‘Not a good fit,’ doctor says of Astra-Zeneca 

BELLINGHAM — The Lummi Indian Business Council announced Oct. 15 that Lummi Nation will withdraw from the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial. 

Doctors at Lummi Nation noted “ongoing communications challenges” with AstraZeneca representatives as a primary factor in withdrawing, according to a press release for the tribe.

AstraZeneca’s trial is currently on hold as the drug company assesses adverse reactions experienced by some trial volunteers.

“We will continue to look for ways to protect our people from this virus,” said Lawrence Solomon, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council. “But after consultation with the Lummi Public Health Department, it was clear that the AstraZeneca vaccine trial was not a good fit.” 

The Lummi Public Health Department has partnered with the University of Washington Department of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Coronavirus Prevention Network to explore voluntary participation in COVID-19 vaccine trials. Lummi Nation was one of three tribes in the country to enroll in a COVID-19 vaccine trial, a decision that was made after members of the Lummi Public Health Team consulted with Lummi tribal members and Lummi Indian Business Council members. 

“Native peoples are at greater risk for severe symptoms and death from COVID-19,” said Dr. Dakotah Lane, medical director of the Lummi Nation and a Lummi tribal member. “Yet we are rarely participants in the testing of life-saving vaccines and medications. This is a significant disadvantage to determining whether a vaccine is effective for American Indian populations.” 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Native Americans test positive for COVID-19 at a rate 2.8 times higher than non-Native populations, are hospitalized due to COVID-19 at a rate 5.3 times higher, and die from COVID-19 at a rate 1.4 times higher.

“We expect any vaccine trial we enroll in to meet the highest standards,” said Lane. “While the AstraZeneca trial is not a good fit at this time, we will assess future trials to see if they are safe and appropriate for our tribal members who wish to participate.”