Although COVID-19 racial disparities have been widely noted, a further disparity relating to clinical trial inclusion has not been studied in as much detail. Racial disparities in clinical trials matter, chiefly because interactions with common racial or socioeconomic comorbidities may be difficult to predict without sufficient data.
This study, published in Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, analyzes a number of clinical trials to determine the quality of race reporting and overall racial disparities in clinical trials.
The researchers created a database of all available studies organized by date, treatment type, and participant racial makeup. They also collected data on overall COVID-19 rates relating to the demographics studied in relevant clinical trials and specific to the time the trials took place.
Of the studies published in the United States at the time of publication, only four reported race or ethnicity data. In every study, Black patients were underrepresented in the data relative to the overall population metrics in the cities where the studies took place.
The researchers note that these results are troubling for two main reasons. First, they provide evidence of a growing disparity in treatment that can be widened due to improperly created trials. Second, without increased reporting of race and ethnicity in trials, we cannot accurately assess the situation .
Source: Borno, H. T., Zhang, S., & Gomez, S. (2020). COVID-19 disparities: An urgent call for race reporting and representation in clinical research. Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, 19, 100630. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.conctc.2020.100630