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It's A National Tragedy: When Covid-19 Puts Our Ethnic Minorities More At Risk, Why IS The Uptake Of The Jab Among BAME Patients So Much Lower, Asks SUE REID

It's a national tragedy: When Covid-19 puts our ethnic minorities more at risk, why IS the uptake of the jab among BAME patients so much lower, asks SUE REID
  • UK study has found that 72 per cent of black people are wary of inoculation 
  • 42 per cent of Asian individuals 'unlikely' or 'very unlikely' to take the vaccine
  • NHS England to give £23m to encourage uptake of jab among high-risk groups 
  • There’s no shortage of customers for Covid-19 vaccinations at Blackburn Cathedral, where, for generations, local folk have sung Christian hymns in their Sunday best.

    Today, the imposing building is open for other business. Instead of saving souls, it is busy helping to save lives. 

    Volunteers hold umbrellas over Lancashire’s elderly, many in wheelchairs or propped up by walking sticks, as they guide them into the crypt for pre-booked appointments to have the Covid-19 vaccine.

    First in the door as the cathedral opened as a jabs’ hub was John Mason, 82, from Bolton. When he emerged 20 minutes later, he said: ‘It was easy-peasy. Nothing to worry about.’

    But that’s not how everyone round here sees it. 

    The vaccinations were first offered to all Lancastrians aged 80 and above living within a 45-minute drive of the cathedral, an area dotted by multicultural former mill towns.

    Yet we found a dramatic mismatch between people turning up and the ethnic make-up of those who live in this part of the North-West.

    A major survey by the UK Household Longitudinal Study has found 42 per cent of Asian or Asian British individuals were ‘unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ to take the coronavirus vaccine. Pictured: Mufti Zubair Butt, a Muslim imam and chaplain, is vaccinated with the Pfizer jab against Covid-19 at Whetley Medical Centre, Bradford

    Over eight hours at the cathedral on the second day of the jabs’ rollout, only five of the 250 people vaccinated were of South Asian heritage, and all were elderly ladies brought by a younger family member. It was a similar sight of predominately white faces the next day.

    All this raises a sensitive question. Why do so few from the local Pakistani and Indian communities want the vaccine when it could save their lives?

    A major survey by the UK Household Longitudinal Study has found 42 per cent of Asian or Asian British individuals were ‘unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ to have it.

    Even more shocking was the fact that 72 per cent of black people (of Caribbean or African heritage) are wary of inoculation.

    Last week, NHS England announced it is to give £23 million to local councils to encourage uptake of the jab among high-risk groups, including the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community.

    Justin Varney, Birmingham’s public health director, warned that 50 per cent of residents in parts of his city with the largest BAME population are reluctant to have the jab.

    Medical workers in Stoke-on-Trent have reported a non-attendance rate of up to 30 per cent among BAME patients invited for vaccination, compared with just 2 to 3 per cent of others in the city.

    The extraordinary level of reluctance among non-white British people not only jeopardises the vaccination programme, but also the lives of those most at risk from the virus. 

    Though they make up 11 per cent of the population, it has hit their communities hardest of all.

    Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that black men are 4.7 times — and black women 4.3 times — more likely to suffer a Covid-related death than white people of the same age.

    Even after adjustments for deprivation, occupational exposure to the disease and other factors, it is a similarly tragic story.

    Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, who was born in Iraq and who revealed yesterday that he had lost his 88-year-old uncle, Faiz Issa, to Covid-19 a fortnight ago, has warned that if BAME people shy away from inoculation, the virus will ‘quickly infect’ their communities and spread to others.

    Yet still countless numbers refuse to have it. Last month, in an unprecedented High Court ruling, a West Indian-born woman who lives in a care home, was ordered to have the jab — to the ‘dismay’ of her family.

    Her son desperately argued in court that his mother — a retired London secretary who is in her 80s and has dementia — should not get the jab because the testing was carried out predominantly on ‘white people’.

    He insisted that doctors, who had brought the case to the Court of Protection (where judges rule on the healthcare of vulnerable adults), should wait to vaccinate his mother until there is more proof of its safety for people like her.

    A video of celebrities of Asian heritage, including TV presenter Konnie Huq (pictured), actress Meera Syal and cricketer Moeen Ali — who recovered from Covid — has been released to take aim at the fake news spreading on social media

    Mistrust of the vaccine has spread among black British NHS nurses and even some doctors. Some of them are refusing to have the jab because they want to ‘watch and wait’ to see if it is safe.

