The head of the National Institute of Health said that the COVID-19’s disproportionate harm on communities of color is “heartbreaking” and demands more inclusive efforts as the federal government underwrites attempts to develop a vaccine and improve testing.
COVID-19’s Disproportionate Harm On Black Communities Is ‘Heartbreaking’
The National Institute of Health (NIH) is a federal agency funding vaccine development efforts. Dr. Francis Collins is the director of NIH. he said that it is critically important to build trust in Black and Hispanic communities as vaccines and drug developers seek volunteers to test potential vaccines and drugs.
Dr, Francis Collins, said in an interview,
“We recognize that credibility is not going to come from another bunch of government officials pounding the table and saying this is good for you. It is going to have to come from the grassroots.” He also said that the Black Americans joining the medical studies are very low when compared with White Americans.
This is due to the historic distrust stemming from experiments such as the decades-long Tuskegee syphilis study. He also remarked that even though there is an aggressive deadline for the vaccine, he pledged that there will not be any sacrifices in the case of safety in the push to quickly develop, manufacture, and deliver a vaccine. By overlapping many of the steps, the time frame of vaccine development is shortened. But the safety measures aren’t cut down, so there is no guarantee to finish the process in January.
Recruiting more racial and ethnic groups to medical studies
The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities is now recruiting more racial and ethnic groups to address medical studies. The agency’s All of Us precision medicine study includes about 300,000 volunteers, over half of whom are racial minorities. This will help to boost diverse enrollment in vaccine studies for COVID-19, a disease that “has taken way too many lives.” To conduct millions of tests each week in minor communities, the NIH will spend around $500 million. Dr. Francis Collins also noted that the black communities are suffering severe consequences because of the lack of access to testing. The death rate of Black Americans due to COVID-19 is higher than that of White Americans. Around 17.7% of total population are Black Americans. Among that 23% of Black people account from death due to COVID-19.
Francis Collins said, “It is heartbreaking to see the way in which this disease has particularly affected those of lower socioeconomic status, how it’s affected African-American communities and Hispanic communities.”
The rate of Black Americans dying due to COVID-19 is three times greater than that of White Americans. This data shows the racial wound at the center of the Coronavirus pandemic in the US. According to the data from the Centers for Disease Control, almost one-third of infections nationwide have affected Black Americans, even though they represent only 13 percent of the U.S. population. The impacts of coronavirus on the black community has been extraordinary and disproportionate.
The co-occurring diseases like hypertension and diabetes, which are tied to COVID-19 complications, disproportionately affect the black community. But the alarming rates at which COVID-19 is killing black Americans extends beyond these co-occurring diseases and can be attributed to decades of spatial segregation, inequitable access to testing and treatment, and withholding racial or ethnicity data from reports on virus outcomes.