Emory: Recruiting for minority participants in COVID-19 vaccine trials

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ATLANTA, GA. (WJBF) – With three phase 3 clinical trials underway for a coronavirus vaccine, researchers want more minorities to take part in the studies.

A new push now to increase participation with the most impacted population.

Atlanta Bureau Chief, Archith Seshadri, explains how Georgia doctors are helping fill the gaps.

Georgia’s state health department says half of covid19 deaths are people of color — mostly African American and Hispanic.

Dr. Carlos del Rio Emory University School of Medicine says, “The important of recruiting minorities is that the most affected parties are represented and if there are differences in those populations.”

But Emory doctors say not enough minorities are represented in vaccine trials.

“We are now applying that learning from HIV into covid and working with community groups, said Del Rio.

Health experts say it boils down to trust in communities of color — using examples of previous trials like HIV and syphilis.

Del Rio said, “I participated in an HIV study in which they say you cannot enroll another white person or 2 black or  Hispanic individuals.”

Researchers want to enroll people older than 65 and at least 30 percent of minorities in the covid19 vaccine studies.

Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Public Health Commissioner, Department of Health says, “I think we are seeing a disproportionate impact on communities of color. And so you look at look at living conditions – how they can isolate when they are living in a crowded situation?”

Dr. Carlos del RioEmory Univeristy School of Medicine says, “If and when we have a vaccine ready, if you did not have an enrollment of minorities, people will say why should I put a vaccine in myself, and the reality is we need minorities to be the first line in for the vaccine.”

Emory is partnering up with community groups to expand minority outreach.

Our recruitment team is primarily African American and Hispanic who can go to the community and go and look and talk to the community”, says Del Rio.

Doctors say the current trials are not enrolling kids under 18 so we won’t know how effective the vaccine will be on children.

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