Vaccine trials should include Black and brown people.

A COVID-19  vaccine will be an important tool to get the new coronavirus under control and return to a more normal way of life. In order to make sure a vaccine is safe and works well, it will take big clinical trials with lots of people. It is important that the people who participate in these trials represent a range of ethnicities and racial groups. 

Why do we need diversity in a vaccine trial?

Scientific studies have a long history of enrolling participants who represent only a narrow range of the population. Specifically, the majority of trials throughout history have only included white men. But as we learn more and more about how our bodies work, we are finding that what works for white men may not work the same way for everyone else. Race and ethnicity are social and cultural ideas, not biological categories. But due to the social determinants of health, there are commonly differences in other health conditions that might affect how people respond to new treatments.

To truly know if a vaccine is safe and effective, we need to make sure the people who are in the trials represent the same population who will receive the vaccine. This means including Black and brown participants, women, and people from other ethnic groups.

Representation is important

Vaccines will work best when most people get them. A study that represents a diverse population shows that the vaccine is meant for everyone. You can do your part by volunteering for a vaccine trial.

Last update: September 18, 2020, 6:29 pm ET

Science review: ERS, JAB