“We are NOT vaccine guinea pigs”: South Africans protest testing vaccine on poor, vulnerable Africans

Protesters rallying against Africa’s first potential coronavirus vaccine have accused researchers of “manipulating the vulnerable” into volunteering for testing of Oxford University’s vaccine. 

Around 2,000 people in South Africa have volunteered to take part in the Johannesburg trial.

But demonstrators gathering at the University of the Witwatersrand, where the trial is based, burned their masks and claimed tests were being carried out on poor people who don’t understand the risks.

“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 Phasha said ahead of the event. 

“We believe they are manipulating the vulnerable,” the activist and political commentator added

The trial that began last week in Johannesburg is part of one already underway in Britain of the vaccine developed at the University of Oxford.

Phasha is adamant that researchers must first ensure the vaccine works elsewhere before bringing it to Africa

“The narrative we got is our continent is a dumping ground,” she said, referring to the widely circulated remarks made earlier this year by French researcher Jean-Paul Mira.

Mira had said: “Shouldn’t we be doing this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatments, no resuscitation?” and compared it to AIDS studies.