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Addressing Lack of Diversity and Inclusivity in Response to COVID-19

COVID-19 has been leaving an unforgettable impact, over the population around the globe, regardless of their gender, location, or race. The healthcare industry is undoubtedly one of the most affected by this pandemic, as the virus has posed immense pressure and multiple challenges for it with regards to diagnosing cases correctly, handling the increasing number of victims, and preventing others from falling victim to the virus.

With increased challenges comes greater responsibility-- which paves the way for identifying areas that need improvement and driving innovative solutions to deal with those areas. This is the time for healthcare providers and life sciences companies to be thinking about their role in creating equity within the industry along with navigating the new normal that we are all experiencing globally and trying to get used to.

As we are all stuck in a situation that is affecting everyone equally, in a strange way it is telling us to incorporate equality and appreciate diversity in the world around us. As pharmaceutical companies are working day in and out to create a vaccine and antivirus to defeat this pandemic, it is important to do so with an inclusive and holistic approach that keeps everyone in consideration. A ProPublica analysis found that African Americans and Native Americans are under-represented in clinical trials of new drugs, even when the treatment is aimed at illnesses that disproportionately affect them.

Moreover, last year, the FDA released guidance on increasing diversity and inclusivity in clinical trial design, as studies show that only 5% of participants are African American (12% of the US Population) and 1% are of Hispanic descent (16% of the population). This lack of inclusivity is likely to affect patient outcomes adversely. Therefore, regardless of the drug being designed and tested, there should be a strong focus on eliminating bias to ensure everyone gets the treatment they deserve.

To sum it up with a silver lining, the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted areas in which the life science and healthcare industries can improve the quality of their practices and broaden their approach to ensure the equal and proactive provision of services to all patient populations.

Author: Sarah Anderson

Date: June 06, 2020