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Stories and information in our region on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blumenthal: Yale Clinical Trial Encouraging Racial Minority Participation Is 'Model For The Nation'

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Communities of color have a historic distrust of the medical profession because of decades of racist experimentation without consent. Yale researchers worked to rebuild trust through a clinical trial of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

Yale says 40 percent of volunteers in the COVID-19 vaccine trial were people of color. That’s thanks to a cultural ambassadors program that works with church leaders to build trust between scientists and Black and Latinx communities.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said he shared the program success with the federal Operation Warp Speed. He said it could be used to encourage the groups most affected by coronavirus to get vaccinated.

“This cultural ambassadors program, I think, will be a model for the nation,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said the vaccine can only be effective if it gets distributed to the people who need it most. He said the delay in the presidential transition of power could also delay vaccine distribution.

Blumenthal said FDA-approved vaccines are only useful if they can be administered to people. He said politics shouldn’t get in the way.

“This transition has to be expedited. The Biden team must have access to the planning tools it needs to make distribution be more widely effective,” Blumenthal said.

The Trump administration has refused to begin the transition of power to the Biden team.

Blumenthal said the federal government should help boost production of shipping materials needed for cold-transport. Senate Republicans have not called up for a vote a $10 billion dollar relief act that would support vaccine distribution.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.