Covid-19 Update Ministerial Statement (18 May 2021)
My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for his repeat of the Statement. It is indeed welcome news for people and the economy that we are able to move to step 3 in our road map. However, as the Health Secretary said,
“we must be humble in the face of this virus.”—
While the UK has had the highest vaccination enthusiasm in the world, does the Minister agree that it is deeply worrying that many people eligible for a vaccine, particularly among vulnerable age groups, have still not had one? This was seen in Bolton, where the majority of the 19 patients admitted to hospital with the new Indian variant, especially people from ethnic-minority communities, have not had a vaccine. What further support can the Government give to promote the better uptake of vaccines among ethnic minorities?
My Lords, my noble friend refers to humility and he is right: we have all had to develop a stronger sense of humility in the face of this awful virus and this dreadful pandemic. It has taught us that, despite all our 21st-century healthcare systems, we are all vulnerable to its awful effects. His words are absolutely spot on. I repeat the statistic that 69.4% of Toggle showing location of adults across the UK have had the vaccine, because the overall story of the vaccine rollout has been one of incredible participation by the British public. Not only have I never been involved in anything quite so successful in my life but there are very few national projects anywhere in the world that have been as successful. I really applaud all communities in every part of Britain for the way in which they have stepped up to the vaccine. My noble friend is right that there are some communities in which those levels are not as high as they should be. That has led to higher transmission among younger people, and in a few cases that has led to severe disease among older people who, frankly, should have taken their vaccine. I urge everyone to step up to their opportunity.