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Doctor joins COVID-19 vaccine trial to combat mistrust in the Black community – 680 News

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Racialized communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in infections and deaths, but as the vaccine provides hope for many across the world, doctors are working to combat mistrust in the COVID-19 vaccine within the Black and Indigenous communities.

One doctor in the United States took matters into her own hands, by signing up to be a part of a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial and sharing her story online.

Dr. Valerie Fitzhugh is an Associate Professor of Pathology at Rutgers University Medical School. In a thread shared on Twitter, Fitzhugh detailed why she decided to join the trial and what it was like participating in one.

Fitzhugh tells CityNews she initially decided to research participating in a clinical trial because historically, it’s very difficult to get communities of colour to trust in medical establishments and to trust in some of these scientific developments, citing Henrietta Lacks’ story as just one example of this.

In the 1950s, researchers took a sample of cancer cells from Lacks without her permission while she was under anesthesia and found the cells could be grown indefinitely.

The so-called “HeLa” cells became crucial for understanding viruses, cancer treatments, in-vitro fertilization and development of vaccines, including the polio vaccine.

“There is a lot of mistrust, particularly in the Black community in the United States, around experimentation on black and brown bodies which happened, unfortunately, quite a lot in the earlier parts of the 19th century,” Fitzhugh said.

She had also heard that participation by people of colour in COVID-19 vaccine trials was low.

“Everything I had heard and everything I read had noted that the participation by people of colour was a lot lower than what they wanted at that time,” Fitzhugh said.

“The biggest driving force for me was representation by the Black community. I felt like doing my part and adding to that trial. Giving a little bit something of myself for the greater good made it so worth it.”

A study on race and health conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation in the U.S. found that Black adults were less likely than any other groups to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Just 17 per cent of Black adults said they would definitely get the vaccine and 27 per cent said they would definitely not get it.

Fitzhugh said by sharing her story, she hoped to open up an important discussion within the Black community about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Since tweeting on Dec. 12, her story has been retweeted almost 10,000 times.

“I want people to be educated. You have to trust the process and trust the science. If I at least tell my story and tell what I went though, it may give people an idea what to expect, should they get vaccinated,” Fitzhugh said.

Dr. Fitzhugh could not disclose the trial she is participating in, but said she received her first dose in October and second in November. She doesn’t know if she received a placebo or the actual vaccine at this point.

Dr. Fitzhugh says she could be “unblinded” soon and find out whether she has been vaccinated. She’s currently eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through her work as a physician, but doesn’t want to take the vaccine away from another doctor or hospital worker if it is not necessary.

“I’m tired of seeing people who look like me die of this disease.”

“What I find to be so important now is that we have these discussions, we openly discuss why the hesitancy is there, why the mistrust is there so that we can have educated conversations going forward about people at least considering being vaccinated,” Dr. Fitzhugh said. “I don’t think trying to convincing people to be vaccinate is the appropriate approach. We need to have the conversations, acknowledge the hesitancy and why it’s there.”

Fitzhugh says hearing so many stories and seeing the pain of those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic made it all the more important to become apart of the trial.

“I’m tired of seeing people who look like me die of this disease.”

“I hope people at least consider being vaccinated. I do want people to get the information that’s available. I want people to talk to their physicians…and ask the difficult questions,” she said.

Gerald Evans, the Chair for Infection Diseases at Queen’s University, says there is a clear difference between those who are hesitant to receive a vaccine and so-called “anti-vaxxers.”

“It isn’t anti-vaxxer at all. There is an intrinsic hesitancy when you think to yourself ‘Were there enough people who are like me enrolled in these studies so I can be confident about the data?’ Over history, there has been a significant disadvantage amongst people who were not white in scientific studies,” Evans said.

With most of the data around vaccine hesitancy and mistrust coming from the U.S., Evans said they are making a push to collect similar data in Canada as vaccine rollout plans continue to be formulated.

“I know that there is a big move to make sure we do the same move here in Canada, getting away from just general polling information and really understanding within these communities what is the feeling about taking the vaccine,” Evans said.

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How Canada's 742531 COVID-19 cases break down by province | News – Daily Hive

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Canada has seen 742,531 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began nearly a year ago in March 2020. Of that total, 64,573 cases are currently active.

As of January 24, Ontario has seen the highest cumulative COVID-19 case count of any province or territory.

