Asian Voice appeared on 10 Downing Street daily Covid-19 press briefing on Sunday. With Zoom crashing worldwide on 17 May, this Q&A was done through slides.
At the press conference, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said how UK’s top researchers rapidly working to find a coronavirus vaccine will benefit from £84 million of new government funding.
The funding comes as Oxford University agreed a global licensing agreement with AstraZeneca, the UK-based pharmaceutical company, for the commercialisation and manufacturing of their potential vaccine. This means that, if the Oxford vaccine is successful, AstraZeneca will work to make up to 30 million doses available by September for people in the UK, as part of an agreement to deliver 100 million doses in total.
While contact tracing and vaccination go hand in hand, children in England may return to school before the government’s coronavirus contact tracing app is rolled out across the country, the work and pensions secretary, Thérèse Coffey, has confirmed. When Rupanjana Dutta from Asian Voice asked about what the UK government is doing to recruit contact tracers from the BAME community, to beat cultural and language barriers, Alok Sharma said, “We have got over 17,000 contact tracers, we are very much on target. This is also a matter of making sure, people across all communities, are able to come forward this vital task. One of the big concerns in the BAME community has been disproportionately impacted by the virus, there is work and studies that are ongoing.”
Dr Steve Powis, Medical Director for NHS England said, “It is important that contact tracing is available to all and we pay particular emphasis to those communities that not particularly and always engage in track and trace and we have representational recruitment so that we can effectively work with all those communities.”
He also spoke about the risk factors in the BAME community and how NHS is ensuring to keep them safe. “With NHS where we have a large proportion of BAME staff, it is really important that we are able to look after that staff, we reassure them and risk assess them individually and we ensure we put measures required to keep them safe,” Dr Powis added.