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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

UC San Diego partners with National City on COVID-19 vaccine trial

The rate of spread of the coronavirus in National City and in the South Bay of San Diego has been disproportionately high compared to other parts of the county.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — UC San Diego has partnered with National City on a COVID-19 vaccine trial. Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and the city council unanimously voted in support of hosting one COVID-19 vaccine trial location in National City to strengthen vaccine trial access for the South Bay region.

“All of phase III investigational COVID-19 vaccines have gone through rigorous testing for safety and with this message we hope to clarify any questions members of the public may have regarding the testing location, its efforts and goals. It is important that working class communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 be considered when searching for a solution,” stated Mayor Sotelo-Solis.

The rate of spread of the coronavirus in National City and in the South Bay of San Diego has been disproportionately high compared to other parts of the county and experts attribute that to several factors, including the lack of resources and education to communities of color and low-income communities. But with UC San Diego now preparing to host a stage three vaccine trial, National City could soon lead the country in how to ensure underserved communities get the resources they need and more importantly, have easy access to a vaccine.

Nancy Maldonado, the CEO of the Chicano Federation based in San Diego discussed the need for resources that are appropriate and tailored for specific communities. By combining those resources with a vaccine trial, the goal is to set the standard for how to tackle this pandemic in underserved communities, especially with a high rate of spread.

"Really educating people about contact tracing what it is and why it is so important to participate. More specifically in a way that's linguistically and culturally appropriate in Spanish and messaging that's going to resonate with community members," Maldonado said.

Last month, the National City city council approved the two-year vaccine study to take place in the parking lot of El Toyon Park. Researchers say 1,000 people will receive the COVID vaccine while another 1,000 receive a placebo and the effects will be studied.

A big question around this trial is whether it's safe or not. 

Mayor Sotelo-Solis said vaccines have gone through rigorous testing for safety. 

A media conference was held at El Toyon park Tuesday where the mayor of National City, along with Dr. Susan Little of UC San Diego Health and Fatima Munoz, Director of Research and Health Promotions-San Ysidro Health COVID-19 Prevention Network San Diego partners were in attendance to answer questions about the new vaccine trial.

“We wanted to be located here in the heart of National City because this is one of the communities that has had the highest rate of COVID cases from across the entire county and we wanted to make this trial accessible to the communities that live nearby,” Little said.

For more information on how to participate in the trial, click here