Medical experts are urging the involvement of Black people for vaccine trials against the coronavirus, saying it’s crucial to a community already gravely impacted by the virus.
More than 116,000 lives in the United States have been lost from the coronavirus and a quarter of these losses were Black people, according to a study called Color of Coronavirus by APM Research Lab.
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Now that scientists and medical experts are in a rush to find an adequate response to COVID-19, they say Black people’s involvement is critical, particularly because of pharmacogenetics, or the science that studies how genetic factors affect reactions to drugs. According to NBC News, this field of study shows that medicine can have varying effects based on race and genetic, socioeconomic, and environmental dynamics.
In other words, a vaccine might not be useful to Black people if Black people don’t participate in the clinical trials to create the drug.
Persuading Black folks to participate could be challenging, however, considering the racist histories of Black people being used as testing sites for experiments.
For example, the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male involved infected Black men being solicited for a 40-year study (1932 to 1972) to treat syphilis with penicillin. They were offered free medical exams, free meals, and burial insurance.
However, they were not provided with the drug, and 28 of the original 399 Black men died of syphilis, 100 passed away from related complications, 40 of their wives were infected, and 19 of their children were born with congenital syphilis.
Such a horrific outcome has caused doctors to understand Black people’s wariness in participating in COVID-19 vaccine trials.
“The reasons I hear African Americans will not participate are heartbreaking and disappointing,” said Calethia Hodges, a Black clinician at Infinite Clinical Trials outside Atlanta. “I have heard about the Tuskegee experiment a lot. And I have heard ‘They [doctors] will give me the virus.’ And ‘They will put a chip inside me.’ Many say their parents raised them ‘to never participate in medical research.’ It’s all tough to overcome.”
Dr. Larry Graham, a retired pulmonologist, also understands the lack of trust from Black people, however, he says it’s crucial that people overcome it.
“Genetics related to racial differences make it essential that we be involved in broad-based and diverse clinical trials of medications and vaccines,” he said. “The expanding discipline of pharmacogenetics has taught us that we may respond differently than other races to both medicines and vaccines. We must be sure it works in Black folks. This can only be determined by our inclusion in the research-based trials of such vaccines.”
Dr. Aletha Maybank, the American Medical Association’s chief equity officer and group vice president of its Center for Health Equity, is calling out institutions on how they connect with Black people.
“I worry about exploitation and medicines being used on patients without their knowledge or consent,” Maybank, a Black woman, said.
Maybank went on to say that building trust is key to getting Black people to participate in clinical trials.
“With any relationship, you build it,” she said. “Folks doing work from leading institutions have asked, ‘How do we build trust?’ Well, it’s not rocket science. It’s about building relationships. Are you getting to know me beforehand? Are you speaking in a language I understand? Are the concepts broken down so that they are digestible? Are you present? Are you giving resources to our neighborhoods beforehand? That’s not rocket science. It’s building a relationship. That’s how you build trust. And trust is a fundamental value in humans. There’s no rocket science behind it.”
Hodges says that it also helps that she’s also a Black woman.
“They see me and give me a chance to at least share my information with them,” Hodges said.
Dr. John Maupin, the former president of Meharry Medical College and Morehouse School of Medicine, said a group of historically Black colleges and universities that focus on public health are planning a consortium that will focus on “culturally sensitive care.”
“The problem is: Do I trust them? That’s why the ability for a Morehouse and Meharry to have a clinical research center is vital,” he said. “It will allow Black people to come.”
“We have to have more [HBCUs conducting trials] because people will trust them more than they will some other institutions,” he continued. “I’m not saying all are untrustworthy. I’m saying there would be greater trust in institutions led by those who come from the patients’ backgrounds.”
Hodge’s ended by saying that he takes things a step further and tells patients, “they have a chance to take a drug that not only could help them, but could be very important to the next generation.”
Notable Black Folks Who Have Contracted COVID-19
1. Usain Bolt, Olympic gold medalist
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2. Gil Bailey, radio pioneer2 of 59
3. Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta mayorSource:Getty 3 of 59
4. Herman Cain, former presidential candidateSource:Getty 4 of 59
5. Nick Cannon, entertainerSource:Getty 5 of 59
6. Ben Carson, former HUD SecretarySource:Getty 6 of 59
7. Dave Chappelle, comedianSource:Getty 7 of 59
8. Rep. Bonnie Watson ColemanSource:Getty 8 of 59
9. Manu Dibango, musicianSource:Getty 9 of 59
10. Dennis Dickson, NYPD employee10 of 59
11. Kevin Durant, NBA starSource:Getty 11 of 59
12. Larry Edgeworth
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Prayers to the family of NBC’s Larry Edgeworth 💔🙏🏽 and my former colleagues at 30 Rock. He died after testing positive for #coronavirus. Larry would always offer to help me ...even after I moved to CBS. He just wanted to see another brother win. #IAmMyBrothersKeeper Rest 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/TyXbiHs30d— DeMarco Morgan (@DeMarcoReports) March 20, 2020
13. Kenneth "Babyface" EdmondsSource:Getty 13 of 59
14. Idris and Sabrina Dhowre Elba