    Others have friends or relatives who have caught Covid since being inoculated (which is, sadly, possible because the jab may take weeks to provoke immunity), and so believe it is ineffective.

    The Mail has been told that at one North London hospital, refusal among BAME nurses is so prevalent, vaccines prepared for the day are having to be thrown away when these frontline staff fail to turn up for their appointments.

    And yet black and Asian NHS staff have accounted for 63 per cent of Covid deaths, despite making up only 21 per cent of the workforce.

    One senior nurse at a London NHS practice told us: ‘Vaccine fear is a huge problem among my black British staff. More than half of my small group of nurses won’t have it, even though they are on the front line of the vaccine roll-out and should be role models to encourage uptake in their communities.

    Star support: Celebrities including Konnie Huq and Meera Syal (pictured) encourage vaccination in Adil Ray’s video

    ‘I feel they have a civic duty to get the jab, as they come face to face with patients. I have heard of an African NHS doctor who is saying no to it, too.’

    Meanwhile, some of the world’s top vaccine experts are also having difficulty persuading their nearest and dearest to have the jab.

    Jamaican-born Herb Sewell, emeritus professor of immunology at Nottingham University, says: ‘Members of my own family — apparently intelligent people — have picked up this anti-vaccine stuff.’

    He has had ‘a word’ with the doubters and hopes he has won them round. But he is not sure all his loved ones have listened.

    Professor Sewell adds that black icons, such as the rapper Stormzy or Manchester United footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford, should become vaccine champions to counter the propaganda, particularly among young people.

    A video of celebrities of Asian heritage, including TV presenter Konnie Huq, actress Meera Syal and cricketer Moeen Ali — who recovered from Covid — has been released to take aim at the fake news spreading on social media.

    The five-minute reel, focusing on the Asian community, was the idea of TV presenter Adil Ray, who says: ‘We felt we needed to do something.’

    So how has the deep mistrust gained a stranglehold?

    Emmanuel Adeseko, 32, a Birmingham pastor, is urging Afro-Caribbean people to be inoculated after revelations that the take-up in parts of his city is touching 50 per cent.

    ‘Some of the real fear is caused by the misinformation on social media — there is so much of it,’ says Mr Adeseko, whose own father, 65-year-old Nathaniel, died from Covid-19 in April. ‘But it’s not just one thing; there are religious beliefs at play and some people have had negative experiences with healthcare in the past.’

    Dr Abdul Zubairu, a GP in Southport, Merseyside, who has had the jab as a frontline health worker, explained in The Voice newspaper — with a mostly Afro-Caribbean readership — that there is a history of medical maltreatment in the black community ‘we cannot ignore’.

    The forced sterilisation of black women in the U.S., a lack of UK research into the blood disorder sickle-cell disease — which affects mainly black people — and shocking statistics showing that black women are five times more likely than those from other races to die in pregnancy and childbirth, have stoked a general mistrust of health authorities.

    Professor Sewell also cites memories of the horrific Tuskegee experiment, a decades-long project to investigate syphilis in the U.S. State of Alabama which began in 1932.

    More than 600 African-American men were experimented on into the 1970s. Some were not treated long after the discovery of penicillin, which could have cured them.

    Twenty-eight died while others went blind or insane. Some wives caught the disease and passed it on to their babies. Little wonder the scandal has not been forgotten.

    Dr Farzana Hussain, an NHS clinical director in Newham, East London, says: ‘I have had several consultations with African patients who are nervous about the speed of the vaccine rollout. They are also worried about claims it can permanently damage their bodies.’

    Meanwhile, in Blackburn, nearly one in five households has little or no English, so the Government’s message to stay at home may not be reaching them.

    In a 2016 Government report by integration tsar Louise Casey, the town was deemed to be among the UK’s most racially segregated.

    It has earned notoriety since for being in the top league for Covid-19 infections.

    We were so concerned about the low numbers of BAME people at the Cathedral the first time we visited, that we returned to check it was not the wet weather that had put them off from coming.

    But of 100 people who receive their vaccination that next afternoon, only 13 are from the Pakistani and Indian communities.

    Iftakhar Hussein, a Blackburn council worker, wheeling in his 85-year-old mother, Gil Begum, explains: ‘There are a lot of myths and conspiracy theories going around about the jabs. But we have to put our trust in them.

    ‘The mosques, Muslim councillors and doctors are all encouraging us to have the vaccine — people should listen.’

    Another of the few South Asian women at the cathedral hub is Nirmala Passi, 86, escorted by her son, Dharum. The family is Hindu and from nearby Preston. Dharum, 62, says: ‘The jab is the best thing for us all. Some of the Muslim community believe it contains alcohol or pork products (forbidden by the Islamic faith). That’s not true, yet the misinformation has taken hold.’

