Vaccine allows hope ‘things might return in some sense to normal’, says Charles

Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent

The Prince of Wales has said it is a “tragedy” everyone is not benefitting from the Covid vaccine.

He made the comment during an online conference aimed at encouraging take-up among minority communities.

Charles praised the “extraordinary achievements” of the medical experts who have produced the vaccines at short notice and whose efforts “must rank as one of the greatest scientific achievements of our time”.

And in his video message he went on to highlight the vaccine’s benefits, saying the jab would “allow us to start to hope that things might return in some sense to normal”.

He told online delegates: “It is clear that the virus has affected all parts of the country, and all sections of society – but it is also clear that there are particular challenges faced in particular sections of our society, especially in some ethnic minority communities

“What saddens me even further is to hear that those challenges are being made even worse by the variable uptake of the vaccines which finally offer us a way out of the suffering of the past year.”

Charles speaking during his video message for the online event (British Asian Trust/PA)
Charles speaking during his video message for the online event (British Asian Trust/PA)

After praising the “superhuman effort” of the medical experts Charles added: “Therefore, it is surely a tragedy that the benefits of such an extraordinary achievement should not be experienced by everybody.”

Charles went on to say: “The vaccination will save lives, will prevent serious illness, will protect our health service and will allow us to start to hope that things might return in some sense to normal – for every member of our society.”

The comments from the heir to the throne were made at the start of the British Asian Trust’s (BAT) Webinar: Covid-19 Vaccine – Facts For The BAME Community.

Panellists taking part in the online discussion. British Asian Trust
Panellists taking part in the online discussion. British Asian Trust

Charles is the BAT’s royal founding patron and among the panel of speakers was Nadhim Zahawi MP, minister for Covid vaccine deployment, Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director, Public Health England, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The minister told the discussion: “I think the vaccine messaging both the sort of national strategy the regional and the local strategy, which was part of my uptake plan that I launched on the 13th, is beginning to work.”

He said vaccinations were carried out at trusted sites like temples, mosques and cathedrals and information had been translated into around 20 languages like Arabic, Hindu and Polish.

Mr Zahawi said the Government had provided £23 million for a community champion programme “to identify, to work with, and give resources to faith and community leaders”.

He added “…the NHS is now doing a fantastic job of going in at postcode level and looking at uptake and seeing whether…we put in a bus that goes into that community and vaccinates, or in their local place that they are familiar with and trust.”

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and medical director of primary care for NHS England and NHS Improvement, was part of the online discussion and has set out the health service’s “blueprint”, highlighted by Mr Zahawi, to tackle vaccine hesitancy in an opinion piece published by the i newspaper.

Dr Kanani, said in her article: “There is evidence that people from ethnically diverse backgrounds are most likely to be hesitant about getting the vaccine, despite being disproportionately affected by Covid.

“It’s vital that we give these communities the support they need to get the vaccine when invited to do so, building both trust and confidence.”

Questions were taken from the online audience who asked whether the vaccine was safe, if it affected fertility or included animal products and were reassured by Dr Kanani none of their worries were true.

Prof Fenton also highlighted efforts to support those with concerns: “So for many of our communities, certainly in London, we’re doing a lot of outreach and engagement work to make connections where they’re at.”

He added: “I consistently hear people ask about the content of the vaccine, the safety profile, were the vaccines rushed, were any people of colour in the trials which were done?

“For all of those questions we have the answers and we can show the data. And that goes a long way to restore trust.”

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