Leaders in the fight against Covid-19, clockwise from top left: Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Debra Fraser-Howze, Dr. Michelle Nichols, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, Dr. Ala Stanford, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett.

These Black women are on the frontlines of the fight against Covid-19

Updated 1451 GMT (2251 HKT) March 2, 2021

(CNN)They have administered Covid-19 vaccines on college campuses, provided testing at churches and spent long hours in labs developing an effective vaccine.

Some have given up their regular jobs and personal free time to do this work.
Black women have been at the helm of the nation's fight against the pandemic since the coronavirus hit US soil a little over one year ago.
For many of them, it's personal. Black women doctors and health advocates tell CNN they feel obligated to step up as people from their own communities face higher death and hospitalization rates.
They are also determined to use their platforms and credibility to combat vaccine hesitancy and prevent further devastation among Black and brown people.
Here are the stories of six Black women who are on the frontlines of the ongoing battle against Covid-19.

She went into Black neighborhoods of Philadelphia and began testing people

Dr. Ala Stanford, founder of the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium
Dr. Ala Stanford was at home quarantining with her family in Philadelphia last spring when she started getting phone calls from friends who were sick but couldn't get a Covid-19 test. Many were being rejected from testing sites because they didn't have referrals from their primary care doctors, or they didn't have cars and were walking up to drive-thru locations.
Stanford, a pediatric surgeon, said she immediately became concerned, especially with new data showing Black people were dying from Covid-19 at higher rates than White people.
So she sprung into action.
Stanford called up friends who were doctors and medical students, gathered all of the masks and gloves she had, ordered testing kits, rented a van and went out into Black neighborhoods and started testing people.
In the following weeks, Stanford's operation would grow and she officially established the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium. The organization began partnering with churches and setting up mobile testing sites at parks to ensure Philadelphia's Black community had access to tests.
"I wanted us to be the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium on purpose so that people knew that we as Black healthcare professionals care about your life," Stanford said in an interview with CNN. "And even though no one else is getting a test to you or coming to your neighborhood, we are coming to your neighborhood."
The group recently began offering Covid-19 vaccines in hard-hit areas of Philadelphia. Stanford said her mission is to help people of color who are elderly, vulnerable or have no other options for getting the vaccine.
So far Stanford said the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium has tested more than 24,000 people and vaccinated more than 16,000. The organization hosted a 24-hour "Vaxathon" event last month during which it administered the shot to nearly 4,000 people, surpassing Philadelphia's daily vaccination average of 3,500 doses per day.
Stanford, who tested positive herself for Covid-19 antibodies last October, said she feels encouraged by the influx of Black people who have been signing up to get the vaccine from her organization.
However, she believes many Black Americans remain hesitant to get the shot due to a lack of information and fear of long-term health impacts.
Stanford said she tells people the risk of getting Covid-19 outweighs the risk of taking the vaccine.
"Some things you're not going to have answers to," Stanford said. "But we can deal with the present right now and know that without it (the vaccine), more people will lose their lives, more people will be confined to the house, we will continue to have liberties that we want taken from us for our survival."

She helped develop Moderna's coronavirus vaccine