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

To make sure a vaccine works for everyone, everyone needs to be in the trials

By Kristin Toussaint, Fast Company

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.

“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.”

Moderna’s Phase 3 trial, which has 25,000 participants enrolled, is 51% white, according to its most recent weekly enrollment trend data, and only 13% Black, 27% Hispanic or Latino, and less than 5% American Indian. Black participants make up 8% of Pfizer’s trial, which has enrolled nearly 32,000 people and is being conducted across four studies. For Pfizer’s U.S. trial sites only, Hispanic or Latino people make up 12% of participants, and Native Americans 0.6%. Many other trials are not reporting their diversity statistics at all. Read more …