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The Boris Johnson government on Tuesday reiterated its call to people of Indian, Asian, Afro-Caribbean and other racial origins to volunteer for ongoing vaccine trials, including those by the University of Oxford–AstraZeneca.

The non-white community has been disproportionately affected by coronavirus pandemic, prompting the government to launch an inquiry. Currently the community is under-represented in six vaccine clinical trials taking place across the UK.

Officials said that of the 270,000 people who had signed up to the NHS Vaccine Registry (launched in July), only 11,000 volunteers are from Asian and British Asian backgrounds, and just 1,200 are Black, African, Caribbean or Black British.

Thousands of people from different ages and backgrounds are urgently needed to help speed up their development and ensure they work effectively for the whole population, the officials added.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “Coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of their background, age or race. To ensure we can find a safe and effective vaccine that works for everyone, we all need to get involved”.

That’s why we are urging more people to support our incredible scientists and join the 270,000 people who have already signed-up so we can speed up efforts to find a vaccine to defeat this virus once and for all.” he added.

Maheshi Ramasamy, consultant in Infectious Diseases and Acute General Medicine and principal investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group, added: “We know that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are disproportionately affected by Covid in terms of severe disease and mortality.”

“So when we do have a vaccine that we roll out to the general population, it’s really important that we can demonstrate to people from these communities that we have evidence that the vaccine works.”

The UK government set up a Vaccine Taskforce in May to ensure speedy access to clinically effective and safe vaccines, while working with partners to support international access.