If coronavirus vaccine trials want to recruit more people of color, teams will need to work on outreach and building trust, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
“That the means more physicians, nurses and health providers of color will have to talk to the general public. That means communicating to communities where we are which is much more difficult because of us being sequestered in our homes. It means in many ways reaching out in a very, very assertive, aggressive and proactive manner to identify people that could be part of these studies,” he told CNN’s Poppy Harlow.
Currently, researchers are saying they are struggling to recruit a sufficient number of minorities to join the clinical trials, which could delay the multi-billion-dollar effort to get a coronavirus vaccine to market in time.
Of the 350,000 people who've registered online for a coronavirus clinical trial, 10% are Black or Latino, according to Dr. Jim Kublin, executive director of operations for the Covid-19 Prevention Network.
That's not nearly enough, as study subjects in trials are supposed to reflect the population that's affected. Research shows that more than half of US coronavirus cases have been among Black and Latino people.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, gave the Moderna trial, the first in Phase 3 in the United States, a "C" grade for recruiting minorities.
To reach out to minorities and recruit them for clinical studies, "we have to undermine the structural foundations of racism," including housing segregation, unequal access to health care and income inequality, Benjamin said.
“It means putting people of color in leadership positions so that people in the room that are making those decisions can have the full scope of experiences that are necessary to make informed decisions,” he said.