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Two HBCU presidents join Covid-19 vaccine trials to stress the importance of black



Presidents Walter Kimbro of Dillard University and Reynold Veret of Javier University sent letters to their university communities earlier this month that they had decided to participate in a phase 3 trial of a vaccine developed by Pfizer.

“Overcoming the virus will require vaccines that are effective for all peoples in our communities, especially our black and brown neighbors,” they wrote.

“It is essential that a significant number of black and brown subjects be involved,” they write, “so that the effectiveness of these vaccines can be understood in the many different populations that include this United States.”

Health experts stressed the importance of the diverse set of volunteers in the Covid-1

9 vaccine trials, especially because the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on color communities.

“I just kept seeing all the articles that show we don’t have a good representation,” Kimbro told CNN. “People say you don’t know if it works for all populations if you don’t have a stable sample.”

But the answer is largely negative, he said, with some people comparing him to a “laboratory rat.”

“I think people are mostly skeptical,” he said.

He pointed to the distrust among some African-Americans stemming from Tuskigi’s study of syphilis. Social media critics also cited the study, known as the Tuskigi Experiment.
Since the 1930s, it has involved doctors from the US Public Health Service, who deliberately kept blacks from being treated for syphilis so they could study the course of the infection. They did so despite the fact that penicillin emerged during the study as a viable and effective treatment.

In their letter, Kimbro and Verett acknowledge Taskigi and other “unethical examples of medical research” – cases that have undermined “trust in health care providers and caregivers” among African Americans.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that while black Americans face higher risks than Covid-19, they are more reluctant to trust medical experts and sign up for a potential vaccine.

In an interview with SiriusXM earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci stressed that skepticism from minority communities must be met with transparency. He also cited Tuskegi as a major cause of mistrust.

“The experience so far of how government and medical experimenters have treated the African-American community is not something to be proud of,” he said.

“I fully understand fear”

Kimbro and Verret are not alone. When Dane Baker, Black’s news anchor at CNN’s WTOC branch in Savannah, Georgia, said she was joining the trial for Moderna vaccine candidate, skeptics also raised Tuskegee’s experiment.

One said Baker had “lost his mind.”

“I can’t fight (the story). I fully understand the fear,” Baker told CNN’s Poppy Harlow. But Baker trusted her doctor for more than 30 years, who asked her to participate.

“For me, it was a great opportunity to be part of the decision,” she said. “So I really feel that what needs to happen is that before we start these vaccine studies, we need to make an effort with the minority community to explain and acknowledge that there is a problem and what’s going on there. . ”

Verret agreed that Tuskegee and “many other similar events” should be recognized. But there are “people like me around the table,” he said, asking questions and checking processes.

There is systemic racism in the United States, he told CNN’s Brian Kaylar.

“But at the same time, that shouldn’t stop us from making sure we have access to something that is necessary to save the lives of our people, especially given that African Americans and other people of color are dying and suffering from Covid- 19 with disproportionate prices, “Veret said.

Kimbro said some reaction stemmed from claims that their letter was a “mandate” when they only wanted their communities to “just think about it”.

In the horrific history of forced sterilization, some fear that the United States is starting a new chapter

“But it’s hard to tell someone to think about something you’re not ready to do on your own,” he said.

Kimbro had his first meeting with researchers on August 25. He had to complete an orientation explaining the process and each step. He also received a Covid-19 test using a nasal swab. He was then given an injection – but he does not know if he received the vaccine candidate or a placebo.

Otherwise, once a week, an application on Kimbrow’s phone asks him to fill out a survey detailing how he feels and whether he has any symptoms. He returned for a second injection this week and will have to return periodically.

But like Baker, Kimbro is happy to be playing his part.

“I’m just tired of all this,” he said of the pandemic. “I’m ready to go back to some sense of normalcy and the vaccine will be part of that.”


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