Based on data from the federal government, the province has recorded 252,585 virus cases to date.

Quebec has the second-highest case count, with 252,176 reported as of January 24. Alberta follows, with 120,330 total cases.

Ontario COVID-19 cases

Government of Canada

British Columbia has confirmed 63,484 coronavirus cases to date, while Manitoba has seen 28,476 cases, and Saskatchewan has recorded 21,917.

Other parts of the country have seen far fewer cases throughout the pandemic, with some provinces and territories yet to reach 1,000 cumulative cases.

Nova Scotia has reported 1,570 COVID-19 cases since March 2020, and New Brunswick has confirmed 1,104. Newfoundland and Labrador has seen 398 cases as of January 24.

There have been 267 coronavirus cases in Nunavut and 110 in Prince Edward Island. Yukon has reported 70 virus cases to date, and the Northwest Territories has seen 31.

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This Mississauga neighbourhood has one of the highest COVID-19 percent positivity rates in Ontario – insauga.com

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One Mississauga neighbourhood has one of the highest COVID-19 percent positivity rates (percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in the area) in Ontario, according to Toronto-based research group ICES.

ICES provided an overview of the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of individuals in Ontario who tested and confirmed positive for COVID-19 during the week of January 10 to 16.

From January 10 to 16, the Mississauga area with postal code beginning with L5W (area of Derry and Mavis Rd) had one the highest percent positivity rates at 16.9%.

The top 10 Ontario neighbourhoods included five from Peel:

  1. L6P, Brampton at 19.4% (area of Castlemore and The Gore Rd)
  2. L5W, Mississauga at 16.9% (area of Derry and Mavis Rd)
  3. L6T, Brampton at 16.6% (area of Highway 407 from the 410 to Goreway Dr)
  4. L6W, Brampton at 16.0% (area of Steeles Ave East and Kennedy Rd South)
  5. L6R, Brampton at 15.8% (area of Bramalea Rd at Sandalwood Pkwy East)

The rest of the top 10 constituted four neighbourhoods in Toronto and one in York Region.

Three notable findings

According to ICES’ data, Peel had the highest percent positivity (11.7%) out of all of Ontario’s 34 Public Health Units, followed by Toronto and Windsor-Essex County. Ontario’s overall percent positivity was 5.4%.

notable findings

“The percent positivity was relatively lower among persons living in long-term care homes (4.5%), compared to those not living in long-term care (5.5%),” ICES said.

“Twelve FSAs (forward sortation areas) had 15% positivity or greater (within Toronto, Peel, and York), representing a decrease in the number of high-positivity FSAs compared to the week of January 3 (during which twenty four FSAs had greater than 15% positivity). Numerous high-positivity FSAs (L5W, L6W, L6Y, L4T, N4W, M6M, M1C, L4Z, N8H, MU, L4L, M2J, M2R) were also experiencing outbreaks in long-term care homes.”

ICES says percent positivity increased among children over the course of December, but these changes did not always correlate with changes in incidence, likely due in part to decreased testing rates.

Testing rates decreased over the course of December for all age groups, especially for children aged 2-13 years.

The full data is available to read here.

Images courtesy of ICES

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How Canada's 742531 COVID-19 cases break down by province | News – Daily Hive

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Canada has seen 742,531 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began nearly a year ago in March 2020. Of that total, 64,573 cases are currently active.

As of January 24, Ontario has seen the highest cumulative COVID-19 case count of any province or territory.

Based on data from the federal government, the province has recorded 252,585 virus cases to date.

Quebec has the second-highest case count, with 252,176 reported as of January 24. Alberta follows, with 120,330 total cases.

Ontario COVID-19 cases

Government of Canada

British Columbia has confirmed 63,484 coronavirus cases to date, while Manitoba has seen 28,476 cases, and Saskatchewan has recorded 21,917.

Other parts of the country have seen far fewer cases throughout the pandemic, with some provinces and territories yet to reach 1,000 cumulative cases.

Nova Scotia has reported 1,570 COVID-19 cases since March 2020, and New Brunswick has confirmed 1,104. Newfoundland and Labrador has seen 398 cases as of January 24.

There have been 267 coronavirus cases in Nunavut and 110 in Prince Edward Island. Yukon has reported 70 virus cases to date, and the Northwest Territories has seen 31.

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