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This morning I tested positive for Covid 19. I feel ok, I have no symptoms so far but have been isolated since I found out about my possible exposure to the virus. Stay home people and be pragmatic. I will keep you updated on how I’m doing 👊🏾👊🏾 No panic. pic.twitter.com/Lg7HVMZglZ— Idris Elba (@idriselba) March 16, 2020
15. Patrick Ewing, basketball legendSource:Getty 15 of 59
16. Ronald Fenty, Rihanna's dadSource:Getty 16 of 59
17. Vivica A. Fox, actressSource:Getty 17 of 59
18. Jimmy Glenn, legendary boxing trainerSource:Getty 18 of 59
19. Rudy Gobert
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20. Louis Gossett Jr., actor, philanthropistSource:Getty 20 of 59
21. Lee Green, former college hoops star
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It is with much sadness to inform all in my SJU family that we lost Lee Green to Covid-19 today. A Parade All-American who played 3 years at #SJUBB Lee was our warrior on those teams. A true lock em up defender that relished shutting down the best opponents. RIP Lee🙏🏻 #gone2soon pic.twitter.com/X4TIPbVvoU— Ron Linfonte (@SJU5) March 24, 2020
22. Charles Gregory, Tyler Perry's makeup artrist
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23. Lewis Hamilton, Formula One driverSource:Getty 23 of 59
24. Samuel Hargress Jr., owner of legendary Harlem nightclub
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Thank You for your friendship Sam! 💔#RIP💔 Harlem's Paris Blues Jazz Club has been a celebrated local music joint since 1969, playing live jazz and blues nightly. It's owner and manager, Mr. Samuel Hargress Jr., has been in the club nearly every day for the past 51 years. 💫🔥💫 pic.twitter.com/oSM9Cbzzdb— B Michael (@bmichaelAmerica) April 15, 2020
25. Conan Harris, Rep. Ayanna Pressley's husbandSource:Getty 25 of 59
26. Antoine Hodge, opera singerSource:GoFundMe 26 of 59
27. Mike Huckaby, techno music pioneer and DJ
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R.I.P Mike Huckaby. You will forever continue to change so many peoples lives with your music, technique and mentoring. These clips of Huck are from ‘Detroit The Blueprint Of Techno’ 💔 pic.twitter.com/8t8c83Uy2K— Dark Entries Records (@darkentriesrecs) April 25, 2020
28. Callum Hudson-OdoiSource:Getty 28 of 59
29. DL Hughley, comedian29 of 59
30. Ahmed Ismail Hussein, Somali singer
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BREAKING: One of Somalia’s greatest artists has died in London after contracting Corona Virus. Ahmed Ismail Hussein “Hudeydi” known as the “King of Oud” has been in hospital for four days. He was 92. pic.twitter.com/iCii8vYVVv— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) April 8, 2020
31. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, former White House butler
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Tonight on @fox5dc at 10p -— Shawn Yancy (@ShawnYancyTV) May 20, 2020
He served at the pleasure of 11 U.S. Presidents... during his 55 years at the White House.
Last weekend, he passed from COVID-19.
My exclusive interview with the granddaughter of White House butler, Wilson Jerman is next! pic.twitter.com/SBiXbQLiud
32. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, actor
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33. Brad "Scarface" JordanSource:Getty 33 of 59
34. DeAndre Jordan, NBA starSource:Getty 34 of 59
35. Tim Lester, NFL starSource:Getty 35 of 59
36. James Mahoney, pulmonologist
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Dr. James Mahoney at University Hospital of Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/SXBxNlzApr— Lieutenant Kijé (@BrianLemaire2) May 19, 2020
37. Ellis Marsalis Jr., musicianSource:Getty 37 of 59
38. DeRay McKesson, activistSource:Getty 38 of 59
39. Von Miller, NFL starSource:Getty 39 of 59
40. Donovan Mitchell40 of 59
41. Wisconsin Rep. Rep. Gwen MooreSource:Getty 41 of 59
42. Lloyd Porter, small business owner in Brooklyn
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Devastated to hear Lloyd Porter has pass away from covid19. Lloyd was a pillar in Brooklyn. His coffee shop Breadstuy is where I met some of my closest friends. He sometimes hired people with records that couldn't easily find work. He believed in community. Rest well Brother— Blitz Bazawule (@BlitzAmbassador) May 7, 2020
43. Charley Pride, country music legendSource:Getty 43 of 59
44. Biden Adviser, Rep. Cedric RichmondSource:Getty 44 of 59
45. Arnie Robinson Jr., Olympian
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Arnie Robinson Jr., who won the gold medal in the long jump at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, died on Dec. 2 at his home in San Diego. He was 72. https://t.co/lYnpSbWkzO— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) December 16, 2020
46. Wallace RoneySource:Getty 46 of 59
47. Marcus Smart47 of 59
48. Shaka Smart, University Of Texas Men's Basketball CoachSource:Getty 48 of 59
49. Troy Sneed, gospel singerSource:Getty 49 of 59
50. Oliver "DJ Black N Mild" Stokes Jr.
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New Orleans bounce DJ and radio personality Black N Mild has died after testing positive for coronavirus. For the past 25 years, he also deejayed at countless clubs, parties and other private events across the southeast. pic.twitter.com/2e6mnKhiXQ— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) March 21, 2020
51. Michael Strahan, 'Good Morning America' host, former NFL starSource:Getty 51 of 59
52. Carole Sutton, actressSource:Getty 52 of 59
53. Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes53 of 59
54. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coachSource:Getty 54 of 59
55. Karl-Anthony Towns, NBA starSource:Getty 55 of 59
56. Jo Thompson, singerSource:Getty 56 of 59
57. Karl-Anthony Towns' parents, Jacqueline Cruz and Karl-Anthony Towns Sr.57 of 59
58. Juan Williams, Fox News HostSource:Getty 58 of 59
59. Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham, AlabamaSource:Getty 59 of 59
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Black People’s Fears Of Clinical Racism Must Be Addressed In COVID-19 Vaccine Trials, Experts Say was originally published on newsone.com