Last week marked a grim milestone: more than 100,000 people have now died in the UK from coronavirus, 12,600 here in London – a national tragedy.
These are not just statistics; they represent the deaths of loved ones and behind every death is a grieving family.
The UK now has one of the highest death rates in the world with London in a state of emergency and hospitals overwhelmed.
The vaccine roll-out is offering the only glimmer of hope By mid-January, 70 people were receiving the vaccine every 30 seconds across the UK. But at the same time, someone was being admitted to hospital with coronavirus every 30 seconds.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued advice on the nine priority groups with the most vulnerable groups first in line: those over 70, those in care homes, the clinically extremely vulnerable and frontline health and social care workers.
Local communities, GPs and pharmacies are working hard to deliver the vaccination programme with staff and volunteers doing a fantastic job.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with GPs and volunteers at Battersea’s Primary Care Network. Despite the national roll-out of the vaccine, supplies across London have been inconsistent.
Last month I was shocked to hear Battersea’s brilliant centre had run out of vaccine supplies and wouldn’t receive any more for another seven days.
This was 1,200 missing vaccines and 1,200 vulnerable people in Battersea missing out on their first dose as the vaccine centre sat empty for a week. London has been left out in the cold with 65 per cent of people over 80 receiving their first dose compared with 80 per cent in the Midlands.
This is yet another example of incompetence on the part of this Government. From lost records to slow lockdowns, to delayed vaccine deliveries and a failing test and trace system, there have been monumental mistakes made during this pandemic and lives have been lost as a consequence. Covid-19 has had an especially devastating impact on the lives of black, Asian and ethnic minorities.
That’s why I have been particularly concerned by reports that there is some hesitancy about taking the vaccine within these communities.
There are many legitimate reasons for such hesitancy, from historical experimentation on black people to the ongoing mistrust and racism across society.
It’s for this reason that last I week I came together with British black MPs from Labour and Conservative parties in a united front, to send a message to people from the Black community.
As MPs representing different parties we don’t agree on much, but we do agree that everyone should do their bit to bring an end to this deadly virus that has turned our lives upside down.
That is why it is vital that the Government does all it can to ensure no community is left behind.
I have called on the Government to record and publish regular ethnicity data showing the progress of the vaccine roll-out and, to produce a comprehensive engagement strategy which reaches every community and addresses the impacts of structural racism
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