Black doctors are joining to create their own independent task force to review decisions about potential COVID-19 vaccines.
The committee is being organized by the National Medical Association, which was founded in 1895 as a professional society for Black physicians. As trust in federal health agencies continues to fade during the pandemic, the group plans to review scientific guidance issued by the CDC and FDA.
“It’s necessary to provide a trusted messenger of vetted information to the African American community,” Leon McDougle, president of NMA, said in an interview. “There is a concern that some of the recent decisions by the Food and Drug Administration have been unduly influenced by politicians. “I think this will help to increase uptake in the African American community if members of our task force give it the green light,” McDougle added.
The coronavirus has disproportionately affected Black, Latino and Native American communities, and the task force hopes to address some of the concerns around a COVID-19 vaccine, he said. The group will evaluate the demographics of the current clinical trials and support a vaccine if clinical trial data shows that it is safe and effective.
Several epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists will be on the task force, and they will review the clinical trial protocols. The task force also plans to evaluate federal plans for vaccine distribution and whether communities that typically lack adequate access to health care will be fairly represented.
However, the group is still determining how the process will work. The FDA could authorize a vaccine without releasing the full data behind it. Several of the task force members are on federal committees that may receive access to the statistics, McDougle said. Whatever the decision or outcome, the group plans to be open about their process and conclusions about a vaccine.
“We will tell our patients what our scientific findings are with full disclosure and full transparency, explaining how we came to our conclusions,” Khadijah Lang, one of the task force members and a family doctor in Los Angeles, said.