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COVID-19 VACCINE COMMENT: Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine results show initial promise – diversity focus must also be applauded

COVID-19 VACCINE COMMENT: Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine results show initial promise – diversity focus must also be applauded

Following today's release of early data from Pfizer and BioNTech's Covid vaccine trial, please find below a response from Kate Shaw, CEO of a clinical trials patient recruitment company who works closely with the pharmaceutical sector, who says it's not just the data that needs to be celebrated, but also the fact that nearly half of all global participants have diverse backgrounds - something virtually unheard of in clinical trials.


Kate Shaw, CEO of Innovative Trials, a clinical trials patient recruitment company, welcomes early data from Pfizer and BioNTech that suggests their COVID-19 vaccine could be up to 90 percent effective and says one of the trial’s biggest achievements is ensuring that nearly half of all global participants have racially or ethnically diverse backgrounds - something often missing in medical research.


Shaw said: “COVID-19 is proving to be a devastating illness for so many, so these initial results are extremely exciting. With black Asian and minority ethnic communities being disproportionately affected by COVID-19, I particularly applaud Pfizer and BioNTech for focusing on diversity when recruiting patients into this trial. It’s an issue the industry has struggled with for years, but this proves that involving diverse populations in research is achievable. We must ensure this remains a focus for the entire life sciences sector so that we can ensure research is truly representative and treatments are effective for all.”


Innovative Trials is working to end the under-representation of BAME groups within medical research. According to one study, only around five percent of people from BAME groups in the UK who were surveyed by the Wellcome Trust Monitor in 2009 and 2012 had ever participated in medical research and between 2008 and 2013 around one in five newly approved drugs demonstrated differences in treatment response across ethnic groups leading, in some cases, to doctors prescribing drugs differently according to ethnicity. With regard to Covid-19 vaccine trials specifically, only six of the 1,518 COVID-19 trials registered on, currently collect data on ethnicity 


Innovative Trials has joined forces with two other organisations – COUCH Health and Egality – to change the way diversity is approached in medical research. An event being held tomorrow (Tuesday 10 November) will bring together those involved with medical research, BAME leaders and Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Digital, Science & Technology, to discuss how this can be achieved. 


About the event, Shaw said: “The reality is that we cannot develop effective treatments, vaccines and cures if we don’t involve all patient populations. It’s vital for the future health of our nation.”


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Last Updated: 10-Nov-2020