Thursday, June 18, 2020

A COVID-19 vaccine will work only if trials include Black participants, experts say

“The reasons I hear African Americans will not participate are heartbreaking and disappointing. I have heard about the Tuskegee experiment a lot.”

Dr. Nita Patel, director of antibody discovery and vaccine development, lifts a vial with a potential coronavirus vaccine at Novavax labs in Rockville, Md., in March 2020.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP - Getty Images file

By Curtis Bunn

Calethia Hodges has an arduous task: persuade Black people who have a deep mistrust of experimental drugs and medical institutions to participate in clinical trials to help find a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus.

It is quite the paradox. African Americans have been disproportionately devastated by COVID-19, but they are inadequately represented in human studies that would treat a disease that has claimed more than 116,000 lives in the United States. Almost a quarter of those were Black, according to a study called Color of Coronavirus by APM Research Lab.

"And that's why I do what I do," said Hodges, a clinician at Infinite Clinical Trials outside Atlanta. "And that's why I am here, in this neighborhood that is predominantly African American."  Read more >>