On Thursday, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen along with eight of his Senate colleagues, sent a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FDA, Operation Warp Speed, and the U.S. Army Material Command to make sure COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials continue to enroll a diverse group of participants.
“COVID-19 has disproportionately harmed communities of color. Compared to white Americans, Black Americans are one and a half times more likely to contract COVID-19, over three and a half times more likely to be hospitalized, and nearly three times as likely to die from the disease,” wrote the Senators. “Americans of color are also more likely to develop severe COVID-19, requiring hospitalization. Hispanic and Latino Americans are hospitalized at a rate over four times higher than non-Hispanic white Americans, and American Indian and Alaska Native people who contract COVID-19 are four times more likely to be hospitalized than white Americans.”
“Given this disparate impact, FDA and public health officials have stressed the need for clinical trials to enroll diverse populations. Clinical trials should enroll diverse participants to confirm that COVID-19 vaccine candidates are safe and effective for Americans of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Diverse clinical trial participation also builds vaccine confidence, which is critical in light of the United States’ history of medical research exploitation and discrimination against minority patients.”