novel coronavirus
novel coronavirus

On March 30, 2020, an American company L.E.A.F Pharmaceuticals (Lifting and Empowering All Families), based in the United States, has announced that it will conduct clinical trials of a vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Rwanda. Dr Charles Karangwa, director of Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) confirmed that this company had received the necessary authorizations to start its experiments.

Africans rightly screamed at the scandal on social media and in online media. The crucial question is how these clinical trials will be carried out in an African country, such as Rwanda when the country has only about seventy patients compared to European countries like Italy or even the USA where this pandemic is killing thousands. Rwanda has so far registered 70 cases of people who tested positive of the virus and are currently in isolation and undergoing treatment. On Monday March 30, 2020, no new cases were registered with the Ministry of Health stating that none of the 70 is in critical condition.

Another cause for concern is how quickly LEAF has obtained the necessary approvals. In the normal strict application of the preliminary protocols to this kind of experiments, there should be long consultations between the national actors and (Order of doctors and pharmacists, National committee of ethics, specialists in pulmonary diseases, medicine of disasters, .. ), international organisations (WHO) and the authorities of the country concerned, not to slow down or delay research, but to ensure that the product will not have harmful consequences for the health of the population. In Rwanda, these consultative meetings never took place. The decision went like a letter to the post. Even the Minister of Health has been left speechless when it is up to him, as the highest health authority, to announce this initiative which has immeasurable implications for the lives of Rwandans.

How can this be explained? Dr David Himbara, the former economic advisor to Paul Kagame, tells us that Clet Niyikiza, the Director of LEAF Pharmaceuticals, is a henchman for the Rwandan president.

In fact, in 2009, Paul Kagame raised more than $ 22 million from the Rwandan pension funds (Rwanda Social Security Board, formerly Social Fund of Rwanda). He paid them into the American company Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, which has among its shareholders, Michael Fairbanks and Michael Porter, two eminent members of its Presidential Advisory Council (PAC).

As part of the agreement governing this “Rwandan” investment, Clet Niyikiza, also a member of the PAC, joined Merrimack as senior vice-president in 2009. Without any explanation, Niyikiza left this multinational pharmaceutical company in 2014 and formed his own company, LEAF Pharmaceuticals LLC. Nobody knows what has become of the 22 million dollars invested by Rwanda. Is it the money that Niyikiza used to start her own business, with Kagame as the filigree investor? And now the corona virus is becoming a gold mine for President Paul Kagame, Clet Niyikiza interposed. Indeed, this vaccine is a big-money deal. Millions of dollars have been spent to research the vaccine. This is why to benefit from it, Rwanda will expose its population to the financial interests of one man, Paul Kagame. And this is how Clet Niyikiza takes to the air on national television to announce the “good news”. Who else could authorize it if not the all-powerful Rwandan president?

It is worth pointing out that Clet Niyikiza, the Director of LEAF Pharmaceuticals is not a doctor. Clet obtained a doctorate in Mathematics the United States then entered the pharmaceutical sector. In 1991 he was at Syntex Corporation acquired by Roche Holding AG; between 1993 and 2005, he worked for Eli Lilly, a biopharmaceutical company; from 2005 to 2009, he was Vice President of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the ten giants of the global pharmaceutical industry, and from 2009 to 2014, he was Executive Vice President of Merrimack Pharmaceuticals.

In 2011, the American company Merck received authorization to vaccinate more than 100,000 Rwandan girls around the age of 12 who were in grade 6 of primary school. In school centres, they were aligned and against their will, were injected with Gardasil, a vaccine supposed to fight against cervical cancer, but whose side effects were still far from being sufficiently controlled. What is suspected is that these 100,000 young girls have served as guinea pigs in this laboratory. What should be noted is that behind this massive unprecedented vaccination campaign – Rwanda was the first African country to administer this vaccine on a large scale on its population – however, as a strict secrecy deal. The pharmaceutical giant Merck had offered Rwanda free 2 million doses. But under what conditions were these massive vaccination facilities granted?

We also remember acts of compulsory male sterilization under the cover of circumcision supposedly to fight against AIDS. Had it not been for the vigilance of human rights NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, this criminal act would have taken its toll. In fact, HRW had then reminded the Rwandan government that the compulsory vasectomy which it applies to its male population is a devaluing, coercive practice which denies humans their reproductive health rights and therefore should be stopped.

With the corona virus, Rwanda will also be one of the first African countries, even in the world, to test the vaccine against this pandemic. How is this possible? If Rwanda was chosen to test the corona virus vaccine, it is because President Paul Kagame is a licensed dictator and that the modus operandi is prowled for this kind of shenanigans. Will the population to be vaccinated be voluntary or will we summon the population, group them together and vaccinate them on the line as was done for the poor young girls mentioned above?

Gaspard Musabyimana

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