By Tatiana Zaituni
A recent COVID-19 vaccine trial was branded ‘disappointing’ after only 3% of people who joined were from BAME backgrounds, the NHS has said.
The NHS is now launching a scheme to recruit up to ten thousand volunteers from the British Asian community to take part in its coronavirus vaccine trial following concern over the lack of diversity among the volunteers.
The government announced last week that more than 112,000 people have signed up for trials which will begin as soon as next month.
Speaking to the Guardian about the upcoming trials, Dr Dinesh Saralaya, one of the directors of the recruitment programme, expressed concern that only 3% of the volunteers were from British Asians background and describe the lack of diversity as ‘very worrying’.
Dr Saralaya, Consultation Respiratory Physician at Bradford Teaching NHS Trust, also demanded more outreach of research to communities who may not speak English as their first language.
According to Dr Saralaya, areas with large Asian populations including Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Burnley, Bradford, Wakefield, Dewsbury, were “very disappointing in the uptakes” of the enlists.
He said: “We need to be encouraging these large areas Asian population to sign-up.
“We need a vaccine for these populations because these vulnerable populations sit within these ethnic minorities”.
94% of the 112,104 volunteers who have signed up for the trial since July were white. One in 10 of the volunteers works in health and social care, and a third of the volunteers are key workers who have face-to-face contact with people due to their job.
However, there has not been a demand for other people that are on the vulnerable spectrum, nor have the Government provided information of people volunteering in the trial from other ethnic minorities, along with other groups who are high risk.
The NHS is continuing to urge more people to take part in the vaccine trial, but it remains to be seen whether or not more people from BAME communities will ultimately sign up.