The capital’s public health director was forced to refute black Londoners’ suspicions of being prioritized for the Covid surge – after generations of being “last in line”.
This came after Professor Kevin Fenton was told that higher rates of vaccine reluctance among Blacks and Asians were due to a historical lack of “trust” in the authorities.
There was a heated exchange last night during a Westminster Council webinar examining the reasons for the poor acceptance of the sting in the capital’s black and Asian communities. This issue, which Council President Rachael Robathan said, “is really our business”.
Eddie Nestor, a radio host on BBC London, referred to blacks’ “suspiciousness” when asked to sign up for the vaccine, saying, “They tell me they never come first. Why are they put first now? “
Professor Fenton said, “The government understood that the strategy was according to age. Age is the strongest determinant of illness or death from the disease. In terms of whether black people come first, age is prioritized first. Black people are not prioritized per se. “
Concerns have also been raised about the speed of vaccine development. Professor Fenton said research by Oxford University and others “has been sped up because of the scale of the pandemic” and insisted “no corners have been cut.”
He said “14,500 Londoners” have died since the pandemic started – a reference of 14,539 deaths in the capital where Covid is listed on the death certificate, not the lower number of deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test, which took place last night at 13,759.
Professor Fenton said, “The reality is that the risk of getting infected with Covid is far higher than any risk you have as a side effect of the vaccine.”
Dr. Sheila Neogi, a general practitioner in Pimlico, said elderly patients had been lining up at her practice since the first days of the rollout, but black patients had only recently started calling. “I don’t understand why people are so scared,” she said. “I remember the first patient I lost to Covid. She came from ethnic minorities. She was 54 years old. I was gutted. She was called ahead of her time. “
When asked how she convinced reluctant patients to get the sting, Dr. Neogi: “Think of this as ‘instructions for use’ so that your body is able to fight the disease. That’s all it is It is not a drug. It won’t change you ”
Mayor Sadiq Khan, who today visited the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Kingsbury, the first Hindu temple in Europe to be used as a vaccination center, said: “My message to Londoners who are reluctant to get a Covid-19 vaccine is : is sure it has been thoroughly tested to meet the highest standards, it works and will save lives. “