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Why experts remain ‘very concerned’ about the first COVID-19 vaccine trial

The COVID-19 vaccine trial might face a major issue when it comes to minority groups

Dr. Anthony Fauci — one of the country’s top infectious disease experts — said during a livestream interview with Healthline that he doesn’t see a vaccine being required by the U.S. government.
Dr. Anthony Fauci — one of the country’s top infectious disease experts — said during a livestream interview with Healthline that he doesn’t see a vaccine being required by the U.S. government.
Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr., Russian Direct Investment Fund via Associated Press

The first coronavirus vaccine trial has been moving along well. But experts worry that there might not be enough minorities involved in the trials, CNN reports.

  • Black and Latino people account for more than 50% of COVID-19 cases but only make up 15% of participants in the first large-scale clinic trial in the U.S., according to CNN.
  • This could delay a vaccine to the marketplace.

For example, Moderna — the first U.S. company to conduct a Phase 3 clinical trial — hopes to enroll 30,000 participants in the COVID-19 vaccine study. It already has about 8,300.

A low percentage of minorities might not help get the vaccine released by early 2021, according to CNN.

“There’s a lot of discussion now about how Moderna can change the direction of their ship so they can optimize the enrollment of key populations.” — Dr. Nelson Michael, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, who has been assigned to work with Operation Warp Speed.

Similarly, The New England Journal of Medicine revealed in new research that the trials lack Black and indigenous people and people of color despite their higher rates of coronavirus infection.

“Lack of diversity in clinical trials may stem from long-standing medical distrust on the part of minority communities, but the problem may be compounded by cost (in particular, hidden costs for such requirements as fuel, parking, meals and lodging), poor health literacy, lack of information, language barriers, limited accessibility and implicit biases against minorities” — researchers noted, according to University of Georgia.

Researchers hope more minorities will volunteer for the studies to help push the trials along.