Jean-Paul Mira, a French doctor, has apologised for suggesting that a potential COVID-19 treatment be brought to Africa for testing — a remark that sparked outrage on social media.

Mira, who is the intensive care unit (ICU) head at the Cochin hospital in Paris, had made the remark during an interview on French television channel LCI.

But, according to Reuters, the Paris network of hospitals, Mira’s employers, released a statement reported to be from the controversial ICU head containing his apology for the inciting comment.

“I want to present all my apologies to those who were hurt, shocked and felt insulted by the remarks that I clumsily expressed on LCI this week,” the apology read in part.

Camille Locht, a research director with Inserm, France’s national health institute, had been on TV with Mira to discuss the ongoing tests for BCG tuberculosis vaccine as a potential COVID-19 cure.

“Should we not do this study in Africa, where there are no masks, treatment or ICU, a little bit like it’s done, by the way, for certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?,” Mira had asked teasingly.

“We try things because we know that they are highly exposed and they don’t protect themselves.”

In his reply, Locht said: “You are right. We are in the process of thinking in parallel about a study in Africa. That doesn’t prevent us from also thinking about a study in Europe and in Australia.”

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