicine, which were carried out in a grossly unhuman manner.
During a meningitis outbreak in Nigeria,Pfizer a pharmaceutical company carried out an experiment with an antit drug called Trovan and it carried out this test on 200 children and they had no proper consent. Another experiment was carried out again but this time it was done in Malawi.lt was during an AZT trial, even though there were many options available, a placebo was administered to pregnant women who was part of the trial. In research there is an ethical standard which state that a placebo, which is a substance which has no therapeutic benefit, should not be administered when trying to find the efficacy of a new drug or drug regimen in cases where there is another treatment available.
Due to all this that’s why some people are no longer willing to take part of these trials for they are afraid of being infected through these vaccines.
We admit that medical research and medicine in the past were involved in historical but these modern clinical trials look very different.
A changed environment
Globalisation in the past years has moved the trend in research activity from being carried out in developed countries to involve trials in low- and middle-income countries.
Research which is carried out in Africa is mainly sponsored by northern sponsors, with national academics and clinicians partnering in the research process. This has had an equal effect – sponsored projects help African research institutions to gain funding for their personal projects, to help in the publishing of results, and to upgrade research knowledge.
Ethical frameworks of these trials are very strict. International research organisations tries by all means to make sure that the participants are well taken care of and protected.
It is a fact that research is very risk, which is why there international codes were put into place to protect participants. Each nation has its own national legislation and standards to make sure that research is carried out ethically. This implies that that:
Every person in enrolled in a clinical trial should give their informed consent. Inorder for one to give informed consent, the entire process of the project must be clearly explained to the participant.All the possible harms and risk , as well as the outcome expected should be explained to him.When explaining to him you must use a language that the participate clearly understands.
Participants when enrolled should be given the chance to leave the project at any time.
If a participant’s withdraws the researcher may not use his personal information because it is confidential.
If any of the participants rights is breached there are agencies where the participant can lay a formal complaint.
After the research program all participants involved in it must be followed and there must be a plan in place to help any participant who requires additional care as a result of the trial.
COVID-19 medication trials are being conducted around the world. 1000 participants have already been recruited in Asia to test Remdesivir, this drug was developed by an American pharmaceutical company called Gilead. In America the first trials of the vaccine are being conducted on 45 participants.
Professional medical research activities are very crucial to make sure that pandemics like the Coronavirus tragedy can be handled.When all this is said should Africa still not be involved in the fight, it will be an indictment towards medical research’s basic foundation – to permit people to make a decision wether to be part of the solution or to deny on informed and solid grounds. The the other option is to sit idly by, as part of the global furture who are waiting to be saved