Government failing to address Covid disparities, especially on vaccination

19th Mar 2021
Government failing to address Covid disparities, especially on vaccination

When the sombre death toll from the Covid pandemic reached a landmark of 100,000 in January, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, insisted that his Government “did everything we could” to limit the number. Since then, the figure has accelerated on towards more than 125,000, by far the highest rate among major countries. Repeatedly challenged on the excessively high number of fatalities, Johnson has been unable to answer.

Late last month, the Race Disparity Unit published its second report on progress towards addressing Covid-19 health inequalities. It showed that while there had been some improvement for some ethnic groups, the risk of infection and death worsened for Bangladeshis and Pakistanis during the second wave of the pandemic, this time it was the turn of Minister for Equalities, Kemi Badenoch, to insist that the Government has “done everything it can to protect everyone in this country.”

The first report in October suggested that evidence indicated there was a range of factors, particularly occupational exposure and comorbidities that affect the whole population, regardless of race. However, Badenoch denied that systematic racism contributed to the gross disparities in Covid outcomes.

Yet in June, Public Health England pointed to the possibility of racism and discrimination experienced by communities and more specifically by BAME key workers, as a root cause of health inequalities.

Like with the rest of their failed policies, the Government is pinning its hopes on the roll-out of the vaccine programme as its saviour. Johnson has failed in reaching out to the BAME communities for vaccination, as he had controlling their infection rates and in both cases had shifted his failure on them. Now, the Government is trying to show their “concern” for the minority communities by taking out videos to encourage vaccination.

The issue is not that ethnic communities, especially Muslims, do not want the vaccination, the reason is that the Government has failed to reach out to them. Most of the vaccine hubs are far from where they live and are unable to travel for vaccination.

When vaccine hubs open up near them, like in the case of the Hikmah Centre in Batley, West Yorkshire, they happily go to get their vaccine. In addition, Muslims trust the people who run these hubs. They have very little trust with the establishment as the Government and many politicians use Islamophobic language.

We have also seen when vaccines are dished out, ethnic minorities and Muslims are not a priority. One can see from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s priority list of who should get the vaccination first. There is no mention of ethnic minorities or Muslims despite that they are at a higher risk of Covid-19 infection, hospitalisation and deaths.

 

[Image credit: Pixabay/Torstensimon]

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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