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Minorities desperately needed for coronavirus clinical trials

The next stage in vaccine trials will be underway soon.

SAN ANTONIO — As the novel coronavirus continues to ravage south Texas with a growing amount of deaths and positive tests, researchers say volunteers are critical for clinical trials in which potential life-saving vaccines are being tested. 

They say they're especially in need of minorities willing to participate in the trials. 

"If I could just be a very small piece of the puzzle in figuring this out, that would be pretty cool," said Roland Chabera, who is Latino. 

He said he realizes many people would be nervous to participate in vaccine trials, but that isn't the case with him. 

"As a young, relatively healthy person, I'm not nervous," he said. "It definitely helps knowing that I'm not being injected with COVID or a live virus or anything like that."

The FDA says joining a clinical trial can be beneficial if you and your doctor believe current treatments aren't good options and the trial in question offers additional alternatives. The trials also allow scientists to have a better understanding of the benefits and risks of new medical products among the range of patients who would likely need them. 

"If you have anybody that could be affected by this, or if you yourself could be affected by this in anyway, just participating is always great," Chabera said. 

"We have a huge population of minorities here in San Antonio and Bexar County, so it's really important that, as we report of the trials and solutions for this current pandemic, we get everybody involved and make sure that the population is diverse," said Ayoade Avworo, an investigator with Clinical Trials of Texas. 

Minorities in particular are getting hit hard by the coronavirus because many are uninsured or lack access to healthcare. 

"About 80% of the cases, the hospitalizations and deaths in Bexar County are in people of color," Avworo said. "The only way to know that this medication is going to work for all of us is if we are all equally represented in the process. That helps get the treatment on the market, and that's why diversity matters."

Clinical Trials of Texas is currently running several trials, and soon will be launching the phase three trial for Moderna's vaccine candidate. They're looking for volunteers, especially minorites. To sign up just call (210)949-0122 ext. 290.

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