Tag Archives: BAME covid deaths

Covid racism: Being poor or Black means no vaccine

Covid racism by the authorities means there is a huge disparity in getting the vaccine if you are from a poor, Black or Asian background.

On 20 February the Financial Times published an article entitled Racial Inequality Plagues US Vaccine Rollout.

Change US to UK and the headline would fit for the UK too.

The FT article contains some striking graphic representations of that disparity, with contrasting maps of the major cities showing the incidence of deaths and infections (blue) and the incidence of vaccine administration (green).

Being poor or black means no vaccine for you

The shocking truth that it is black and poor people doing most of the dying but rich white people getting the best vaccine coverage. BAME and frontliners are in the Covid firing line but seemingly at the back of the queue for the vaccine.

To repeat, what is true for the US is also true for the UK, but try as we might we cannot find similar maps of the UK, presumably because our millionaire owned press does not think it worthy of investigation.

And vaccine hesitancy among African Americans does not explain the gross disparity. Although that metric is higher among the demographic because of the history and current practice of racism in the delivery of US healthcare, it is the weakest factor explaining the low take up.

Instead, the way in which the vaccine rollout has been executed is the problem. Although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended ‘priority groups’ get the vaccine first, this has been ignored by the individual states administering the rollout.

Vaccine hesitancy doesn’t explain rollout disparity

Most states have opted for an online first-come-first-served approach, which skews heavily in favour of the rich and well-heeled populations that have the time to sit in front of a computer refreshing the appointments site all day (or can hire someone to do that for them), or who don’t work all-hours and therefore don’t have the time to allocate for the necessary screen time.

And then there are the people who don’t have good internet access, which will tend to be the poorest communities. Then there is the already existing biases in healthcare delivery that skew to the richest in society.

Also, governments on both sides of the Atlantic are doing little if anything to counter vaccine hesitancy, with targeted outreach campaigns delivered by institutions and individuals trusted by the communities affected.

Short-sighted ruling class policy means a Covid pandemic without end

What is going on inside the rich countries is a reflection of what is going on at a global level, where the rich countries look after themselves but leave the middle income and poorest countries to fend for themselves. If it wasn’t for the Chinese and the Russians there would be no vaccine delivery in Latin America and Africa, for example.

But the short-sightedness of the rich white ruling-class elite means that the pandemic will never end because it will continue to circulate and mutate.

All graphics courtesy Financial Times.

BAME and frontliners not on Covid vaccine priority list

Despite the well-documented fact that those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are twice as likely to die from Covid, that’s not enough to warrant inclusion on the priority list for the rollout of Covid vaccinations.

Just two weeks ago the inquiry into the disproportionate deaths among BAME communities led by Baroness Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen who was murdered in a notorious racist attack, found that “systematic racism” was at the root of the problem.

Working-class people in general, and those from BAME backgrounds in particular, are dying in larger proportions because of the jobs they do, not the genes they have.

This is because working-class people are much more likely to be in jobs where they can’t work from home, and this applies doubly so to those from Black and Asian backgrounds.

Health inequalities key to understanding higher death rates among those from BAME and working-class backgrounds

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said yesterday that it was “really, really important” to take into account disparities between ethnic groups and the related health inequalities.

It should be added that the disparities between social groups, namely those doing the frontline jobs from all ethnic backgrounds, should be at the front of the queue for a Covid vaccine.

“We know that there has been a disproportionate representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups for severe Covid disease, and the underlying factors behind that association are complex, and they are multiple,” said Lim.

But the government is ignoring the scientists, as usual.

The first doctors to die from Covid in the UK were all from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds

Researchers at the universities of Leicester and Nottingham have found that Asian people are the most likely to have the worst outcomes (a euphemism for being most likely to die) from Covid and this was because of social conditions not genetics. 

Dr Shirley Sze from the University of Leicester who led the study said: “The clear evidence of increased risk of infection amongst ethnic minority groups is of urgent public health importance.

“We must work to minimise exposure to the virus in these at-risk groups by facilitating their timely access to healthcare resources and target the social and structural disparities that contribute to health inequalities.”

– Dr Shirley Sze

And even where a middle-class demographic is concerned, such as doctors from BAME backgrounds in the NHS (see picture above), the impact of institutional racism rears its head: non-white doctors are far more likely to be working on the Covid wards (as our BAME nurses) and much less likely to be the senior consultants who are most distanced from the frontline.

But despite all of this evidence, and the mounting death toll which is now the highest in Europe, the government has so far refused to make those from Black and Asian communities – or the poorest in the northern cities for that matter where the incidence of poverty and other markers such as overcrowding and poor diet are more prevalent – a priority for the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine.

Since this video was made, Hesketh Benoit can count 37 people he personally knows who have died from Covid, as reported in the Huffington Post