According to a poll conducted by Queen Mary University of London, only 39% of ethnic minority Londoners said they were likely to have the vaccine, a shockingly low percentage considering how disproportionately the BAME community has been affected.

Within the BAME community, South Asians have been identified as being a group particularly targeted by fake news; what arguably plays a large part in making this community so susceptible to believing what they see, according to Dr Harpreet Soot (who is leading an NHS anti-disinformation drive), are ‘language and cultural barriers.’

Disinformation designed to harness people’s religious beliefs and use them to prevent vaccine uptake has been particularly effective, and therefore incredibly problematic. For instance, both Hindus and Muslims, many of whom identify as being part of the South Asian community, have been the victims of an onslaught of fake news spread via platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook about the contents of the vaccine. These messages falsely claim that the vaccines contain animal produce, such as beef (thus targeting practising Hindus, to whom the cow is sacred) and pork (the consumption of pork goes against Islamic laws).

Religious leaders have been called upon to reassure their congregations that the vaccine is harmless and that as many members of the community as possible ought to take it if they are offered one. Local Granthis, Pujaris and Imams often share videos of them receiving the vaccine to dispel hesitations about how religiously permissible the vaccines are.

Meanwhile, famous BAME celebrities have come together to address vaccine misinformation in their  communities, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan saying that ‘today… doctors and scientists have found us a way forward: a Covid vaccine that is safe and will help save lives.’

We can only hope that the message is taken on board, especially at such a critical turning point in the direction of this pandemic.

Link to the video released by BAME celebrities urging people to take the vaccine: