- Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout must account for racial disparities.
- States that have released vaccination data by race show white people are being vaccinated at higher rates than Black people.
- Fauci said he respects why some people of color are hesitant to trust the US medical industry.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In an interview with the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the president’s chief medical adviser, said the COVID-19 vaccine rollout must account for the virus’s disproportionate impacts on people of color.
Only 16 states have released vaccination data by race so far, but those states show that white people are being vaccinated at two or three times the rate that Black people are, according to Axios.
“I think that’s the one thing we really got to be careful of,” Fauci said in the interview. “We don’t want in the beginning … most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people.”
But Fauci said he understands and respects why some people of color are hesitant to get the vaccination.
Many point to the infamous Tuskegee experiment as reason for their skepticism of the US health system. In 1932, scientists began monitoring 400 Black men with syphilis but did not treat them for the disease or even tell them they had it. The study was conducted without the patients’ informed consent and lasted nearly four decades.
“They keep coming back and saying the history of Tuskegee,” Fauci said of minority groups. “They don’t, can’t, and should not forget about it, because it happened and it was shameful.”
The medical advisor noted that the safeguards in the medical field that have been put in place since then would make a repeat of Tuskegee essentially impossible, but emphasized that it’s health officials’ responsibility to make that clear to people of color.
“You really want to get it to the people who are really the most vulnerable … you don’t want to have a situation where people who really are in need of it, because of where they are, where they live, what their economic status is, that they don’t have access to the vaccine,” Fauci said.
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