NIH Announces COVID-19 Initiative to Connect With High-Risk Patient Populations

December 15, 2020 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, Former ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

The assault on science, medicine, and  research has never been stronger, flooding social media ( and communities with misinformation about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s new research initiative, the Community Engagement Alliance ( (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities, provides community education in the areas hit hardest by the virus.  

To increase access to accurate and trustworthy information, CEAL is:  

CEAL supports and expands on existing NIH community outreach, such as the ACTIV ( (treatments), RADx ( (diagnostics), and COVPN ( (vaccines) programs, and establishes additional communication networks through engagement with trusted entities. 

The initiative also highlights the importance of minority representation in clinical trials and encourages those who live in regions with high infection and death rates to join testing, treatment, vaccine, and other COVID-19 research studies. 

“Through joint local efforts, we believe we can ensure that the best, most accurate information reaches these communities, and that they are informed about, and included in, diverse research studies essential for developing safe, effective treatments, and vaccines for all,” Gary H. Gibbons, MD, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, said in a joint opinion piece (  

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