The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement may have helped reduce the spread of Covid, scientists advising the government have said.
Experts on the ethnicity subgroup of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said the anti-racist movement “fostered greater empowerment within the Black African and Black Caribbean community and enabled these groups to express their frustrations of many years”.
“This new empowerment may have created a sense of optimism and facilitated open dialogue which increased knowledge and contributed to greater use of cultural, religious and collaborative approaches to reducing risk and transmission of Covid-19 in Black communities in the UK,” the scientists said.
“Strategies include sharing videos of elders having the vaccine and hosting a Covid-19 vaccine event to address misinformation stemming from historic issues of unethical scientific research and religious beliefs.”
Ethnic minorities have been disproportionately impacted by Covid, suffering higher death rates than the white population.
In the paper prepared on March 26 and made public on Friday, the scientists warned Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups “have not reported similar feelings of empowerment”.
“Establishing and/or rebuilding trust may take longer, particularly for Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups in the absence of a national movement such as BLM,” it states.
The experts also said the failures in public health messaging during the first wave of Covid due to “inaccessible language, modes of delivery and mistrust towards formal organisations” meant Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups “feel more wary or sceptical” of current government communication.
The BLM movement, which began in the US in 2013, had a global resurgence in 2020 following the killing George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Senior UK government ministers have criticised the BLM movement in the UK, including foreign secretary Dominic Raab who revealed he incorrectly thought the gesture of taking a knee was inspired by Game of Thrones.