Demonstrators in South Africa Wednesday rallied against COVID-19 test trials being carried out by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s GAVI Alliance.
Protesters standing in front of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where the tests will take place burned their face masks and carried signs blasting GAVI’s choice of the South African people for 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,” another sign stated.
“We NOT guinea pigs… NO unsafe VACCINE,” declared another protest sign.
Another sign, simply said, “#Fuck the Vaccine.”
While Reuters described them as “anti-vaccine protesters,” one demonstrator said he argued instead for informed consent.
“Even if people are going to consent, it has to be informed consent,” said protest Sean Goss. “It’s a form of a violation of a person’s body.”
“But however, logic should tell me,” he continued, “if you want to test, test in the areas which they call the epicenters of the world, NOT the epicenter of South Africa.”
The protest’s organizer, Phapano Pasha, also told the Associated Press she’s not anti-vaccine, but feared the country’s uninformed population was being taken advantage of.
“I believe in science,” Pasha said. “And I believe that science has managed to solve most of the problems society is faced with. I’m not against vaccinations, I’m against profiteering.”
The trial seeks 2,000 volunteers between the ages of 18-65.
“The people chosen as volunteers for the vaccination, they look as if they’re from poor backgrounds, not qualified enough to understand” she said. “We believe they are manipulating the vulnerable.”
“The narrative we got is our continent is a dumping ground,” said Pasha, pointing to comments 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?”
The African resistance to COVID trials is causing a headache for the vaccine pushers, with GAVI CEO Seth Berkley telling a vaccine conference last week that anti-vaccine sentiment in the continent is “the worst I’ve ever seen.”