A Georgia news anchor participated in the first round of Phase 3 vaccine trials for the coronavirus, according to CNN.
Dawn Baker, an anchor at CNN affiliate WTOC in Savannah, made history on Monday as the first volunteer to take the injection in the United States.
“This is really, to me, very empowering that I could be that person who could help save some lives. It’s been very heartbreaking to hear about people who’ve lost their lives because of this,” Baker said.
“I never thought that I’d do something like this,” Baker said. “I just hope that they’re really, really good results. I know a lot of people are doing a lot of different vaccine trials.”
The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a cause of national concern as numbers steadily rise. In America, there have been 4.53M cases since the onset of the pandemic, while over 155,000 people have died. Globally, there have been over 17M cases and over 667,000 deaths. All the while, Black and brown communities continue to be disproportionately affected by the novel virus, while also grappling with continued state-sanctioned violence.
According to the World Health Organization, there are at least 25 COVID-19 vaccine candidates, with five in phase 3 trials. Phase 3 is the most advanced stage before going to market.
Baker participated in a cross effort trial between biotech company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The trial will take place at 89 research sites and will include 30,000 adult volunteers who will receive two 100 microgram injections of either the vaccine or a placebo to evaluate if the vaccine can prevent COVID-19.
Baker’s participation comes after members of our community have spoken about the lengthy history of distrust evoked by America’s history of testing on Black communities, mostly against their will and without their consent or knowledge.
In South Africa, members of the local community protested after a clinical vaccination trial began at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. That particular trial was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Baker acknowledged the racist medical history America inhabits in her interview but remained vigilant that she is focused on saving lives.
“African Americans have a history of — for good reason — being concerned about medicine. In the past, we’ve been subject to all kinds of experiments where we didn’t know what was going on,” Baker said.
“I have heard a lot of friends of mine and even relatives who said that you know, ‘I won’t be the first person to get this vaccine. I don’t want to be the guinea pig. I’m going to wait and see what happens first.’ So they’re very suspicious. So maybe since I was at least bold enough to come forward right now, that might change that — that could eventually save their lives,” Baker said. “I hope that maybe just seeing my face will help them to change their opinions about that.”