Researchers working on a COVID-19 vaccine say the vaccine will only work if Black people participate in the clinical trials.
Calethia Hodges, a Black clinician who recruits Black people for human trials has a tough job. She is struggling to convince Black Atlantans to participate in the clinical trials.
Hodges, a clinician at Infinite Clinical Trials near Atlanta, said Black people are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. “And that’s why I am here, in this neighborhood that is predominantly African American,” she told NBC News.
She said researchers need Black people to volunteer to determine “how genetic factors affect relations to drugs.”
So far, she has had no success recruiting Black volunteers in Atlanta.
Researchers put it bluntly: “A vaccine might not work in African Americans if African Americans do not participate in the clinical trials to create the drug.”
But Black people are overwhelmingly saying “No, thanks.”
Hodges is having difficulty recruiting Black men due to the fear of clinical trials after the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment that spanned 40 years from 1932 to 1972.
28 of the original 399 volunteers died of syphilis because they never received the drug to treat it. Another 100 died of related complications, 40 of their wives were infected, and 19 of their children were born with congenital syphilis.
“The reasons I hear African Americans will not participate are heartbreaking and disappointing,” Hodges said. “I have heard about the Tuskegee experiment a lot. And I have heard ‘They [doctors] will give me the virus.’ And ‘They will put a chip inside me.’ Many say their parents raised them ‘to never participate in medical research.’ It’s all tough to overcome.”