Coronavirus vaccine czar urges Black Americans to put aside concerns about the vaccine, saying 'nobody's being used as a guinea pig'

By Connor Perrett

Moncef Slaoui, the head of the White House's operation "Warp Speed," urged the Black community to put aside their concerns and take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, saying Sunday that nobody is "being used as a guinea pig."

Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmithKline executive who was tapped by President Donald Trump earlier this year to lead the White House operation to push the development of a vaccine, made the remarks during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper on Sunday morning.

Tapper asked Slaoui how he planned to work to convince the African American community that the COVID-19 vaccine was safe, noting that the US "has an ugly, racist history when it comes to science and medicine and Black Americans."

"How specifically does Operation Warp Speed intend to address this skepticism, especially the disproportionate skepticism in the Black community?" Tapper asked.

Slaoui said it was an "important and saddening situation that's been worrying us all the time." He said he and his team had been working within the health community to ensure that Black and Latinx Americans were included in vaccine trials, as a measure to ensure the greater population that the vaccine is safe and effective.

As Insider's Taylor Ardrey previously reported, both Pfizer and Moderna worked to include more Black participants in their COVID-19 vaccine trials.

"That will be very important to helping us convey to the minority population the safety and the efficacy of these vaccines," Slaoui said. "Nobody's being used as a guinea pig."

According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in November, just 42% of Black Americans said they intended to get a vaccine, compared to 61% and 63% of white and Hispanic respondents who said they would likely or definitely take the vaccine.

Slaoui also Sunday pointed toward the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Black and Hispanic communities, saying the US needed to "stop that."

"It's really very, very important that people take the time to listen to the data, listen to the people they trust that have some expertise," Slaoui said. "Please don't make your opinion outside of having listened to the data and experts you trust."

He added: "When that happens I feel confident you will agree to be immunized, and that can help save your life."

Experts have warned that hesitations about taking the vaccine could extend the length of the pandemic, as Business Insider previously reported. Slaoui also said Sunday the vaccine for COVID-19 could be available to some in the US by the end of this week.