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AP documents the push to increase diversity in vaccine studies

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Lauran Neergaard, medical writer, Washington; Federica Narancio, video journalist, Washington; Cody Jackson, video journalist, Miami; and Taimy Alvarez, freelance photographer, Miami, explored the obstacles to recruiting diverse groups for medical studies of new drugs, treatments and vaccines. During the pandemic, the two leading U.S. vaccine candidates are lagging behind in diverse enrollment, although participation has inched up in recent weeks.

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University of Miami Miller School of Medicine phlebotomist Mayra Fernandez prepares to take a blood sample from vaccine study participant Julio Li, in Miami, Sept. 2, 2020. Miami is one of 89 cities around the U.S. testing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. – AP Photo / Taimy Alvarez

Thousands more volunteers who identify as people of color are needed for upcoming studies. Staffers from the AP Health and Science team and the South region took an inside look at how health officials are trying to recruit participants, focusing on Maryland and Florida. Narancio spent a day at a local farmers market outside the nation’s capital where “promotoras,” or health promoters, are working to sign up Latinos for the vaccine being tested by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna. Neergard used her contacts to get access to the University of Miami, where there’s a similar push to recruit underserved populations for the same trial. The story appeared on more than 200 online news sites.

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