Clinical Trial Diversity Lead, USA
I’ve seen how important diversity and inclusion are when it comes to doing clinical trials and vaccine roll-outs. They have to work for all people, not just some people.
For me, ensuring the COVID-19 vaccines are developed safely for all is a personal mission, based on my own experience of working as a health professional and the impact of COVID19 on minority communities.
I’ve seen the impact of healthcare disparities in minority communities, and how important diversity and inclusion are when it comes to conducting clinical trials and vaccine roll-outs. They have to work for all people, not just some people. This was made real to me when my sister-in-law became very ill with COVID-19 and ended up in intensive care. Ensuring she got the right care in time was a real challenge.
I’m so grateful my sister-in-law survived. But many friends weren’t so fortunate. I’ve seen many close friends lose loved ones to COVID-19. Seeing them suffer makes even more apparent the need to ensure vaccines are developed with all people in mind – irrespective of gender, age, race and ethnicity. Only by acknowledging these differences and healthcare disparities will we be fully able to put equity and inclusion at the heart of the vaccine roll-out – and increase the take-up.
That’s why the biopharmaceutical industry has made a commitment to ensure that our studies reflect the demographics of the patients that will ultimately receive the vaccines. Testing is designed to represent all races, ethnicities, genders and different ages, as well as people with underlying medical conditions including those with a higher risk of complications from COVID-19.
Living through lockdown has made the benefits of doing this clearer than ever. For example, my mother lives in another part of the US (in a different state) and we’ve had to stay apart – even missing out on meeting her to celebrate her 88th birthday. That’s been tough for her and our family. But it’s the knowledge that vaccinations will help us to be together again that’s kept us going. And she can rest assured that the vaccines have been tested for safety with people like her. I’m happy to report that my mom without hesitation received her first dose of vaccine.
As a pharmacist and research clinician who has worked on numerous clinical trials with people of all ethnicities, I can attest that these vaccines are tested on tens of thousands of people from all backgrounds, and the results are reviewed by an independent group of experts prior toauthorization for use with the public. I’ve talked to people who have taken part in clinical trials and seen their confidence in the process. I will always be grateful to them for helping science make advances to benefit everyone. Research volunteers are the real heroes.