As the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacts communities of color in the United States, dozens of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are stepping in to help lead the Black community to get tested more and to participate in vaccine trials. But medical misuse from past research experiments carries a daunting history of mistrust, causing many Black people to think twice before jumping in line to participate.
Meharry Medical College is expected to begin the Novavax vaccine trial in the coming weeks, according to Dr. Rajbir Singh, Interim Director, Clinical and Translational Research Center at the institution. Morehouse School of Medicine is also expected to begin vaccine trials in the coming weeks. HBCU counterparts will also serve as COVID-19 diagnostic centers.
Additionally, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last week announced a $15 million donation over the next three years, in partnership with The Just Project, to help at least seven HBCUs serve as testing centers for students and members of their communities, considering most HBCUs sit in historically Black neighborhoods.
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But appeals to HBCU communities to participate in the research and testing have caused controversy.