Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine results exciting step forward, but diversity focus must also be applauded

Monday 9th November

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 research is truly representative and treatments are effective for all.”

Few people from BAME communities are traditionally recruited into clinical trials and it is widely acknowledged that this risks treatments being developed that may not be effective for all populations. Innovative Trials is working to end this inequality and has joined forces with two other organisations – COUCH Health and Egality – to change the way diversity is approached across the industry. 

An event being held tomorrow (Tuesday 10 November), organised by the three companies, will bring together those involved with medical research, BAME leaders and Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Digital, Science & Technology, to discuss why barriers still exist and how these can be overcome.