A group of South Africans demonstrated last week against a Covid19 vaccine trial set to get underway in that country. The trial is being overseen by the GAVI Alliance, an international health organization that funds vaccination programs. It focuses mainly on poor countries.
The GAVI Alliance is heavily funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Protesters gathered in front of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where the testing is set to take place. They burned face masks and carried signs that rebuked GAVI’s choice of South Africans to be the subjects of the continent’s first clinical trials.
“#Gates we are not your lab rats,” one sign read, adding, “AFRICA is not your playground.”
“#No to Gates poison… we don’t want the gates of hell here,” blared another sign.
“We NOT guinea pigs… NO unsafe VACCINE,” declared another one.
The trial is seeking 2,000 volunteers between the ages of 18-65.
Protesters said ministers and elected officials should the volunteers instead.
“The people chosen as volunteers for the vaccination, they look as if they’re from poor backgrounds, not qualified enough to understand” protest organizer Phapano Pasha said. “We believe they are manipulating the vulnerable.”
“The narrative we got is our continent is a dumping ground,” Pasha added, citing comments made by French researcher Jean-Paul Mira earlier this year who asked, “Shouldn’t we be doing this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care, a little bit like we did in certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?”
Bill Gates has gotten his share of criticism from African countries recently. Officials in Nigeria have launched an investigation into an alleged $10 million bribe made by Gates to elected officials to win support for a medical records bill. The bill would allow the sharing of Nigerians’ medical records with corporations and other entities.