Doctors urge the government to give priority to BAME people for Covid-19 jab


Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

PEOPLE from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups in the UK should be included in the second phase of the priority vaccine distribution, at the same time as white adults in at-risk health groups, doctors’ groups urged.

The coalition of ethnic minority healthcare groups has written a letter to health secretary Matt Hancock and vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi explaining that these groups were at higher risk of infection and death from Covid-19, reported The Times.

The letter said that the government’s decision to conduct distribution according to age overlooked ethnicity ‘as an important risk factor’, especially when combined with other factors including occupation and social deprivation.

According to the report, healthcare professionals called for government officials to collect weekly data on vaccine take-up by ethnicity, and to fund community and faith groups to carry out local public health campaigns.

The letter is signed by about 40 groups including the British Islamic Medical Association, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and groups representing healthcare workers from Ghana, Zimbabwe and the Philippines among other countries.

A document released by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies last month said vaccine hesitancy was highest in black ethnic groups, with 72 per cent stating they were unlikely or very unlikely to get the jab.

Adults in minority ethnic groups are less likely to receive vaccines than those in white groups by between 10 and 20 per cent.

A cross-party group of MPs has issued a video to encourage more people from minority backgrounds to get vaccinated.

In December family doctors questioned the decision not to give ethnic minorities priority for a vaccine. Professor Martin Marshall, who leads the Royal College of GPs, in a letter to Hancock  asked for “clarification of the rationale for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities not being included”.

Analysis from various studies of the effect of ethnicity on clinical outcomes in patients with Covid-19 published by The Lancet in November found people of black ethnicity were twice as likely and Asians were 1.5 times as likely to be infected compared with white people.

According to the Times, the proportion of the population to receive their first dose is-white Irish (10.6 per cent), other (10.4 per cent), British (9.8 per cent), mixed other (6.4 per cent), white and black African (3.9 per cent), white and Asian (3 per cent), white and black Caribbean (1.7 per cent), Asian or Asian British Indian(10.4 per cent), other (8.4 per cent), Pakistani (4.2 per cent), Bangladeshi (3.1 per cent), black or black British other (5 per cent), Caribbean 4.8 per cent), African (4.4 per  cent), other ethnic groups (11.2 per cent).

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