Indian variant may impact minority and deprived communities hardest in the UK: GlobalData

Following the news that cases of the Indian variant in the UK has tripled in one week during the same period lockdown rules are due to be relaxed; Emily Martyn, Infectious Disease Analyst at GlobalData, offers her view:

“The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s confirmation that the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown is on track will be of enormous relief to both individuals and markets. However, GlobalData believes the act of easing lockdowns may lead to a surge of Indian variant infections in the UK, with those from minority groups and deprived areas to be the hardest hit.

“Outside of India, the UK has reported the highest number of Indian-variant COVID-19 cases. In just one week, cases tripled from 520 to 1,723, the majority appearing in localized areas such as Bolton and Luton and mainly associated with people connected to travelers to and from India.

“However, scientists’ main concern is vaccine hesitancy among ethnic groups and deprived communities, who are more likely to die from COVID-19 than their white counterparts. Vaccine hesitancy for these groups stems from experiencing a greater number of negative encounters with the healthcare system. A recent UK poll conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health has shown that 57% of respondents from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds would accept the vaccine compared to 79% of White respondents. The reasons behind vaccine hesitancy for ethnic minority groups point to factors such as low confidence in the vaccine, distrust, access barriers, inconvenience, socio-demographics and lack of communication from trusted providers. These social factors, combined with the increased susceptibility of these communities, create an environment which GlobalData considers could be a crisis waiting to happen.

“The UK needs to not only prioritise vaccine access to vulnerable communities, but also actively engage to build up trust and confidence in health systems. Public Health England and the BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul demanded the government address the effect of COVID-19 on BAME communities back in June 2020. Now is the time for the UK Government and health services to step up and provide the help and support they desperately needed over a year ago, to prevent yet another wave of illness and death that has already hit these communities the hardest.”

Ralph Hollister, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, states: “Arrivals from India to the UK increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.6% between 2016 and 2019, with visitor numbers reaching 692,000 by the end of this period. This rapid growth rate illustrates the steep increase in demand from the Indian source market for flights to the UK, especially for visiting friends and relatives (VFR) purposes.”

COVID-19GlobalDataIndian variantinfectious diseasethe UK
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