Tag Archives: Covid-19

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.

Police fine BLM activists fighting for justice for Mohamud Hassan

Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist Bianca Ali has been fined £1,000 for being part of protests against the death of Mohamud Hassan, who died after detention by South Wales Police. Daily protests have taken place since the alleged beating of Mohamud by police last Friday (8 January).

He was released on Saturday morning (a week ago) and died later at home. He was covered in wounds and bruises family and friends say after he was beaten by police. His death has been met by spontaneous protests to demand justice.

The police who claim no excessive force was used against Mohamud in the police station, have refused to release any video footage from inside the station. The CCTV and body cam footage his reported to have been released to the IOPC investigators.

Bianca is not taking the state repression lying down: “They will never keep me quiet, I will always speak out against injustice.” 

A gofundme page has been set up for Bianca to pay the fine. The response has been magnificent – £1,590 has been raised already.

At the time of writing £48,862 for the Justice4Mohamud campaign and all monies for Bianca’s fine above the £1,000 required will be sent to the campaign to get justice for Mohamud.

Please join BLMM in donating to the campaign – donate here

Protest outside Butetown police station, Cardiff

The protests outside the Butetown police station were not organised by BLM Cardiff, despite what the police claim.

BLM Cardiff said: “The police took two riot vans to Bianca’s house and were banging repeatedly on her door. Please tell us why, other than disgusting intimidation tactics, that was needed?”

“As we said before, we did not organise these protests – if anyone organised these protests, it’s the South Wales Police [because of their brutal racist violence]. “What did they expect people to do?”.

“The movement cannot be stopped.” 

The Justice4Mohamud campaign is going from strength to strength. A solidarity protest was held in London which was also met with police repression and arrests.

I supposedly independent investigation is being conducted by the Independent Office Of Police Conduct, with south wales police describing Mahmoud’s death as “a tragedy”.

But South Wales police have a long history of racist policing which stretches back to the infamous Cardiff Three – in which three black men were framed for the murder of Lynette White, one of the most blatant miscarriages of justice ever seen in Wales – and beyond.

Protesters demand justice for Mohamud Hassans family
Protesting for Mohamud outside Butetown police station, Cardiff

Sign the petition to demand justice for Mohamud:

Justice for Mohamud Mohammed Hussan

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

Quarter of young black people in London stopped by cops during lockdown

Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee has got hold of damning evidence of the extent of the oppressive nature of the policing of black (and white) youth in the big cities of the UK, especially London.

Lots of anecdotal evidence has been cited about the increase in stops of young people and now we have the proof.

For black youth the level of harassment has gone way off the scale, with a quarter of all the young black people having been stopped during the lockdown.

This comes after the overpolicing of block parties on working class housing estates.

From the Guardian:

Young black men were stopped and searched by police more than 20,000 times in London during the coronavirus lockdown – the equivalent more than a quarter of all black 15- to 24-year-olds in the capital.

More than 80% of the 21,950 searches between March and May resulted in no further action, according to analysis by the office of the home affairs select committee chair, Yvette Cooper.

The figures equate to 30% of all young black males in London, though some individuals may have been searched more than once.

The Met increased its use of stop and search during the lockdown, compared with a year ago. The force carried out 43,000 stops in May, compared to 21,000 a year earlier, and 30,608 in April, up from 20,981.

Katrina Ffrench, chief executive of Stopwatch, a charity that campaigns against the disproportionate use of stop and search, said: “The number is shocking and saddening. How do those young people feel when this is their city, they’re going about their daily business, could be caring for parents, all sorts of reasons as to why they’re out?” more

Parliament Home Affairs Select Committee hears evidence on stop and search. Hearing evidence this week.


Covid victim George Ziwa needs your support for African funeral

My name is Stephen Smith and sadly we lost our best friend Mr George Ziwa who was found totally decomposed in his flat in March.

Because of the Covid restrictions his body has only just been released by the coroner in High Wycombe, so we have only just set up his GoFundMe page so that his family in Uganda can give him the traditional African burial they have requested.

George Ziwa was a well known member of the Buckingham and Aylesbury community, he lived on the streets from 2012 until January 2019 when he moved into his flat.

Although George was responsible for the renovation of the local Red Cross Centre’s garden during 2017-2018 his lifestyle led to serious health complications.

George died on the 1 March 2020 and he was found at his home some weeks later.

I am appealing to everybody to help send George’s body home so his 80 year old mother can put him to rest under traditional African ceremony. 

Please donate generously to the repatriation fund. Thank you:

Go fund Me

More about George

George Ziwa was born on 28th June 1973 in Kampala, Uganda to Mrs Emma Namuli and the late George William Ziwa. He enjoyed a very close and dear relationship with his mother especially as he was her last born child. George went to school in Uganda and Kenya. He studied from S1 to S6 at Namilyango College, Uganda and he was a very active member of the Ngonian and the Namilyango College Old Boys Association (NACOBA). He later went to England where he studied Nursing at Luton and Dunstable Hospital with a specialisation in mental health. Upon qualifying, George worked at the Whiteleaf Mental Health Centre in Aylesbury as a State Registered Nurse. George lived in Buckinghamshire, England until his death.

George was a loving, caring and generous person and he was always eager to help. Whenever he went to Uganda on vacation, he often met the young homeless street-children to whom he bought food and drinks. George always carried his pink Bible which his sister Linda had offered to him and he fondly referred to himself as a soldier of Christ. He was part of the congregation at Buckingham Evangelical Church. In his youth, George had joined the Boys Scouts and he took great joy in all their activities while also treasuring the strong friendships that he built with his fellow scouts.

George passed away suddenly at the beginning of March 2020. He is survived by his two children, his mother and his siblings and he will be sadly missed by his family and numerous friends.

May his soul rest in peace.