As COVID-19 vaccine trials continue, the need for minority participants remains

ORLANDO, Fla. — Though two different COVID-19 vaccines are already on the market, research for other vaccine trials continues.

As the studies go on, doctors say there’s still a need for more minorities to enroll.

READ: Central Florida labs still looking for COVID-19 vaccine trial participants

Dr. Chris Galloway of Headlands Research in Orlando says diversity plays a critical role in clinical trials.

“So that we can see that the vaccine is effective for everybody across the spectrum,” Dr. Galloway says.

Good ABC News interview with Headlands Research CEO about our involvement with COVID-19 vaccine trials. ABC News David Louie

Posted by Headlands Research on Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Historically, Hispanic and black patients are underrepresented in these scientific studies. Dr. Galloway says that can be due to a general reluctance to participate.

“That means we have less information on the vaccines,” Dr. Galloway says. “Or the medicines that go to market are based primarily on one group of people.”

As a result, Dr. Galloway says they’re particularly committed to recruiting people of different backgrounds. His team speaks Spanish, and all documentation is available in Spanish as well.

“The best way to see if a vaccine works differently is to get more of those groups in so that we can see that they work the same.”

READ: Central Florida family members get both COVID-19 vaccine doses as part of clinical trials

That’s crucial, as it’s been shown that the pandemic has disproportionately affected blacks and Hispanics with higher infection and mortality rates.

“We know that a lot of diseases affect minorities differently,” Dr. Galloway says.

So if a disease can affect someone differently because of genetics, it stands to reason a vaccine could too.

If more minorities enroll in the studies, Dr. Galloway says that could make those communities feel comfortable getting the vaccine once it’s available to the general public.

For that reason, Dr. David Jones of the Orlando VA Medical Center says it’s important for the African American or Latino communities to see a minority like him get the vaccine.

READ: Black doctor dies of COVID after racist treatment complaints

“There’s been a push against people looking at wanting to get the vaccination for various historical reasons,” Dr. Jones says. “I want people to know this vaccine is needed. It’s the only thing that’s going to stem the tide of this pandemic.”

For more information on current Headlands Research studies, click here.