Morgan Minix, Howard University News Service
Howard University partnered with Maryland based biotechnology company, Novavax last month in order to create a diverse pool of COVID-19 trial vaccine recipients.
The partnership establishes Howard University as a site of Novavax’s phase 3 clinical trial with the intention of including Black, Latino, and other vulnerable populations in the vaccine development process.
According to research by The Covid Tracking Project, Black people have died at 1.5 times the rate compared to White people from complications related to Covid-19. In many instances, coronavirus data relating to minority communities has been under reported.
Along with higher mortality rates, black people are receiving the Covid vaccine at much lower rates. A new CNN survey found that 49 percent of Black adults plan to get the vaccine with 19 percent of those people saying they will get it right away and 31% preferring to wait.
Dr. Patricia N. Whitley-Williams was quoted in the CNN piece saying, “The survey findings underscore the need to build trust in vaccines and the health care system among Black adults.”
Many African Americans cite past mispractice and specific cases like Henrietta Lacks and the Tuskegee Study as to why they are hesitant to take the vaccine.
According to Dr. Carla Williams, associate professor of Medicine and Public Health at Howard University, trials like the one undertaken by Howard and Novavax are here to allay these fears.
“I do think it will make people more comfortable knowing that there was a real concerted effort to make sure that the study participants represented a wide range of diversity and that’s important because people from different ethnic, racial, and social background have varying health conditions,” she said.
Howard University President and practicing surgeon, Wayne A. I. Frederick agreed with Dr. Williams sentiment.
“We believe that diverse participation in COVID-19 trials will go a long way toward encouraging potentially life-saving vaccination when it is available. Our goal through participation is to ensure a safe and effective product is developed to address the needs of Black, Latino, and other minority communities.”.