Fact check: Black people are not being targeted for UK coronavirus vaccine trials

Social media users are sharing a post claiming that “all the black people” are the first group to be targeted for trials of a COVID-19 vaccine in the UK. This claim is false. Ethnicity is not a factor in recruitment for the two current UK vaccination trials, and the Royal College of General Practitioners confirmed that GPs have not been told to vaccinate all black people.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Examples of the post shared on social media can be seen here , here , here , here .

Most of the posts are a direct copy of the same message. This fact check will focus on its key claims: “There is a coronavirus vaccination on trial in the U.K. and they are first targeting all the black people for this vaccination. The GPs have been instructed to vaccinate all black people living in the UK [...]”

As of the beginning of July, no vaccines against COVID-19 have been approved for use anywhere in the world. Eighteen candidates are currently in clinical evaluation ( here ). Two vaccines are being tested on humans in the UK in trials run by Imperial College London and Oxford University. Participation in both trials is voluntary ( here , here ).

Ethnic minorities are not currently included in the government’s two vaccine priority groups, set out in the preliminary guidance for when a vaccine is approved. The two groups are: (1) frontline health and social care workers; and (2) “those at increased risk of serious disease and death from COVID-19 stratified according to age and risk factors”. The government advice published on June 18 does state that work is ongoing to refine the identification of people at risk in the second category. “As well as age and underlying co-morbid conditions, the committee notes that early signals have been identified of other potential risk factors, including deprivation and ethnicity. As more evidence on at-risk groups emerges, this work will inform the review of the composition, and order of priority, of groups for vaccination.” ( here ).

Participation in the two UK-based clinical vaccination trials is not based on ethnicity. A spokesperson for Imperial College London told Reuters: “The clinical team has confirmed that ethnicity is not a factor in recruiting for the Imperial College London COVID-19 vaccine trial. There has been no targeted recruitment to reach a particular demographic.”

A spokesperson for the Oxford University COVID-19 vaccination trial team told Reuters that the trials are not targeting black people: “We can confirm this claim is false. We invite all members of the population over 18 years old in the UK into the Phase III trial. Currently no data is available on the composition of our trial participants.”

The widely shared social media post also claims that GPs have been instructed to vaccinate all black people living in the UK. A spokesperson for the Royal College of General Practitioners said: “We are unaware of any such advice being issued to GPs.” They reiterated that as of yet no vaccination has been officially approved for use.


False. Black people are not being targeted as the first trial group for COVID-19 vaccinations in the UK.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .