FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2020
Barragán letter to Drs. Collins & Fauci: “The only way to decisively defeat COVID-19 is to guarantee that every American, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, has access to the full range of treatments, and that these treatments are comprehensively proven to be safe and effective.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) urged National Health Institute Directors Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci to ensure COVID-19 vaccine human trials are conducted in racially diverse communities to ensure people of color are adequately represented in the trials.
In a letter sent to Doctors Collins and Fauci today, Rep. Barragán raised concerns that current trial locations do not support participation from diverse communities and could result in treatments with disparities in effectiveness for communities inadequately represented in the trial.
Rep. Barragán wrote in the letter: “Due to the urgent nature of this pandemic, it is vitally important that we develop effective treatments and vaccines to minimize the virus’ impact and ultimately eradicate it. While I am encouraged about the progress of vaccine development for COVID-19, I am concerned that those living in underserved communities, especially communities of color like mine, will not be able to easily participate in these trials.”
The COVID-19 crisis affects everyone, but it is the latest disease to infect and kill communities of color at higher rates than the rest of the population. California’s 44th Congressional District is 90 percent Latino and African American and has experienced disproportionate numbers of cases and deaths from COVID-19 compared to predominately white areas of Los Angeles County.
Those who are low-income or living in underserved communities may face barriers impeding their ability to participate in these COVID-19 vaccine and treatment trials. These communities are more likely to experience limited access to transportation, face long travel times on public transportation, and find it more burdensome to take time off work to participate. Barragán is adamant that it is critical that the locations of these trials comprehensively include, and do not systematically exclude, communities of color.
Congresswoman Barragán went on to make a specific request regarding the trial location in Southern California. “I strongly urge you to consider an additional site in Los Angeles closer to, and more accessible for, my demographically diverse constituents – representing populations that are desperately needed to participate in these trials.”
Rep. Barragán concluded the letter by saying, “The only way to decisively defeat COVID-19 is to guarantee that every American, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, has access to the full range of treatments, and that these treatments are comprehensively proven to be safe and effective.”
A PDF of the full letter is available here.
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington.