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