Romesh Ranganathan, Beverley Knight and Denise Lewis want you to have the coronavirus vaccine.
The celebs appear in a new star-studded advert urging people from ethnic minority communities to take up the vaccine when they’re invited. The ad has been organised by actor and writer Adil Ray, best known for BBC One comedy Citizen Khan.
Research shows hesitancy in getting the vaccine is “disproportionately high” among Black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups. Data also suggests people from Black and south Asian backgrounds are more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people.
The ad – which features the likes of Meera Syal, Moeen Ali and David Olusoga, too – will air at 9.56pm on Thursday evening.
It’ll be screened across several networks, including ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, as well as multiple Sky TV channels. The makers expect it to reach an audience of around 10 million people.
“We are in unprecedented times and the fact remains that this pandemic disproportionately affects people from ethnic minority communities,” said Ray.
“It’s heartening to see the major broadcasters come together in an equally unprecedented television broadcast at this crucial time, an indication of how serious this situation is. We must all engage and encourage one another to do the right thing. The message is simple: take the vaccine, save lives.”
Medics have highlighted how structural inequalities within Britain’s healthcare system and racist historical medical practices have caused widespread distrust among minority groups, who have suffered poorer health outcomes throughout their lives.
Ivo Vlaev, professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School and a member of the NHS Covid Behaviour Change Unit, said “fake news” is largely to blame for vaccine hesitancy. “Fake news and conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 vaccine seem to spread almost as fast as the virus itself,” he said.
“They range from the utterly outlandish, such as the vaccine containing a microchip allowing Bill Gates to track peoples movements, to claims it contains pork, which could cause even more harm among BAME group.”
Prof Vlaev said in addition to this, the government is “battling concerns around safety and critics arguing regulators approved the Pfizer vaccine too quickly”.
A key consideration when tackling vaccine take-up is where positive messages come from, he added.
“We know we trust messages more when the person delivering them is like us or we perceive them to be a figure of authority,” he said. “Therefore faith groups and charities that have the trust of the community have an important role to play. Trusted celebrities can also be more persuasive.”