Coronavirus could become a disease that haunts poorer parts of society, a government scientific advisor has said.
Dr Mike Tildesley, reader in mathematical modelling of infectious diseases at the University of Warwick and member of the Government advisory group SPI-M, said that he was “concerned” that the virus might persist particular parts of the country.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether Covid-19 could remain a “disease of the deprived”, he said: “This is a real concern actually for me and I know a number of other scientists have raised this, that we may end up in a situation where we have the ‘vaccine rich’ and as it were, who are able to access the vaccine who have taken up the vaccine and are at much lower risk.
“And the maybe people in society who have not taken up the vaccine and potentially these individuals could be clustered in particular parts of the country, and there is increased risk there.
“So I think it’s something that we do need to do more about to make sure that the vaccine is available to everyone to take up and so that we minimise the risk of the virus persisting in particular parts of the country, and causing much more harm to those communities.”
Analysis of vaccine data by the Independent showed that fewer elderly people had received the first dose of the jab than in more affluent areas by February 7.
Six of the most deprived parts of England were in the bottom ten local areas for vaccine uptake among the over-80s and those aged over 75, Public Health England and local vaccination data shows.
East London, which was badly hit by the virus during the second wave, was the worst performing NHS Region, with just 73 per cent of over-80s vaccinated by 7 February.
Concerns that the coronavirus could disproportionately impact some communities have been present since close to the beginning of the pandemic.
In April the ZOE Symptoms Tracker App found that Covid-19 was more common and more severe in people living in urban areas and regions of higher poverty in the UK.
At the time researcher Dr Cristina Menni from King’s College London said: “This could reflect that individuals in more deprived areas are more exposed or vulnerable to the virus.
“It may be that they work in jobs requiring work out of the home, where they are more likely to be exposed to circulating virus.”
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