Covid is killing our BAME communities disproportionately.
Updated: Nov 18, 2021
The Writer of this Article
I have had my 2 Covid jabs without any side-effects so let us be real by helping ourselves, and our communities by getting vaccinated.
I have been in the NHS for 50 years and have never come across anything that has singled out the BAME Community, as a major target in such a short time. The Covid death rate for black African men was 62 per 100,000 compared with 12 per 100,000 for white men in the first wave. The rate for Bangladeshi men was 61 per 100,000. Other Asian groups are not far behind. This means that Covid affects us BAME communities six times more, and therefore our death rate is disproportionately higher. We have witnessed many deaths amongst our communities, and people unfortunately dying without loved ones around.
The increased incidence of Covid in the BAME communities may be as a result of a genetic susceptibility but science tells us that it is people with diabetes, obesity, smokers, underlying medical conditions and low Vitamin D levels that are more susceptible. We, as a BAME community, are more overweight and have a more sedentary lifestyle and diabetes, compared to others.
What is so great about our culture, also puts us at severe risk – that is mixing regularly with families and also in religious institutions - the very situations where this virus spreads. Many of us are also in the front line of services where we get hit first. However, whilst the government tries to address this, we must play our full part as British Muslims.
Now there is light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine, but there is a lot of misinformation spread by those who do not have a medical background and hide behind religion - this istotally unacceptable and will result in unnecessary loss of life. It is this scaremongering that has led to bereaved relatives revealing that they were misguided by ‘fake’ claims. There are no prohibited products such as pork or alcohol in these vaccines. As a doctor and a specialist in this country over many years, I can tell you that that this vaccine is as safe any other -it is just that we have had to manufacture it as quickly as we could, to save mankind. Even if you have the vaccine the basic message of staying alert, washing hands, staying 2 m from people and wearing masks remains.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) hasalso raised concerns after research showed that up to 72% of BAME people said they were unlikely or very unlikely to have the jab. Any vaccine, even flu, will have a possibility of side effects, such as fever, headache and muscle aches but these are rare and the symptoms are mild and often disappear in 48 hours. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. Serious side effects have only been noted in less than 0.5%.
This country has accepted us over the years, and many of us are the third generation here in the UK. We are very much part of the British fabric and must play our full role in ensuring that everyone is safe. In fact, no one will be safe until everyone in the world has had a vaccine. Let us not get into a situation where we will be blamed by non BAME communities for spreading the virus. This will cause further disruption, mistrust and community rife that we can ill afford. Above all many will die un-necessarily. So, let us all get the vaccine and play our part in saving humanity. Remember, even after the vaccination, you must continue to socially distance, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. This is because it takes many days for the vaccine to protects you, and we don’t know if, when you are protected, whether you can pass on the infection.
Professor A R Gatrad OBE DL PhD DSc FRCP FRCPCH Professor of Paediatrics and Child health Universities of Kentucky (USA), Wolverhampton and Lahore Consultant Paediatrician Manor Hospital Walsall