Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Black Americans to line up for coronavirus vaccines during an online discussion with a coalition of Black doctors, faith leaders and academics — a task he acknowledged is clouded by Blacks’ justified wariness of the medical community.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases participated Tuesday in the Facebook Live event alongside Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick and Dr. Reed Tuckson, founder of the Black Coalition Against COVID-19.
Fauci conceded that the Black community’s hesitance to take the vaccine is understandable given past atrocities such as the Tuskegee experiment, in which Black men were unknowingly denied medical treatment after being infected with syphilis by the U.S. government.
But with federal approval imminent for vaccines by drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer, Fauci stressed that the benefit outweighs the risk.
“The terrible and shameful things that happened a long time ago are inexcusable,” Fauci said, CBS News reported. “It would be doubly tragic that the lingering effects of that prevent you from doing something so important.
“The time is now to put skepticism aside,” he said. “You’ll be saving yourself and your family illness, as well as that of your community.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that Black Americans are nearly three times more likely to die from the virus than whites. So far, the U.S. has more than 15 million coronavirus cases and more than 287,000 related deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
“By bringing someone like Dr. Fauci to a conversation with the community, we hope that the community will have a chance to inform Dr. Fauci about some of the issues and concerns that they have,” Tuckson told CBS News before the event. “We also hope that questions that community-based leaders have, they’ll propose those and they’ll get answers from Dr. Fauci. But more than anything, I think it’s a two-way learning process.”
Fauci, who said he would be “perfectly comfortable” with him and his family taking the vaccine, alluded to the work of colleague Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Black scientist who leads the National Institutes of Health’s vaccine research and has been integral in developing the Moderna vaccine.
“The first thing you might wanna say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman — and that’s just a fact,” Fauci said, CBS reported. “I think that’s one of the things that people don’t fully appreciate.”