Newswise — SEATTLE –  March 10, 2021 – The COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) is pleased to announce the release of the CoVPN Faith Initiative and Diversity Report, which provides a snapshot of key work to build trust, inform and engage the communities hardest hit by the pandemic in conversations about faith, COVID-19 and CoVPN clinical trials.

“With many racial and ethnic minorities distrustful of a healthcare system that has exploited them in the past, this has not been an easy task,” said Stephaun Wallace, PhD, Director of External Relations, COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network (CoVPN)/HVTN. “I’m very proud of our outreach efforts in these key communities and that this report captures highlights of these important conversations and their impact.” 

The CoVPN Faith Initiative was announced last fall. Since its launch, six Faith Ambassadors and 30 clergy consultants have been partnering with faith-based organizations throughout the country to lead virtual and in-person educational sessions, community town halls and information-sharing through new and existing faith gatherings, programs, organizations and support groups. 

Simultaneously, the CoVPN has hosted additional educational and discussion forums with academics, clinicians, and community leaders to listen, learn and meaningfully engage members of diverse communities in the COVID-19 research process.

Rev. Edwin C. Sanders II, who leads the CoVPN Faith Initiative, explained the CoVPN Faith Ambassadors’ work well when he told the Associated Press last September: “We’re not trying to twist anybody’s arm,” stressing that the key was to bring communities of color together with scientists and trusted community leaders for respectful, open conversations. “We’re trying to change consciousness and change mindset. It’s not a quick fix,” he said.

Details of the CoVPN’s work to address diversity in the COVID-19 vaccine trials and the major news coverage around these and our Faith Ambassadors’ efforts are highlighted in this CoVPN Faith Initiative and Diversity Report.

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About The COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN)

The COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) was formed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the US National Institutes of Health to respond to the global pandemic. Through the CoVPN, NIAID is leveraging the infectious disease expertise of its existing research networks and global partners to address the pressing need for vaccines and antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. CoVPN will work to develop and conduct studies to ensure rapid and thorough evaluation of vaccines and antibodies for the prevention of COVID-19. The CoVPN is headquartered at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.