Progressives slam Tory government over disparities in COVID-19 relief 

Research conducted by the Labour Party shows that richer areas in the UK are seeing bigger falls in COVID-19 infection rates following vaccine distribution compared to poorer, working-class areas

February 09, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
COVID-19 vaccination in UK
(Photo: Morning Star)

Findings by the UK Labour Party reveal that even after the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 began, stark disparities exist in the fall of infection rates between wealthier and poorer regions across the country. The figures compiled from official statistics were revealed by the Labour Party on February 7, Sunday. The party has called for redistributing vaccines to bridge the “COVID care” divide in the country.

Citing the Labour Party research, Morning Star reported that richer areas in the country are seeing bigger falls in COVID-19 infection rates following vaccine distribution compared to poorer, working-class areas. The trend has been verified in the report for the last three weeks of January in three mainly working class areas: Preston in Lancashire, Bradford West in West Yorkshire, and Rotherham in South Yorkshire, where the decline rates are 9%, 14% and 18%, respectively. Whereas, the decline was far steeper in better-off areas like Oxford West and Abingdon constituency (72%), Saffron Walden in Essex (72%) and Surrey Heath (70%).

Labour Party’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth stated that such disparities in COVID-19 relief show the lack of financial support for low-income families who could not afford to self-isolate. “Without decent financial help, transmission chains won’t be broken in these areas. People will remain at risk of illness while Boris Johnson’s promise to ‘level up’ lies in tatters,” he said.

Johnnie Hunter, general secretary of the Young Communist League (YCL) of Britain, told Peoples Dispatch, “while we applaud the heroic contributions of healthcare workers, scientists, volunteers and many others working behind the scenes, it is sad that the UK government’s current rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has suffered from the same incompetence and corruption that has characterized their entire response to this pandemic.” 

“Britain’s communists demand state control and nationalization of the pharmaceutical industry with strategic planning for the common good. We also demand that the government negotiate and work with, not against, trade unions to ensure the efficient and rapid progress of the vaccination program, as well as protect jobs, education and livelihoods.”

Hunter demanded the immediate release of funds to help the millions living in poverty amid the pandemic. “We’re fighting for a genuine post-COVID recovery plan that puts young people back into work and education – rather than forcing them to pay the ruling class bill for carelessness and mismanagement during the pandemic,” he added.

As of February 8, around 3,945,680 cases have been reported in the UK with 112,465 deaths. Around 12,014,288 people had received the first dose of vaccination by February 8, and 511,447 people had received the second dose as well. So far, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorized the Pfizer–BioNTech, Oxford–AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines. Strict lockdown measures are also in place across the country which are likely to continue till the end of February.