    The Hussein and Passi families are, sadly, a rarity.

    As well as Blackburn, we visit London vaccination hubs to learn the extent of the vaccine-phobia, often fuelled by claims that the jab alters your DNA, gives governments data via a chip to track a person’s movement, or even infects them with the disease itself.

    In Southall, West London, Sam Patel, 42, a finance manager, has brought his aunt. ‘My family have worn masks throughout the pandemic,’ he says. ‘Like many British Indian families, we have lots of relatives in the NHS, so we understand how necessary the vaccine is.’ Sam’s 69-year-old mother has just spent ten days in hospital after catching the virus, her family believes, during a late Christmas shopping visit to a local supermarket.

    ‘Covid-19 is so prevalent in our area of London,’ Sam says.

    A few minutes later, an elderly couple leave the vaccine centre, the lady in an apple-green sari and wearing protective latex gloves.

    She explains that she and her husband are both 85-year-old Muslims from the Bohra community — a sect of Islam that is telling its followers to have the vaccine.

    ‘There are many different Muslim groups,’ says the woman, who decides not to give her name. ‘Not all of them think as we do, and some are afraid of what it will put into them.’

    There are other worries, too. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, leader of the British Medical Association, the doctors’ professional body, says government advice on social distancing, masks and vaccinations must be in multiple languages so everyone can understand.

    Which makes the words of Blackburn fishmonger Zohar Mahaldar so disturbing.

    He survived Covid-19 last year and hails from Bastwell, a suburb with ten mosques, where one in ten people tested positive for the virus last year. It’s a nine-minute drive from the cathedral vaccination hub. Before the latest lockdown, he told The Guardian he could not count how many people he’d had to ‘shoo out’ of his shop for not wearing a mask.

    ‘People here won’t take responsibility for their own health,’ he said. ‘They think it’s Allah’s will, that He will protect them from Covid-19. But I say to them: “Allah also gave you a brain”.’


    Final Goodbye: Influential People Who Died In 2020

    In a year defined by a devastating pandemic, the world many important activists, great athletes and entertainers who helped define their genres.

    Many of them were internationally famous, like – RBG, Kobe, Maradona, Eddie Van Halen, Little Richard, Sean Connery – but Hong Kong lost its fair share of heroes too.

    Pandemic restrictions often limited the public’s ability to mourn their loss in a year that saw nearly 1.8 million people die from the coronavirus.

    Here is a roll-call of some influential figures who died in 2020 (cause of death cited for younger people, if available):

    2020 in review: Korean films of the year


    Khagendra Thapa Magar, 27. The world’s shortest man (who could walk) was just 67.08cm tall. He was awarded his title in 2010 when he was 18. He lost the title to a fellow Nepali, Chandra Bahadur Dangi, who measured 54.6cm. January 17. Pneumonia.

    Kobe Bryant, 41. The 18-time NBA All-Star won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career spent entirely with the Los Angeles Lakers. January 26. Helicopter crash. His 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were also killed.

    The world mourned when Kobe Bryant - along with his daughter Gianna and seven others - died in a helicopter crash.


    Daniel arap Moi, 95. A former schoolteacher who became Kenya’s longest-serving president. He presided over years of repression and economic turmoil fuelled by runaway corruption. February 4.

    Kirk Douglas, 103. The intense, muscular actor with the dimpled chin, who starred in Spartacus , Lust for Life and dozens of other films, reigned for decades as a Hollywood maverick and patriarch. February 5.

    Joseph Shabalala, 79. The founder of the South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which sang in the local vocal styles of isicathamiya and mbube. Hits include Homeless , and Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes with Paul Simon. February 11.

    Lady Margaret Noel MacLehose, 99. The wife of former Hong Kong governor Murray MacLehose. She and her husband were very fond of walking and Hong Kong’s MacLehose Trail – from Sai Kung to Tuen Mun in the New Territories – was named after them. She also set up the Riding for the Disabled Charity and was chairwoman of the Community Chest. The Lady MacLehose Holiday Village has been turned into a quarantine centre during the Covid-19 outbreak. February 22.

    Thich Quang Do, 91. A Buddhist monk who became the public face of religious dissent in Vietnam while the Communist government kept him in prison or under house arrest for more than 20 years. February 22.

    Katherine Johnson, 101. A mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and Earth orbits for Nasa’s early space missions. She was later portrayed in the 2016 hit film Hidden Figures, about pioneering Black female aerospace workers. February 24.

