Two French doctors have sparked global outrage after suggesting on live TV that the world should test coronavirus vaccines on "Africans" before using them in other parts of the world.

Jean-Paul Mira, the head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, and Camille Locht, director of France's national health institute, Inserm, were talking about COVID-19 vaccines during a segment on French television channel LCI.

The two were discussing the BCG tuberculosis vaccine, which is currently being tested across Europe and Australia as a potential cure for the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

BCG is a common vaccination generally given to small children and babies in parts of the world battling tuberculosis. According to studies done by Inserm, some areas that use BCG have noticed lower death rates due to coronavirus, leading to an interest in potential testing for it as a way to fight COVID-19, BBC News reported.

"If I could be provocative, should we not do this study in Africa where there are no masks, treatment or intensive care, a little bit like it's done, by the way, for certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes? We try things because we know that they are highly exposed and they don't protect themselves," Mira asked Locht.

"You are right. And by the way, we are in the process of thinking in parallel about a study in Africa. We have already launched a call for bids and we are strongly considering the idea," Locht said in response.

Mira went on to generalize Africans, saying people across the continent were not using masks or treatments and "not protecting themselves."

The segment kickstarted a stream of responses from Black thinkers, actors, celebrities and athletes.

Soccer legend Didier Drogba, who is from the Ivory Coast but is a widely celebrated player in France, spoke out forcefully on Twitter.

It is totally inconceivable we keep on cautioning this. 
Africa isn’t a testing lab. 
I would like to vividly denounce those demeaning, false and most of all deeply racists words. 

Helps us save Africa with the current ongoing Covid 19 and flatten the curve.

— Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba) April 2, 2020

Cameroonian football legend Samuel Eto’o also released a statement on Facebook condemning the remarks, calling the doctor's "murderers" and slamming the doctors for treating Africa like a "playground."

Legal groups from Africa are seeking to sue Mira in a French court for his comments. 

People around the world were further outraged when the institutions behind both men gave differing, lukewarm defenses of their comments. The Paris network of hospitals released a statement on behalf of Mira to Reuters saying, "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."

Inserm, one of the most well-known health institutes in the world, refused to apologize for Locht's comments, writing in a Twitter post that it was "fake news." They claimed the vaccine is being tested in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain, adding that the doctor only meant that Africa "must not be forgotten nor excluded from research because the pandemic is global.”

"A truncated video, taken from 1 interview on @LCI from 1 of our researchers about the potential use of the vaccine #BCG against the #COVID19 is the subject of erroneous interpretations on social networks. Here are the good explanations," they wrote in a Twitter post that had two longer French statements attached. 

“Clinical trials to test the efficacy of the BCG vaccine against Covid-19 are… about to be launched in European countries and in Australia. If there is indeed a reflection around a deployment in Africa, it would be done in parallel with these. Africa must not be forgotten or excluded from research because the pandemic is global," Inserm's statement added. 

There are more than 7,000 cases of coronavirus across the African continent, and there have been over 300 confirmed deaths, according to Daily Mail.

On Monday, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the comments during a powerful interview, where he angrily denounced the medical professionals.

"Africa can't and won't be a testing ground for any vaccine. It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st Century, to hear from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen," said Ghebreyesus.