Dr. Anthony Fauci is attempting to assuage the discomfort of Black people who are averse to taking the COVID-19 vaccine by noting a Black woman scientist was involved in its development.
“The very vaccine that’s one of the two that has absolutely exquisite levels — 94 to 95 percent efficacy against clinical disease and almost 100 percent efficacy against serious disease that are shown to be clearly safe — that vaccine was actually developed in my institute’s vaccine research center by a team of scientists led by Dr. Barney Graham and his close colleague, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, or Kizzy Corbett,” Dr. Fauci said.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert made the comments when he was asked how “to break down the myths and the historic trepidation” during a virtual conversation called “Making It Plain: A Conversation with Dr. Fauci and The Black Community.”
Corbett, a viral immunologist, rose to public prominence in March when it was revealed she was a lead scientist with Dr. Barney Graham’s coronavirus team in the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health. She was among the team of scientists who met with President Donald Trump in April when he took a tour of NIH’s Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory.
In addition to over 10 years of research experience, Corbett holds a Ph.D in microbiology and immunology and graduated from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County with a degree in sociology in 2008.
A few tweets have resurfaced of Corbett speaking candidly about the medical community. In a March tweet, she alleged the poor Black community may be overlooked for treatment if ventilators were in short supply.
The following month she “plead the fifth” on the suggestion that the pandemic is an act of genocide against Blacks.
Dr. Fauci said while he understands the Black community’s mistrust due to decades of racism in medical care and inhumane experimentation on Black Americans, the pending COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
He reiterated his claims were underscored by the involvement of Corbett — who came under fire for tweets dating back to February which addressed the correlation between systemic racism and medical malpractice.
“Kizzi is an African-American scientist who is right at the forefront of the development of the vaccine,” Fauci added. “So, the first thing you might want to say to my African-American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman. And that is just a fact.”
A recent survey by the COVID Collaborative showed only 14 percent of Black Americans trust the safety of a vaccine, while slightly more, 18 percent, believed it would actually work.
Corbett told CNN she understood why Black Americans had reservations and noted the medical profession had work to do to earn the community’s trust again.
“I would say to people who are vaccine-hesitant that you’ve earned the right to ask the questions that you have around these vaccines and this vaccine development process,” Corbett said. “Trust, especially when it has been stripped from people, has to be rebuilt in a brick-by-brick fashion. … And so, what I say to people firstly is that I empathize, and then secondly is that I’m going to do my part in laying those bricks. And I think that if everyone on our side, as physicians and scientists, went about it that way, then the trust would start to be rebuilt.”
Reports of Fauci’s comments were met with mixed reviews on social media. While some Twitter users asked why Corbett’s race should even matter, others praised Corbett being recognized for her great work. Still, others said they didn’t care if a Black woman was involved, they still would not take the vaccine.
“Why is this a headline?” tweeted user @blondieinohio in response to one of TMZ’s tweets about it.
“Almost everyone mentioing (sic) why is this news happens to be Caucasian. That’s part of privilege minorities hardly ever hear about our accomplishments, history in school is about whites minorities have take classes to learn about ours. And considering the % of population that we are,” responded user @RafaelBoriqua.
“Boy there’s nothing they won’t try in an attempt to convince people to take this poison. It’s a SOLID “NO” for me,” wrote user @MichieMonique.