Fast-Track Vaccines

Researchers work to diversify clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine

Sam Whitehead Nov 10, 2020
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Fast-Track Vaccines

Researchers work to diversify clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine

Sam Whitehead Nov 10, 2020
Heard on:
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Pfizer has announced it saw good early data on results for a COVID-19 vaccine. But once a vaccine is fully tested and ready to distribute, will people be willing to get it?

A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation and ESPN’s The Undefeated found that nearly half of Black adults and 37% of Latinx adults said they wouldn’t take a coronavirus vaccine, even if scientists recommend it, and it’s free.

Getting Black and Latinx communities to participate in medical research means overcoming decades of mistrust, but it’s crucial for making a product that people have faith in.

Dr. Valeria Cantos is recruiting people from the Latinx community to test a COVID-19 vaccine by drug-maker Moderna at Emory University in Atlanta.

There are some questions she gets a lot: “’You’re not going to share this information with immigration are you?’ or ‘Can I still participate if I don’t have a Social Security number?’ implying that they may be undocumented,” she said. 

Cantos, who’s Latina, explains that privacy rules protect research participants, regardless of immigration status. 

Cantos works at one of 100 research sites around the country testing Moderna’s vaccine.

“Our goal is to have a vaccine that has been tested in the population that is the most vulnerable to becoming infected with COVID,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Black, Latinx and Native American people are more likely to be hospitalized and die from coronavirus infection.

Emory’s research budget has specific funds dedicated to reaching out to Black and Latinx communities. And it’s paid off: Most of the participants at the research site run by Dr. Colleen Kelley are from those groups.

“If we have a very homogenous white population involved in our clinical trials, that creates a lot of uncertainty but also mistrust around the results and how they might apply to Black and Latinx populations,” Kelley said.

That mistrust has been built over centuries from when slavery started in the colonies that became the U.S., said Dr. James Hildreth, president of the historically Black Meharry Medical College in Nashville.

“The truth is going all the way back to 1619 there is a history of atrocities being visited upon Black bodies in the service of medical research,” Hildreth said.

Hildreth is trying to broadcast his trust in research by publicly participating in a COVID-19 vaccine trial. He said people need to have faith in the vaccines to get them if they become widely available, because vaccines don’t save lives, vaccinations do.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

How long will it be until the economy is back to normal?

It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods. To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control. Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30. Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November. Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.

How are those COVID relief payments affecting consumers?

Payments started going out within days of President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a big shot in the arm for consumers, said John Leer at Morning Consult, which polls Americans every day. “Consumer confidence is really on a tear. They are growing more confident at a faster rate than they have following the prior two stimulus packages.” Leer said this time around the checks are bigger and they’re getting out faster. Now, rising confidence is likely to spark more consumer spending. But Lisa Rowan at Forbes Advisor said it’s not clear how much or how fast.

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