A team of scientific experts from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico are advocating for increased diversity in vaccine trials after publishing a new report that highlights a decade’s worth of disparities. The new study, published in JAMA Network Open, found that among U.S.-based vaccine clinical trials, people who are Black/African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino and age 65 and older were the most underrepresented groups. Conversely, adult women were overrepresented.

The research team examined 230 U.S.-based vaccine trials of all phases, with nearly 220,000 participants from July 2011 through June 2020. The researchers found that many trials did not fully report demographic information, and for the studies that did, racial and ethnic minorities were frequently underrepresented as were older adults.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact, particularly on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities and older adults, is a painful reminder of the health disparities in our country,” said Dr. Steve Pergam, an associate professor in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and one of the corresponding authors of the study). “This collaborative work highlights a problem that’s plagued the scientific community for too long — inadequate representation in clinical trials. The diversity seen in COVID-19 vaccine trials demonstrate we can do this, but we need to assure future studies focus not just on rapid enrollment but also on inclusion.”

Read the full article about diversity in vaccine trials by Tom Kim at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.