Ensuring clinical trials involve racially diverse participants: 4 strategies

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Clinical trials in the U.S. have a long history of failing to accurately represent the demographics of communities for which they aim to create treatments, and COVID-19 vaccine trials are no exception, according to STAT.

Vaccine trials should seek to involve participants from the communities facing the highest risk of infection. With the rate Black and Latinx communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, current trials for the disease would need up to 40 percent of its participants to be Black or Latinx, a quota that is not being met.

Kathryn Stephenson, MD, and Bisola Ojikutu, MD, who both serve as directors of infectious disease research at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital respectively, told STAT about the following steps researchers can take to ensure their trials accurately reflect the populations that the treatments in question will serve.

  • Acknowledge the importance of racial diversity in clinical testing, even when trials may seem especially urgent.

  • Give trial sites funding for diversity initiatives, since recruitment and logistics, such as transportation and translation, can add costs.

  • Engage and communicate with Black and Latinx communities throughout the entire trial process, not just when it is time to report results.

  • Show appreciation for people's trust in the medical research community by creating treatments that keep them healthier and safer.

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