The Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England voiced serious "concerns" on Wednesday that more people from BAME communities in the UK will reject the coronavirus vaccine due to widespread distrust of the jab.
While speaking to the BBC, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that "the uptake in minority ethnic groups is not going to be as rapid or as high" when compared to Britain's white population.
He clarified that vaccine administration has been very high among people who have been offered the jab so far but said he's worried about the power of fake news.
"We are always concerned when we get misinformation and things that are patently wrong and misleading and designed to frighten people and damage their confidence in what we are doing – which I believe in absolutely passionately."
Referring to unsubstantiated theories that the vaccine increases infertility, Professor Van Tam said he's unaware of any vaccine affecting fertility and called the narrative a "nasty, pernicious scare story, but that's all it is."
He continued, saying he believes "the vast majority of people in the UK would prefer to take their advice on vaccines from trusted sources rather than from some of the nonsense that is circulated on social media."
Great to have 18 year old Zeshan who is our young persons representative from our board of directors on #BBC News discussing #Covid with Professor Jonathan Van Tam (England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer).— Youth On Solid Ground (@YOSG_UK) February 10, 2021
Thank you Zeshan for speaking on behalf of all young people. pic.twitter.com/KZ8deH2bDx
This comes amid research that suggests ethnic minority communities in the UK are less eager to take the vaccine than their white counterparts.
According to polling by the Royal Society for Public Health, 76 percent of the British public would take a COVID-19 vaccine if advised by their GP or health professional, and just 8 percent say they would be unlikely.
However, the findings showed that just 57 percent of respondents from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds polled would accept the inoculation, compared with 79 percent of White respondents.
Confidence was found to be lowest among those of Asian ethnicity who were surveyed, with only 55 percent likely to say yes.
This could be especially concerning for the UK as the coronavirus pandemic has had a worse impact on ethnic minority communities proportionally compared to white communities.
According to figures by the Office for National Statistics, Black African men were hit highest by Covid death rates of any ethnicity, followed by Bangladeshi men, Black Caribbean men, and those of Pakistani origin.
As of Monday, more than 12 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, which requires two jabs for maximum protection.