The COVID-19 Prevention Network, an organization formed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, will host an event Thursday to urge African Americans to participate in vaccine trials.

The event, “COVID in Black,” will be an interactive discussion in which participants can communicate via Zoom and Facebook with African American doctors and experts, CNN reported.

While minority participation in vaccine trials has increased in the past month, the rate isn’t at the level public health leaders would like. The network has taken out advertisements to encourage people of color participation in the trials.

The online events will be held monthly, according to Stephaun Wallace, the network’s director of external relations, CNN reported.

During Thursday’s event, Wallace said the experts will share information about the current and planned trials urging Blacks to participate and to take the vaccine when it becomes available.

“Having conversations in communities about Black folks’ engagement in medicine establishments is really a part of this as well,” Wallace said, CNN reported.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the institute and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, says Black participation in vaccine trials should be at least 27 percent.

Black participation in drug company Moderna’s vaccine trials is at 13 percent as of the week of Sept. 14, while Pfizer’s U.S. trial participants consist of eight percent African Americans, CNN reported.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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  1. Because Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, one would think that they would be inclined to want to receive a vaccination as soon as it’s available. Unfortunately, this is not the case due to a long history of distrust between Black Americans and the medical community. More effort should be placed on encouraging African American participation in Covid-19 clinical trials. African Americans are the least represented racial/ethnic group in the COVID-19 clinical trials. How effective will the vaccine be on us if there isn’t enough data from clinical trials on how the vaccine interacts with us. if we don’t participate in the trials meant to establish vaccine safety and effectiveness, we will never know whether the vaccines will work for us.
    There is growing evidence that supports the fact that drugs have different effects on different populations, whether for environmental or genetic reasons. A good example is the leading Asthma drug albuterol, which has been shown to have little to no impact on African American and Puerto Rican users, but works perfectly on White and European users. A study published in the American Journal of respiratory and critical care medicine showed that in the U.S., Puerto Rican and African-American children – who also have the highest prevalence of asthma nationwide – respond least well to these life-saving drugs.
    Despite efforts by black doctors and researchers to improve African American participation, a recent BDO poll showed that about 80% of African Americans stated that they will not be taking the vaccines. This is not surprising given that a lot of African American politicians, pastors and celebrities have been part of the anti-covid-19 vaccine movement. Several rappers and black social media influencers have been promoting anti vaccine videos on social media. Almost everyone I know has told me “I don’t think I want to be a guinea pig,” or “Why would I want to take this poison?” I understand that the Lack of diversity in these clinical trials stems from long-standing medical distrust and suspicion on the part of African Americans, however we should not assume that everyone is resistant to vaccines because there are several other factors such as, lack of appropriate outreach and poor health literacy which need to addressed. Are we designing and pushing the campaign to get African Americans into clinical trials enough so we’re reaching all communities, or are we just assuming that everyone is tarnished by the historical events that have destroyed our trust in the healthcare system?
    Burchard EG, Avila PC, Nazario S, Casal J, Torres A, Rodriguez-Santana JR, et al.; Genetics of Asthma in Latino Americans (GALA) Study. Lower bronchodilator responsiveness in Puerto Rican than in Mexican subjects with asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2004;169:386–392.

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