Vaccinate black people first?

Once again, the race question is entering the discussion in the United States. This time, we approach it when we want to accelerate the pace of vaccination to effectively curb the pandemic.

While it has often been pointed out that the black community and representatives of different minorities seem to be more affected by COVID-19, yesterday it was Anthony Fauci himself who suggested vaccinating these segments of the population first.

Americans still refuse to address the issue of systemic racism or racism at all, but the facts and figures attest to the particular difficulties faced by minorities and, it should not be forgotten, all the most common citizens. destitute regardless of the color of their skin.

When Anthony Fauci addressed this question, he did so in light of the most recent figures, but also by considering historical data. I present to you some elements of his reflection shared during an interview with the New England Journal of Medicine.

To understand the famous Dr’s suggestion, one must first know that the majority of people vaccinated so far are white people who are in the middle class. A situation that can partially be explained by the low number of pharmacies, vaccination centers, in black communities.

If we vaccinate two to three times more whites than blacks, we are not helping those who are the most fragile and vulnerable. Recent data indicates that people of color are not only more likely to be infected, but they also develop more serious complications that require more care.

In addition to his references to recent data, Fauci also pointed to the black community’s mistrust of immunization, a legitimate mistrust that is based on terrible historical facts.

If representatives of the black community have very limited confidence in a government vaccination operation, it is not out of denial of scientific progress, but rather because they retain a painful memory of what has been called “the” Tuskagee study ”.

Between 1932 and 1970, a clinical study on syphilis was conducted in Tuskagee, Alabama. Under the guise of government support, 600 African Americans, 399 of whom already had syphilis, were selected for a six-month study.

It took a leak in newspapers like the Washington post and the New York Times so that we realized in the early 1970s that the study was still active, that the participants had not been properly informed and, above all, that adequate treatments were not offered to those affected by disease.

For thirty years the participants were therefore used as guinea pigs to study the ravages of the disease. Thirty years during which people were left to suffer whose health deteriorated and whose suffering was often very severe. Several died from it.

So? Shall we vaccinate black people first? Anthony Fauci offers an answer that I think is adequate. Among the clienteles at risk to be vaccinated from the start, there are representatives of minorities, particularly those of the black community. The first step is to convince them to overcome a mistrust rooted in history.

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