The COVID-19 death rate for Black people in the U.S. is nearly triple that of white Americans, with one in 1,000 Black Americans dying from the disease.
An effective vaccine is on the horizon, but there’s ongoing concern over whether people will trust the vaccine. Black people make up 13% of the U.S. population but only account for 5% of the vaccine trial participants.
Dr. Chris Pernell considered all of this when the New Jersey public health physician signed up for the Moderna vaccine trial after her father, Timothy Pernell Sr., died at 78 from COVID-19 in April. Pernell Sr. worked as a research scientist at Bell Labs for more than 30 years.
“It's been a surreal time. I think those are the best words that I can use to describe it,” she says. “We lost my dad at a time when the epicenter of the pandemic had firmly landed on Newark, New Jersey.”