COVID-19 clinical trials must append more diversity, researchers assert

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 reaches new heights, clinical trials involving coronavirus-infected patients substantially lack diversity among the U.S. population, according to new research.

Released online in the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of researchers at the University of Georgia and the University of Colorado are keen on generalizing people of color and minority groups for future COVID-19 research.

“As we strive to overcome the social and structural causes of health care disparities, we must recognize the underrepresentation of minority groups in Covid-19 clinical trials,” the co-authors inferred in their findings.

“Although the Food and Drug Administration hailed remdesivir as the standard of care for Covid-19 and is actively distributing supplies throughout the United States, data supporting the drug’s efficacy and safety in minority groups are limited.”

Their findings were the subject of a recent nationally-funded COVID-19 trial involving the antiviral drug remdesivir. In that clinical trial, researchers noticed that only 20 percent of the total patient population enrolled were people of color. Just 23 percent were Latinos or Native Americans, according to the study.

Given that the overwhelming majority of the participants observed in the trials were Caucasians, researchers hope to see more diversity in future COVID-19 research.

More diversity would mean a more realistic representation of the pandemic across all areas of the U.S., especially as Black Americans and Latinx account for a significant amount of coronavirus-related deaths.

“To improve the response to Covid-19 and allocate resources appropriately, states and municipalities will need to report race and ethnicity data on cases and deaths promptly, while Covid-19 clinical trials incorporate marginalized communities by targeting populations at greatest risk — most notably, Black, Latinx, and Native American,” the co-authors concluded in the findings.

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