In Brief

Minister calls for BAME candidates to sign up for Covid vaccine trials

Less than 0.5% of people on NHS vaccine registry are from a black background

A government minister is joining researchers in a plea for more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to sign up for Covid vaccine trials.

Scientists hope to sign a total of 500,000 volunteers for the projects, but “of the 270,000 already recruited, only 7% are people belonging to ethnic minorities, who are at higher risk of complications if they develop Covid-19”, the BBC reports.

The volunteering push is being backed by Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, who is taking part in a vaccine trial being conducted by US biotechnology firm Novavax at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust in London.

 “With less than 0.5% of people on the NHS Vaccine Registry from a black background, we have a lot more work to do,” she said.

“That is why I am urging more people from the ethnic-minority backgrounds to join me in signing up to the NHS Vaccine Registry and taking part in a trial.”

Scientists in the UK are currently testing a total of six different potential vaccines, “each of which urgently requires thousands of diverse volunteers to help speed up development”, says The Guardian.

According to analysis by the Office for National Statistics, black people in England and Wales are 1.9 times more likely to die of Covid than their white peers. Other groups who are also more vulnerable to the virus, including the over-65s, are also being encouraged to sign up for the trials.

Dr Maheshi Ramasamy from the Oxford Vaccine Group, said it is “really important that we can demonstrate to people from these communities that we have evidence that the vaccine works”.

Kate Bingham, who chairs the government’s vaccine taskforce, added that “researchers need data from different communities and different people to improve understanding of the vaccines.

“The only way to get this is through large clinical trials.”

For more information on how to take part, go to nhs.uk/researchcontact.

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