By Fatoumata Njie
Washington, DC 23rd April 2020 – Award-winning scientist, Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan of Liberia has said that, “any trials of COVID-19 vaccine must be done under internationally acceptable scientific standards as a multicenter trial and that Africans should not be singled out as subjects for COVID-19 vaccine trials.”
Dr. Nyan, on 13th April, made the statement during the weekly meeting of the Diaspora COVID-19 Focus Group, a group of African medical and public health professionals providing expert advice to various African countries since the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic in December 2019.
In an interview by a panel of journalists via Zoom on 16th April, Dr. Nyan reiterated his expert opinion on vaccine-trials stating that, “vaccines prevent diseases and save lives as we have experienced with polio, mumps, measles, rubella and tuberculosis vaccines over the years,” adding that, “the trials that produced these vaccines were done under ethical scientific standards and same should be applied to any COVID-19 vaccines trials in Africa or anywhere.”
The renowned scientist, Dr. Nyan, further stated that, “in Africa, we need to put in place strong medical regulatory bodies like Institutional Review Boards (IRB) and Data Safety Monitoring Boards (DSMB) that will serve as ethical protectors of our vulnerable population and as gate-keepers for any trials of new drugs or vaccines intended to be carried out anywhere in Africa.”
“Once we establish these institutions like the IRBs and DSMBs, we as African scientists will be the ones to evaluate any formulation and approve or reject its application on the African continent. Therefore, nothing will be forced on us by anybody, not even by neocolonial scientists,” Dr. Nyan, also a pan-Africanist emphasized.
Dr. Nyan’s perspective comes in the wake of what has been regarded as “remarks of racist undertone” made by two French scientists, Dr. Jean-Paul Mira, head of ICU services at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, and Camille Locht, research director for France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), that the COVID-19 vaccines should be tested on Africans. The two French scientists have since apologized for their remarks.
“We are reminded of the 1930 ‘Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male’ in the and we don’t want that ever repeated on the Black race anywhere in the world,” Dr. Nyan mentioned.
According the CNN, the World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, condemned the controversial comments made by the French doctors about testing a Covid-19 potential treatment in Africa, calling the remarks a ‘hangover from a colonial mentality.’”
During the Ebola outbreak of 2014, Dr. Nyan served as a voluntary-unpaid member of the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSM) for the global Ebola vaccine trial that took place in the United States, Liberia, Guinea, Spain and other countries. The trial continued in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and successfully resulted in an effective and safe vaccine for Ebola today. The Ebola vaccine trial DSMB was headed by Dr. Dr. Lisa Cooper, a renowned Liberian medical doctor who was recently named Director of Urban Health Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Dr. Nyan has employed his infectious disease expertise in East Africa, warned African governments against the use of the faulty COVID-19 testing kits from the US Centers for Disease Control, cautioned against the use of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine in Africa for COVID-19 treatment and carried out continent-wide COVID-19 Pandemic Awareness.
Dr. Nyan offered his expertise to the Liberian government and Africa to produce Africa’s COVID-19 testing kits. While the Liberian government did not respond to Dr. Nyan’s offer, Ethiopia and Rwanda have since expressed interest. He is the inventor of the US patented Rapid Multiplex Diagnostic Test for many infectious diseases, including COVID-19.