The US COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Are Halfway Enrolled, But Lag On Participant Diversity

by StartupWorld Staff         

An American multinational pharmaceutical corporation, Pfizer and biotechnological firm, Moderna, running in the race of coronavirus vaccine, has unveiled that more than half of the candidates required for the 30,000 person trials represent the final phase of testing. However, nearly a fifth of participants are from Hispanic and Black communities, who are hit hardest by the virus — lagging what several experts stated that it should be the mere minimum of diversity. 

Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's federal HIV Vaccine Trials Network's executive director James Kublin stated that in the online open registration, where people can express their interest in vaccine trials, have listed nearly 350,000 volunteers — comprising only about 10 to 11% Hispanic and Black people as per late last week. The HIV trials network has been reused to test coronavirus vaccines. 

They are working a bit upward, in the effortful task to make the representation of studies about the US's diversity. This also moves into the historical legacy of not only discrimination but of entirely unethical medical practices over the minority communities, James Kublin added.

At a minimum, manufacturing vaccine trials mirroring the ethnic and racial breakdown of the American population, comprising nearly one-third of total Black, Native American, and Hispanic community, has been a significant focus. It is necessary for ensuring that any vaccine effectively works for everyone and is highly accepted. The present number of enrolled people fall behind even that target.

The US COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Are Halfway Enrolled, But Lag On Participant Diversity

In recent weeks, the scientific circles' debate majorly focused on how trials for a coronavirus vaccine requires to go beyond just reflecting the construction of the nation's population. Despite this, a few scientists have argued that the enrollment efforts should reflect the uneven burden of hospitalizations, disease, and deaths borne by Hispanic, Black, and Native American communities.

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research's Center for Infectious Disease Research director Nelson Michael said that their main intention is to make a vaccine effective and safe for all Americans. Since there's a disturbing burden of disease and the enrolled people are based on census numbers is a minimum target. He personally doesn't think they should get below the number.

Nelson Michael is currently working on community engagement for vaccine trials in the federal program, Operation Warp Speed, to rush the vaccine development and treatments.

The thing which I can tell you is that currently, a lot of people are investing a lot of time, in an effort to ensure that they can move the needle away from that minimal target to something better than that, Nelson Michael said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 cases rates are over 2.5 times higher among Hispanic, Black, and Native American communities as in the White community, and 4 to 5 times higher hospitalization rates. 

Death rates from COVID-19, the illness arose due to the coronavirus, are two-fold as high in Black communities and 1.4 times higher in Native American communities, when compared with the White community.

Moderna, the American biotechnology company, has collaborated with the federal government for developing a coronavirus vaccine, unveiled on 26th August over a call with investors that it had enrolled 15,239 people in its trial. Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics have accounted for 19% of those participants, as per the company.

American pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, is also more than halfway through enrollment, and 19% of the participants are Hispanic or Black, and 4% are Asian, Pfizer's Vaccine Clinical Research and Development senior director Nicholas Kitchin told a CDC advisory committee.


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