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COVID-19 vaccine trials are being undermined by a lack of diversity

At least 10 COVID-19 vaccines are currently in the final phase of their trials, where the vaccine is given to thousands of people to test its safety and efficacy. But as the quest for a coronavirus vaccine continues, experts say there’s still an issue with how diverse these trials are, which could impact how effective a vaccine is for everyone.

Months into the pandemic, it’s become clear that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting people of color. Black Americans are infected with COVID-19 at nearly three times the rate of white Americans, according to an August report based on Johns Hopkins University data, and Black and brown Americans are also dying at higher rates than white Americans.

“We have communities of color that are really devastatingly affected by the virus, and we want a vaccine that works for all people,” says Paulette Chandler, a primary care physician and lead of community engagement and education for COVID-19 vaccine trials at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Unless we have a diverse group of people involved in the trial, we will not be able to generalize our findings to every group.”

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