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Diversity in clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine

A group of physicians and scientists last week urged the American government to include Black, Latino and indigenous Americans in the design and implementation of COVID-19 vaccine trials in hopes of building trust among these at-risk populations.

While drug makers are racing to develop a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine pledged yesterday to ensure their larger clinical trials would include diverse sets of volunteers, several companies vowed to include broad representation as they prepare to launch studies with thousands of volunteers in the coming months.

Small bottles labelled with "Vaccine" stickers seen near a medical syringe in front of displayed "Coronavirus COVID-19". Image credit REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Specifically, Menelas Pangalos, AstraZeneca Plc’s executive vice president of biopharmaceutical research & development, declared in prepared remarks ahead of the hearing held by the House subcommittee on oversight and investigations that “Ensuring diversity in these trials, including in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and other factors, is a priority in our efforts”.

Representatives from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Inc, Pfizer Inc, and Merck & Co Inc were also set to testify later yesterday in the hearing, which is focused on efforts to develop a safe, effective and accessible COVID-19 vaccine.

Image credit Reuters

More than 150 vaccines are in phase of development globally with an aim to help end the global pandemic that has claimed more than 600,000 lives. But whether any will succeed remains far from clear.

Early data released on Monday from trials of three official potential COVID-19 vaccines, including a closely watched candidate from AstraZeneca and Oxford University in collaboration with an Italian laboratory based in Rome, increased confidence that a vaccine can train the immune system to recognize and fight the novel coronavirus without serious side effects.


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