Fauci wants people to know that one of lead scientists who developed the Covid-19 vaccine is a Black woman
(CNN) — Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging Black Americans hesitant to take the Covid-19 vaccine to trust the process -- in part because one of the scientists at the forefront of the vaccine's development is a Black woman.
But Fauci stressed that the upcoming Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, adding that African American scientists have been involved in their development.
"The very vaccine that's one of the two that has absolutely exquisite levels -- 94 to 95% efficacy against clinical disease and almost 100% 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," Fauci said.
"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," Fauci added. "And that is just a fact."
Experts are trying to build confidence
But skepticism among some people of color, especially Black Americans, remains high.
Corbett told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta that she sees vaccine hesitancy in Black communities firsthand. Rebuilding trust in medical institutions will take time, she said, and that's something that health experts have to accept.
For her part, Corbett said she is trying to help earn back that trust.
"Trust, especially when it has been stripped from people, has to be rebuilt in a brick-by-brick fashion," she said. "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."
Fauci addresses specific concerns
Fauci is taking a similar approach.
He said he generally hears two major concerns about the vaccines: the speed at which they were developed, and their safety and efficacy.
He also addressed concerns that pharmaceutical companies or the federal government couldn't be trusted to assess the safety of the vaccine, saying that both are advised by independent committees made up of experienced clinicians, scientists and ethicists.
Those independent experts, not politicians, determine whether the vaccine is safe for the public, he added.
"When they then say that the vaccine is safe and effective, I will tell you all that I, myself, will be perfectly comfortable in taking the vaccine and I will recommend it to my family," Fauci said.