    Hosni Mubarak, 91. The former Egyptian leader who was the autocratic face of stability in the Middle East for nearly 30 years before being forced from power in an Arab Spring uprising. February 25.

    2020 in review: Video games


    Jack Welch, 84. The business guru who transformed General Electric into a highly profitable multinational company. After he retired, he launched a new career as a corporate leadership guru. March 1. Kidney failure.

    Javier Perez de Cuellar, 100. The two-term United Nations secretary general brokered a historic ceasefire between Iran and Iraq in 1988. Later, he came out of retirement to help re-establish democracy in his Peruvian homeland. March 4.

    Chan Tai-ho, 87. Hong Kong tycoon and the founder of Playmates toymaker which gave the world the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures. March 5.

    Max von Sydow, 90. The actor known to art house audiences through his work with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman and later to film-goers everywhere when he played the priest in the controversial horror classic, The Exorcist . March 8.

    Arnaldo de Oliveira Sales, 100. Known as the Father of Hong Kong Sport, he played a part in the creation of many Hong Kong sporting facilities, such as public swimming pools, Queen Elizabeth Stadium, the Coliseum, and Wan Chai Sports Ground.

    He studied at Hong Kong’s La Salle College and St Joseph’s Seminary in Macau, and excelled at hockey.

    Sales played a major role in creating the Amateur Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong in 1950, becoming its president and giving Hong Kong athletes the opportunity to represent the then British colony in international sporting competitions – including the Olympics – as a separate entity. Previously, Hong Kong’s top athletes would play under the China or Taiwan flags.

    In one of the most famous incidents, he negotiated with Black September terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics in Germany, helping the Hong Kong team escape the athletes’ village where they had shared accommodation with the Israeli athletes. Eleven Israeli athletes were killed in the attack. March 6.

    Kenny Rogers, 81. The Grammy-winning balladeer spanned jazz, folk, country and pop with such hits as Lucille , Lady and Islands in the Stream . He embraced his persona as T he Gambler on records and TV. March 20.

    Bill Withers, 81. He wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s that have stood the test of time, including Lean on Me , Lovely Day and Ain’t No Sunshine . March 30.

    2020 in review: What happened in Hong Kong


    Stirling Moss, 90. A daring, speed-loving Englishman regarded as the greatest Formula One driver never to win the world championship. April 12.

    Irrfan Khan, 54. A veteran character actor in Bollywood movies and one of India’s best-known exports to Hollywood. April 29. Colon infection.

    Gerard McCoy, 63. A barrister and constitutional law expert who defended political activists as well as some of Hong Kong’s most notorious killers. Known as the “best legal brain–” in the city. April 30. Leukaemia.

    Rishi Kapoor, 67. A top Indian actor who was a member of Bollywood’s most famous Kapoor family. April 30. Leukaemia.


    Little Richard, 87. He was one of the chief architects of rock ’n’ roll whose piercing wail, pounding piano and famous hairstyle irrevocably altered popular music while introducing Black R&B to white America. His hits include Good Golly Miss Molly , Hound Dog . May 9. Bone cancer.

    Jerry Stiller, 92. The high-strung Frank Costanza on the classic sitcom Seinfeld and the basement-dwelling father-in-law on The King of Queens. May 11.

    Stanley Ho Hung-sun, 98. Macau’s casino tycoon was, for a long time, one of the richest men in Asia. He was born into a wealthy Eurasian family in Hong Kong. But when his family fell on hard times, he became ill with beriberi, a disease caused by not having enough to eat. When girls asked him to buy them coffee, he would run away because he didn’t have the money.

    He went to Macau during the second world war with only HK$10 in his pocket. When he retired in 2018, his personal fortune was estimated to be worth HK$50 billion. His casino business dominated Macau for decades. May 26.

    Little Richard was famous for popularising R&B music in the US.


    Vera Lynn, 103. The endearingly popular “Forces’ Sweetheart” who sang in front of British troops during the second world war. Her hits included We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover. June 18.


    Ennio Morricone, 91. The Oscar-winning Italian composer who created the coyote-howl theme for the iconic Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and soundtracks for such classic Hollywood gangster movies as The Untouchables and Once Upon A Time In America. July 6. Complications from surgery after a fall.

    Naya Rivera, 33. A singer and actor who played a gay cheerleader on the hit TV musical comedy Glee. July 8. Drowning.

