The photo of this drug has been circulating since the beginning of September mainly on French and English speaking African networks. On Twitter, this account which claims to be Pan-African explains for example “Africa must wake up, it is not a drug, it is a trap […] you are laboratory rats “.
Another Facebook account that claims to be Pan-African claims for its part “racist vaccination”.
Some sites like Babilown blog, administered by a Beninese Internet user exiled in France, also relayed the image by commenting: “Under apartheid, we used to say ‘reserved only for whites’; now we are aiming for the same result by implying ‘reserved only for Africans’. “
These publications, generally little relayed, nevertheless give rise to indignant comments around the theme of a “vaccine against Covid-19 tested in Africa”, a popular conspiracy theory on African networks regularly embellished by false images.
>> READ ON THE OBSERVERS: A test of the vaccine against Covid-19 on children in Senegal? What does this video really show?
What is the “Covifor”?
This drug does exist: as we can read on the label, Covifor is published by the Indian pharmaceutical company Hetero Drugs. On their site, we find some documents concerning this product which explain:
“Covifor (Remdesivir) is a generic antiviral drug. The drug has been approved only for the treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe symptoms of the disease. should only be administered intravenously in a hospital setting under the supervision of a healthcare professional “.
The drug is marketed since June in India, and costs between 5,000 and 6,000 rupees (between 57 and 68 euros) for 100 mg per dose.
“It is by no means a vaccine”
Contacted by our editorial staff, a representative of Hetero Drugs explains that he was alerted by representatives of his company in Zimbabwe who saw this visual circulating:
It is in no way a preventive drug, and therefore not a vaccine, but rather a treatment intended to relieve severe patients with Covid-19 during their hospitalization.
Last May, Hetero entered into a licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences Inc [le laboratoire américain qui fabrique le Remdevisir, NDLR], for the manufacture and distribution of Remdesivir. Under this license agreement, Hetero is authorized to supply this product in 127 countries covered by the license, subject to regulatory approvals in the respective countries. The statement “Do not distribute in the United States, Canada and the European Union” is in accordance with the anti-diversion clause and also to protect the product against black market practices.
We believe this photo is part of a malicious campaign to create unnecessary confusion about this product.
The Gilead license agreement thus allows “low-income and lower-middle-income” countries to have access to health care, according to the US laboratory’s website. In short, the agreement is a preferential measure to avoid excessively high prices for these drugs in poorer countries and allows a transfer of competence to rapidly develop the product.
In the list of countries licensed by Gilead, we do not actually find the United States, Canada, or any country in the European Union. On the other hand, European countries such as Georgia, Armenia and Belarus are present.
The Remdivisir marketed in Europe and the United States
While Indian Covifor is not sold in the European Union or in the United States, the antiviral Remdivisir is for its part authorized in both territories.
Last July, the European Union announced that it had signed a € 63 million contract to supply the antiviral to 27 European countries. The drug is intended to 30,000 patients with severe symptoms. The European Medicines Agency recommends its use in adults and adolescents from 12 years of age with pneumonia who need supplemental oxygen.
As for the United States, after having bought many stocks of chloroquine, the health authorities announced have acquired 92% of the production of Remdesivir between July and September for an equivalent of 500,000 treatments. The price of the drug has been set at 390 dollars per bottle, or about 328 euros, in all developed countries by the company Gilead.