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Study: 40% of vaccine trials over past decade did not report race of participants

An analysis of the demographics of a decade’s worth of vaccine clinical trials has found that more than 40% did not record participants’ race and about 65% did not report their ethnicity (Source: “‘A massive gap in information’: Most vaccine clinical trials fail to report data on participants’ ethnicity or race,” Stat News, Feb. 19).

“This is a massive gap in information, and if we want to improve enrollment in clinical trials and we want to see diversity in clinical trials, we need the data,” said Steven Pergam, a vaccine and infectious disease expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and an author on the paper. “It’s amazing that we don’t have the data.”

The lack of diversity in the 230 vaccine trials that were examined (encompassing about 220,000 people) drew attention last year as several COVID-19 vaccine trials had difficulty enrolling people of color. Watching that struggle unfold as the pandemic devastated the country, and communities of color in particular, spurred researchers to investigate how representative vaccine clinical trials have been historically.

The findings, published earlier this month in the journal JAMA Network Open, indicate that racial and ethnic disparities have long plagued vaccine clinical trials and provide insight into the importance of diminishing those gaps going forward.