The first Transform Westside Summit of 2021 offered a deep dive into the most recent updates on COVID-19 and facts about the new vaccine. As the U.S. continues to experience record numbers of infections and deaths, the conversation was both timely and necessary. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the state has confirmed 87,917 new cases within the last two weeks alone. The summit panel featured two experts on the subject: Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, President & Dean, Morehouse School of Medicine; as well as Dr. Norberto Fas, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the Veterans Affairs, Morehouse School of Medicine. The pair discussed the newest strain of the virus, the importance of vaccinations, and medical transparency when serving Black and brown communities.
Recently featured on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta while receiving her first round of the vaccine, Dr. Montgomery Rice addressed concerns within the Black community about the vaccine, acknowledging the historical mistreatment of people of color by the medical community such as in the Tuskegee Syphilis Studies and the Mississippi Appendectomies. Determined to help build trust around the vaccine, Dr. Montgomery Rice assured, “I wouldn’t put anything in my body that I didn’t believe was safe.” Dr. Montgomery Rice went on to discuss the importance of Phase III trials for vaccines and how critical they are for discovering unanticipated side effects while in a controlled environment. Urging that equity in healthcare requires adequate representation in clinical trials, Morehouse School of Medicine, a beacon of high quality care, encourages people of color to participate in its efforts to provide robust and trustworthy data regarding the effectiveness of vaccines in Black and brown communities.
Underscoring the need for inclusive medicine, Dr. Norberto Fas brought a plethora of sobering statistics to the discussion, pointing out that outbreaks, hospitalizations, and deaths for Black and brown communities are disproportionately higher than others. Dr. Fas noted that the rate of death for African Americans due to Covid-19 is twice as high as that of their white counterparts.
Dr. Fas pleaded that “the patriotic thing to do is to wear a mask, continue to practice social distancing, and get vaccinated.” Click here to join the fight against COVID-19 by participating in a clinical trial for the vaccine, or call Morehouse School of Medicine’s hotline at 1.888.788.0644.