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T.D. Jakes Hosts COVID-19 Panel Discussion with Fauci and Experts

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There is skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine in the African American community that can’t be ignored, chief presidential medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told Bishop T.D. Jakes in a panel discussion titled “Unpacking the Covid-19 Vaccine,” recorded as part of Jakes’ ongoing video series “Conversations with America.”

But Fauci assured Jakes, the bishop of The Potter’s House, a non-denominational megachurch in Dallas, Texas, that vaccine trials went the “extra mile” to include minority groups, the Dallas News reported.

“We’ve got to get the representation because we want to be able to say, ‘We’ve tested the vaccine on people who look like you and we know it’s safe and effective,’” Fauci said.

Just 42 percent of Black Americans said in December they would get the vaccine, compared to more than 60 percent of whites and Hispanics, according to a Pew Research Center survey. But Fauci said 70–85% of the population in general will need to be vaccinated for the country to get back to normal.

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“We’re all in this together,” Fauci said. “Please get vaccinated for your safety and your community’s safety.”

An introduction to a recording of the discussion posted on YouTube says it “seeks to be a resting place for the worries of the American people.”

“In a country gripped by the ongoing pandemic, it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction with the developing COVID-19 vaccine in mind. As fears compound and questions go unanswered, to where do we lean to find truth?” it says.

The panel, moderated by Dallas family medicine specialist Dr. Jill Waggoner, also included Dr. Kizzy Corbett, a viral immunologist and researcher at the National Institute of Infectious and Allergic Disease’s Vaccine Research Center, and Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine.

The panelists addressed common fears about the vaccine, including the speed with which it was developed, worries that it will alter recipients’ genetic structure and the severity of side effects.

Corbett said the name “Operation Warp Speed” may have led some people to believe the vaccine was developed quickly but not carefully, but said, “There have not been any particular parts that have been skipped throughout the process.”

Ogbuagu said side effects in most cases are mild to moderate, including pain and swelling at the injection side, fever, chills, tiredness, and headaches, but are “definitely tolerable.”

Fauci said side effects can actually be a good sign that the body’s immune reaction is working. As far as long-term effects, he said, “People hear RNA and they think, ‘Is this going to do anything to my genes?’ Not a chance.”

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.