UK: Covid-19 vaccine uptake tripled among ethnic minorities

By Hamed Chapman


London, (The Muslim News): The uptake of coronavirus vaccines among all ethnic minority groups has tripled since February, outpacing the national average, according to the Medical Director of Primary Care for NHS England

“Take-up among people from the Pakistani background is more than four times higher than it was in February, and a five-fold increase in people taking up the vaccine from a Bangladeshi background,” Dr Nikita Kanani has revealed.

However, last month, the Office for National Statistics had found that vaccine uptake among people aged 70 and over had been the worst among ethnic minorities, including those of Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritages which was the lowest rate after those from black heritages.

The Medical Director, speaking at the latest press briefing at Downing Street next to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said “really significant progress” has been made since the NHS set out its action plan to boost uptake among certain groups.

Concern around uptake felt “really personal to me both as a GP and as a woman of colour” and progress was a “direct result of a combination of NHS teams who know and understand their communities, community and faith leaders who’ve worked really closely with us,” she said.

There had been “practical considerations about Ramadan and other local nuances, and really strong vocal backing from high-profile people such as Bake Off’s Nadia Hussain, comedian Lenny Henry and TV star Adil Ray” and the top GP said she wanted to thank everyone involved.

Johnson also hailed the progress of the vaccination programme while announcing the launch of an “anti-viral taskforce” to search for new medicines to treat Covid and offer support for their development through clinical trials.

The aim was to make them “safely and rapidly available as early as the Autumn,” he said, exampling that “if you test positive there might be a tablet you could take at home to stop the virus in its tracks and significantly reduce the chance of infection turning into more severe disease.”

Under pressure about his planned controversial trip to meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, the British premier confirmed he had cancelled his visit as well as putting India on the country’s red list was only on a “purely precautionary basis”.

The UK’s former Chief Scientific Adviser, Prof Mark Walport, has warned that the delayed addition of India to the UK’s banned countries due to the surging rise in Covid-19 cases and concerns over a new variant may have come too late.

The Professor told the BBC on Tuesday that the variant was “more transmissible” and there were “good reasons” for keeping it out of the UK with India has been reporting more than 200,000 cases daily since April 15 and Delhi announcing a week-long lockdown after a record spike in cases overwhelmed the city’s healthcare system.

Speaking in Parliament, Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Yvette Cooper, questioned why the Government had delayed making a decision about India for three weeks and then was waiting several more days before implementing measures.

“Hong Kong this week have identified 47 Covid cases just on a single Delhi flight and we have still 16 more direct flights, many more indirect flights from India to here, before Friday alone,” she told Health Secretary, Matt Hancock.

During his press conference, Johnson insisted he could see “nothing in the data now that makes me think we are going to have to deviate in any way from the roadmap cautious but irreversible that we have set out.”

“But the majority of scientific opinion in this country is still firmly of the view that there will be another wave of covid at some stage this year,” he said, adding again that people “must as far as possible learn to live with this disease, as we live with other diseases.”

The Prime Minister predicted that there would be booster jabs in autumn to bolster people’s defences while anti-viral drugs would be “another vital defence against any future increase in infections”.

Dr David Nabarro, a special envoy on Covid-19 for the World Health Organization, has said that it’s a matter of when, not if, a coronavirus variant emerges that is resistant to vaccines.

“I want to be clear with you that I personally expect that variants will appear in different parts of the world that are capable of beating the protection offered by the vaccines,” Nabarro told Sky News.

“It’s not the case of if, but when. So I’m saying to everybody that I work with, we do have to maintain our respect for this virus. We can beat it, but it means maintaining the physical distance and wearing masks, and also being really good about isolating.”

[Photo: Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a COVID-19 press conference alongside Dr Nikki Kanani, Medical Director of Primary Care for NHS England in the Briefing Room in 9 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street]

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