Clinical trials trying to get more diverse pool of people for COVID-19 vaccine

ATLANTA — There is a push underway to get more diversity in clinical studies for a COVID-19 vaccine. One of those trials is currently underway at Emory University.

Channel 2 anchor Jorge Estevez spoke with Dr. Sharmon Osae from the University of Georgia about why it’s important to get more people involved and why some people may be hesitant to join the trial.

“Let’s talk about this reality — mistrust. Is that the number one reason why we cannot get minorities involved in these medical studies?” Estevez asked Osae.

“I think it’s at the top. You have a lot of issues where in the past, there have been inappropriate things that have been done to a lot of the people in this society,” Osae said. “So they don’t want to go to the doctor; they don’t want to participate in these trials because of some of those historical issues.”

An example of one of those historical problems was the experiment on Black men at the Tuskegee Institute where they were injected with syphilis.

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“In that study, a lot of individuals who were participating were minorities, were mistreated,” Osae said. “Because of that, a lot of people see that in history and don’t want to participate in any of the future trials because, ‘Hey, they did it once before. They mistreated us once before. Why would we want to participate again?’”

“There’s also a social aspect, like physically getting to the visit,” Estevez said.

“Right. When you participate in the clinical trial, you have to attend doctor’s appointments. You have to do get lab work. There needs to be time outside of your normal daily life,” Osae said. “So if you are working an 80-hour-a-week job, it’s just not time you’re able to take. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck to paycheck, it’s not something you’re able to do easily.”

Estevez asked why it’s so important for minorities to take part in the trials.

“Everyone should participate because if they don’t, then the results that we have aren’t going to be generalizable. If you only study something in a certain population, then you know what might work with them. But what about everyone else? So you have to consider there are genetic issues that are inherent in just giving medications to everyone. So if everyone isn’t participating, the data that we get and the results that we get may not be generalizable to everyone treated,” Osae said.

If you think you would like to participant in the clinical trial currently underway at Emory University, CLICK HERE for information about how to sign up.