The lack of data taken around ethnic minorities in Britain during the pandemic could be putting lives at risk, health experts have warned.
Research has shown a disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minority communities, but some leading medics fear not enough information is being gathered by the NHS and other public bodies to fully understand the risks to specific groups.
Salman Waqar, from the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA), said research funded so far “barely scratched the surface when it comes to ethnic inequality”.
Dr Waqar said he felt an opportunity had been missed to ensure measures to better record and collect data were in place ahead of the second wave of coronavirus this winter. He said: “What more is necessary to make us realise we need to be monitoring these disparities closely?
“We need clear leadership from NHS bodies on actions that will protect minority communities. Without real-time transparent data, how will we know if they are performing the task?”
Approximately 12% of the British adult population is from an ethnic minority background, but these communities have experienced higher rates of infection and mortality during the pandemic.
A report from the Commons Women and Equalities Committee found pre-existing inequalities created a “perfect storm” of factors which exacerbated the impact on BAME communities.
However, committee chair Caroline Nokes also criticised the government for failing to show a “sustained effort to capture a full picture” of the issue, and a “resistance to deploy resources for data collection”.
GP Dr Raj Kumar said the lack of available data was “dangerous”.
“We don’t use the word dangerous lightly, but we are dealing with lives,” he told the PA news agency.
The Philippines is evaluating the emergency use of Pfizer Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine, the presidential spokesman said on Saturday.
Pfizer was the first company to seek the country’s regulator’s approval for emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine, Harry Roque, spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte, said in a statement.
It will take the food and drugs agency 21 days to evaluate and approve the vaccine, he said, adding that inoculation would start as soon as stocks become available. The Philippines has the second-highest number of Covid-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.
While tier 4 or similar restrictions mean shops in many city centres around the UK have been closed for the first time in decades on Boxing Day, shoppers in lower-tier zones began queueing for bargains in the early hours of the morning.
Around 200 people had formed a socially distanced queue by 5.50am outside Next in Leicester, which is under tier 3 restrictions.
Boxing Day spending is expected to fall by more than a quarter compared with last year, as part of a downward trend in recent years and due to the impact of coronavirus restrictions.
Four cases of a coronavirus variant believed to be particularly infectious that recently emerged in Britain have been confirmed in the Spanish city of Madrid, the regional government said Saturday, the first cases detected in the country.
All four cases involved people who recently arrived from the UK, the Madrid regional government’s deputy health chief, Antonio Zapatero, told a news conference.
“The patients are not seriously ill, we know that this strain is more transmissible, but it does not cause more serious illness,” he said.
Mainland China recorded 20 new Covid-19 cases on 25 December, compared with 14 cases the previous day, the country’s health authority said on Saturday.
The National Health Commission said in its daily bulletin that 12 of the new cases were imported. Of the eight locally transmitted cases, six came from the northeastern province of Liaoning and two from the capital Beijing.
The new Beijing cases were from its Shunyi district, which has entered a “wartime state” requiring all residents to undergo testing, the state-owned China Daily reported on Saturday.
The People’s Daily reported five people had tested positive after nucleic acid tests were carried out across Beijing’s districts of Chaoyang, Shunyi and Tianzhu on Saturday.
Additionally, 19 asymptomatic cases were reported on 25 December, up from 17 the previous day. China does not include asymptomatic patients in its total confirmed case list.
The Guardian’s charity appeal this year is for disadvantaged young people in the UK, who are facing tough choices during the coronavirus pandemic. Read my interview with YouTuber Daniel Howell on mental health support and more.
Hungary started vaccinating healthcare workers against the coronavirus with the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday, a government spokesman told Reuters.
Hungary received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines Saturday morning that will be enough to inoculate 4,875 people, state news agency MTI reported.
Spain received its first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Saturday, a day before the country is set to begin its immunisation campaign.
A refrigerated truck arrived at Pfizer’s warehouse in Guadalajara in central Spain with the shipment, three days after it left the company’s factory in Puurs in northeast Belgium, the health ministry said in a statement.
After repackaging, the vaccines will be redistributed to Spain’s 17 autonomous regions so that vaccination can begin across the country as planned on Sunday, it added.
Spain will receive 4.5m Pfizer vaccine doses over the next 12 weeks, enough to vaccinate some 2.3 million people, according to the ministry.
More than 79.59 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,747,803 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
Tokyo reported a record rise in coronavirus cases on Saturday, as Japan experiences a surge that now includes a new, fast-spreading variant while the government urges people to stay home.
Infections of the virus that causes Covid-19 hit a record 949 in the capital just as Japan heads into New Year holidays that normally see people stream from the capital into the provinces. Serious cases were unchanged from a day earlier at 81.
Japan on Friday reported its first cases of a fast-spreading variant in passengers arriving from Britain. The new variant has also been detected in a man who visited that country and a family member – the first cases of infected people found outside airport checks – Nippon TV reported on Saturday.
Tokyo transport hubs were subdued, local media said, a day after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, under pressure as cases continue to climb, urged the nation to stay home and avoid social mixing.
With New Year celebrations centred around family gatherings and mass visits to temples and shrines, experts have warned moderation will be essential to prevent infection rates from rising further amid concerns of pandemic fatigue.
Suga’s initial political honeymoon after taking his post in September has ended, with his popularity sliding after criticism he was slow to react to rising infections in Tokyo and for attending a group steak dinner in defiance of his own calls for restraint.