COVID-19 Trials: Who Participates and Who Benefits?



The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has disproportionately afflicted vulnerable populations. Older adults, particularly residents of nursing facilities, represent a small percentage of the population but account for 40% of mortality from COVID-19 in the United States. Racial and ethnic minority individuals, particularly Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous Americans have experienced higher rates of infection and death than the White population. Although there has been an unprecedented explosion of clinical trials to examine potential therapies, participation by members of these vulnerable communities is crucial to obtaining data generalizable to those communities.


We undertook an open-label, factorial randomized clinical trial examining hydroxychloroquine and/or azithromycin for hospitalized patients.


Of 53 screened patients, 11 (21%) were enrolled. Ten percent (3/31) of Black patients were enrolled, 33% (7/21) of White patients, and 50% (6/12) of Hispanic patients. Forty-seven percent (25/53) of patients declined participation despite eligibility; 58%(18/31) of Black patients declined participation. Forty percent (21/53) of screened patients were from a nursing facility and 10% (2/21) were enrolled. Enrolled patients had fewer comorbidities than nonenrolled patients: median modified Charlson comorbidity score 2.0 (interquartile range 0-2.5), versus 4.0 (interquartile range 2-6) for nonenrolled patients (P = 0.006). The limitations of the study were the low participation rate and the multiple treatment trials concurrently recruiting at our institution.


The high rate of nonparticipation in our trial of nursing facility residents and Black people emphasizes the concern that clinical trials for therapeutics may not target key populations with high mortality rates.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Narayanasamy, Shanti, Ahmad Mourad, Nicholas A Turner, Thuy Le, Robert J Rolfe, Nwora Lance Okeke, Sean M O'Brien, Arthur W Baker, et al. (2022). COVID-19 Trials: Who Participates and Who Benefits?. Southern medical journal, 115(4). pp. 256–261. 10.14423/smj.0000000000001374 Retrieved from

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Ahmad Mourad

House Staff

Nicholas Turner

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Thuy Le

Associate Professor of Medicine

Nwora Lance Okeke

Associate Professor of Medicine

Sean Michael O'Brien

Associate Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Statistical methods for healthcare provider profiling; observational studies; Bayesian data analysis.


Arthur Wakefield Baker

Associate Professor of Medicine

Frank Wesley Rockhold

Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Frank is a full time Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and Faculty Director for Biostatistics at Duke University Medical Center, Affiliate Professor of Biostatistics at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Strategic Consultant at Hunter Rockhold, Inc.  His 40+-year career includes senior research positions at Lilly, Merck, and GlaxoSmithKline, where he retired as Chief Safety Officer and Senior Vice President of Global Clinical Safety and Pharmacovigilance.  He has held faculty appointments at six different universities.    Dr. Rockhold served for 9 years on the board of directors of the non-profit CDISC, most recently as Chairman, and is past president of the Society for Clinical Trials and a past member of the PCORI Clinical Trials Advisory Panel. He is currently Chair of the Board of the Frontier Science and Technology Research Foundation and a technical advisor to EMA.

Dr. Rockhold has diverse research interests and consulting experience in industry and academia including clinical trials design, data monitoring, benefit/risk, safety and pharmacovigilance and has been a leader in the scientific community in promoting data disclosure and transparency in clinical research.    Frank is widely published in major scientific journals across a wide variety of research topics.

Frank holds a BA in Statistics from The University of Connecticut, an ScM in Biostatistics from The Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in Biostatistics from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University. Frank is an Elected Fellow of both the American Statistical Association and the Society for Clinical Trials, a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, an Accredited Professional Statistician, PStat®, and a Chartered Statistician, CStat.  


Susanna Naggie

Professor of Medicine

Dr. Susanna Naggie completed her undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering and biochemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park, and her medical education at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She conducted her internal medicine and infectious diseases fellowship training at Duke University Medical Center, where she also served as Chief Resident. She joined the faculty in the Duke School of Medicine in 2009. She is a Professor of Medicine and currently holds appointments at the Duke University School of Medicine, at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Naggie is a clinical investigator with a focus in clinical trials in infectious diseases and translational research in HIV and liver disease. She is a standing member of the DHHS Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents and the CDC/NIH/IDSA-HIVMA Opportunistic Infections Guideline. She is the Vice Dean for Clinical and Translational Research and Director for the Duke Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.


Jason Eric Stout

Professor of Medicine

My research focuses on the epidemiology, natural history, and treatment of tuberculosis and nontuberculous mycobacterial infections. I am also interested in the impact of HIV infection on mycobacterial infection and disease, and in examining health disparities as they relate to infectious diseases, particularly in immigrant populations.

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