Couple left seriously ill with Covid urge people from BAME groups to get vaccinated

  • Video report by Hannah McNulty

A couple left seriously ill with Covid-19 have issued a plea for people from black and minority ethnic groups to take the vaccine - saying it will save lives.

Black and asian people are more likely to die from coronavirus, but some are hesitant about having the vaccine. There is low take up of the jab in some communities partly due to misinformation and myths circulating on social media.

Shop owner Abdul Ghafoor from Carlisle became seriously ill after testing positive for coronavirus. He was hospitalised twice. His wife, Saj, who had already come down with the virus previously, worried he would not survive.

Speaking to ITV Border, Saj said: "The doctor listened to him breathing and said he needs to go into hospital - and he wouldn't go. I think he thought his time has come and if he goes into hospital he won't come out." 

Abdul has now returned to work after weeks of recovery. He said: "I'm OK now. It's a really dramatic experience, I wouldn't wish anyone to go through it. It's so painful and stressful. It's like some squeezing all the juice out of you and to get me here has taken about ten weeks." 

A recent survey of GPs showed only 33% of those of mixed ethnicity, 47% of asian people, and 64% of black people are likely to receive the jab. That's compared to more than 90% of white people

A new advert featuring high profile figures aims to dispel some of the myths, but the lack of uptake has left some doctors concerned.

ITV Border's GP Ajay Bedi said: "This vaccine is one of our routes out of this pandemic. One of the things that I've been doing is speaking with people who have, for whatever reason, declined the vaccine. I am very worried that there are some deep-seeded misapprehensions out there."

The couple want to do their part in helping life to return to normal. Saj said: "The last thing you want to do is feel guilty about passing this virus onto someone you care about and the best option we have is the vaccine - so we beg everyone to take that vaccine." 

Figures out today (Monday 22 February) show the vaccine programme has been linked to a huge reduction in hospital admissions in Scotland.

Scientists studying the impact of the jabs found the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines were shown to reduce the risk of admission by up to 85% and 94% respectively.