Covid UK: 72% of black Britons say they are 'unlikely' to get jab

SAGE experts blame ‘institutional racism’ in medical industry and ‘historical unethical healthcare research’ as study shows 72% of black Britons say they are ‘unlikely or very unlikely’ to get the Covid vaccine

  • Poll has found 72% of black Britons are ‘unlikely’ to get the coronavirus jab
  • SAGE report blamed ‘institutional racism’ for BAME vaccine scepticism
  • GPs are urging No10 to begin public health campaign targeting BAME groups    

SAGE has blamed ‘structural and institutional racism and discrimination’ for vaccine scepticism among BAME communities as a recent survey found 72 per cent of black people were unlikely to have the Covid jab.

A report from the Government’s scientific advisory committee said historical issues of unethical healthcare research and systemic racism are key factors for lower levels of trust in Britain’s mass vaccination programme.

The experts were responding to a shock new poll conducted by the UK Household Longitudinal Study which found that vaccine scepticism among black, Asian and ethnic minority groups in the UK is high.

Though the study, conducted in November with 12,000 respondents, found overall high levels of willingness to be vaccinated – at 82 per cent – 72 per cent of black people said they were unlikely or very unlikely to be vaccinated.

Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Eastern European groups also said they were unwilling to take the Covid jab, while women, younger people and those with lower levels of education were also more hesitant than others.

The SAGE report concluded: ‘Trust is particularly important for black communities that have low trust in healthcare organisations and research findings due to historical issues of unethical healthcare research.

Joanmes de-Gallerie receiving a vaccine at the Nightingale facility at the Excel Centre, London

A health worker administers an injection of a COVID-19 vaccine inside a former nightclub that has been turned into a NHS vaccine centre in Batchwood Hall, in St Albans

SAGE has blamed ‘structural and institutional racism and discrimination’ for vaccine scepticism among BAME communities as a recent survey found 72 per cent of black people were unlikely to have the Covid jab

‘Trust is also undermined by structural and institutional racism and discrimination. Minority ethnic groups have historically been underrepresented within health research, including vaccines trials, which can influence trust in a particular vaccine being perceived as appropriate and safe, and concerns that immunisation research is not ethnically heterogenous.’ 

The findings have sparked concern among GPs who are now calling on No10 to begin a public health campaign that encourages black people in particular to receive a coronavirus vaccine. 

Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘We are concerned that recent reports show that people within BAME communities are not only more likely to be adversely affected by the virus but also less likely to accept the Covid vaccine, when offered it.

  • ‘As such, where appropriate, we’re calling for public health communications to be tailored to patients in BAME communities, to reassure them about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine and ultimately encourage them to come forward for their vaccination when they are invited for it.’

It comes after vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi admitted that he feared black and ethnic minorities may see a lower take-up of the jab. 

In other coronavirus news: 

  • The Covid-19 mass vaccine programme will not have an impact on hospital admissions or death rates until ‘well into February’, national medical director for NHS England Stephen Powis warned today; 
  • Ministers are facing a major Tory revolt over whether to extend the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit during pandemic; 
  • First Minister Mark Drakeford has defended the slower rollout of the vaccination programme in Wales – saying the Pfizer vaccine could not be used all at once; 
  • Matt Hancock told a Downing Street briefing there should be a ‘national debate’ on which groups should be prioritised for the vaccine once the over-50s have received the jab; 
  • Coronavirus was the leading cause of death in England last year and accounted for one in eight fatalities, official data has revealed; 
  • There has been chaos at airports as the new rules on negative tests came into force.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi fears Covid-19 will ‘quickly infect’ communities who avoid getting the jab, as false information plays on some cultures’ religious concerns 

There are concerns language and cultural barriers are feeding the spread of false information as the Government scientific advice panel revealed large differences in different communities taking the vaccine. 

Mr Zahawi said: ‘My big worry is if 85 per cent of the adult population get vaccinated, if the 15 per cent skews heavily to the BAME community, the virus will very quickly infect that community.’ 

Matt Hancock says vaccination drive is ‘a full seven-day’ service despite apparent drop in numbers at weekends – with health chiefs blaming ‘data lag’ for dip amid calls to increase to 24/7 delivery 

Matt Hancock has insisted the UK’s ambitious vaccination drive is a ‘full seven-day service’ – despite an apparent drop in the number of people receiving jabs at the weekend.

This week’s figures showed a total of 321,951 people received a dose of the Oxford or Pfizer vaccine on Thursday – followed by a further 328,260 on Friday.

The figures – which include both first and second doses – then drop to 280,390 on Saturday, followed by another dip to 227,972 on Sunday.

Public Health England today blamed the lower weekend figures on reporting delays, as the Health Secretary insisted the roll-out was a ‘full seven-day service’ with the Government ‘prepared to go 24/7’.

When asked about the drop in figures at today’s daily Downing Street press briefing, Mr Hancock urged Britons to look at weekly averages rather than data from an individual day.  

The minister, who himself was born in Baghdad, Iraq, said he was working with local mayors and councils to get the message across to ‘hard-to-reach groups,’ that the vaccine is safe.  

Among the barriers to the vaccine uptake is the perception of risk, low confidence in the vaccine, and lack of endorsement from trusted providers and community leaders, the undated document said.

Mr Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I am worried about BAME communities, which is why I’m spending a lot of time with the mayors, with Sadiq (Khan), and of course other parts of local government to make sure we reach those hard-to-reach groups.  

Concerns have been raised that misinformation spread within some BAME communities plays on religious concerns – that the vaccine might contain gelatine, or other animal products and is not halal, or that it can result in modification of DNA.

Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, has said language and cultural barriers play a part in the false information being distributed.

He said: ‘We need to be clear to our communities that there is no meat or meat products in the vaccine. There is no pork, there is no alcohol and it has been endorsed by religious leaders and religious councils.

‘Organisations and officials are working with social Asian role models, community leaders, influencers, religious leaders, to help to debunk some of the myths that are out there.’

Dr Naqvi said is essential for the NHS to tailor its services to meet ‘the diverse needs of our communities’.

Salman Waqar, from the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA), who works as a GP in Berkshire and academic researcher at Oxford University, is helping set up one of the local vaccination hubs.

‘Some of my colleagues have said that they struggled to book in minority community patients, particularly the elderly,’ he said.

‘If you look at data from influenza, that’s also showed a lower uptake amongst minority communities, so it’s not surprising in that sense.

‘There is a lot of misinformation, a lot of fog. And people really need help seeing through that fog. 

‘When you do actually sit them down and explain to them, ‘these are the myths’, a lot people turn around and they do change their minds.’

It comes as a campaign in Bradford aimed at a debunking myths and fake news surrounding the vaccine was declared a success. 

Well Bradford, a community health programme hosted by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, teamed up with local GP Dr Sohail Abbas to help get the message across. 

Among priority groups for the vaccine are gravediggers employed in the Muslim section of Scholemoor cemetery, Bradford.       

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