    Olivia de Havilland, 104. The doe-eyed actress beloved to millions as the sainted Melanie Wilkes of the very unPC (not politically correct) Gone With the Wind , but also a two-time Oscar winner and an off-screen fighter who challenged and unchained Hollywood’s contract system. July 26.

    Lee Teng-hui, 97. A former Taiwanese president who brought direct elections and other democratic changes to the self-governed island despite missile launches and other fierce sabre-rattling by China. July 30.

    The best Young Adult novels of 2020


    Benny Chan Muk-sing, 58. A Hong Kong film director responsible for several of the best Hong Kong action movies in the past 30 years. His hits include A Moment of Romance and New Police Story. August 24. Cancer.

    Chadwick Boseman, 43. He played Black American icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown with searing intensity before inspiring audiences worldwide as the regal Black Panther in Marvel’s blockbuster movie franchise. August 28. Colon cancer.


    Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87. The US Supreme Court justice developed a cult-like following over her more than 27 years on the bench, especially among young women who appreciated her lifelong, fierce defence of women’s rights. September 18.

    Timothy Ray Brown, 54. He made history as “the Berlin patient”, the first person known to be cured of HIV infection. September 29. Leukaemia.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg was seen as an icon and defender of women's rights.


    Kenzo Takada, 81. The iconic French-Japanese fashion designer whose styles used bold colour and clashing prints that were inspired by his travels all over the world. October 4. Coronavirus.

    Eddie Van Halen, 65. The guitar virtuoso whose blinding speed, control and innovation propelled his band Van Halen into one of hard rock’s biggest groups. Their hits included Jump and You Really Got Me Now. October 6. Cancer.

    Johnny Nash, 80. A singer-songwriter, actor and producer who rose from pop crooner to early reggae star to the creator and performer of the million-selling anthem I Can See Clearly Now . October 6.

    Lee Kun-hee, 78. The tycoon behind South Korean electronics giant Samsung. October 25. Heart attack.

    Sean Connery, 90. The charismatic Scottish actor who rose to international superstardom as the suave secret agent James Bond and then abandoned the role to carve out an Oscar-winning career in other rugged roles. October 31.


    Diego Maradona, 60. The Argentine soccer great who scored the notorious “Hand of God” goal at the 1986 World Cup before leading his country to the title at the same competition. Later, he struggled with cocaine addiction and obesity. November 25. Heart attack.


    Chuck Yeager, American Air force officer and test pilot. The first man to break the sound barrier. December 7.

    John le Carre, 89. AKA David John Moore Cornwell was known for his spy novels.

    Jeremy Bulloch, 75. The British actor who played badass bounty hunter Boba Fett in the original Star Wars films. Even though it was a minor role, Boba Fett became a firm favourite among Star Wars fans. Bulloch rocked the costume so well and his ship, Slave 1, was so awesome that the part changed his life forever. May the force be with you always. December 17.

    'Saaho' Director Sujeeth Ties The Knot Amid Covid-19 Pandemic


    Mumbai, Aug 3 (IANS) Filmmaker Sujeeth, who is best known for directing the Prabhas-starrer, Saaho, has tied the knot with fiancee Pravallika in a low key affair, amid the ongoing pandemic.

    Several pictures from Sujeeth’s wedding ceremony are doing the rounds on the internet. While the filmmaker dons a traditional dhoti-kurta ensemble, Pravallika looked graceful in a pink saree.

    The couple got engaged in June. Fans wished the newlyweds a happy married life.





    Five killed in blaze at Indian producer of Covid-19 vaccine

    No result found, try new keyword!At least five people have died in a fire that broke out at a building under construction at the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest ...

    Marshall McKay, Indigenous leader who helped steer Autry Museum, dies of COVID-19 at 68

    Marshall McKay, a Northern California Indigenous leader of Pomo-Wintun heritage who helped secure economic independence for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation near Sacramento, and whose deep support of cultural causes led to his becoming the first Indigenous chairman on the board of the Autry Museum of the American West, has died at 68 after contracting the coronavirus.

    Last month, McKay and his wife, Sharon Rogers McKay, tested positive for the coronavirus and were both hospitalized after experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Rogers McKay recovered and was eventually released. Her husband did not. Marshall McKay died Dec. 29 at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles. His death was confirmed by a representative for the Autry Museum and his stepson, Alex Aander.

    Rick West, president and chief executive at the Autry, said McKay’s death marks a huge loss for the museum but also Native culture at large. McKay was, West said, “one of the five — maybe even three — significant Native leaders in the late 20th century and early 21st century period.”

    “We will miss his strength and wisdom,” said a joint statement issued by the members of the Yocha Dehe Tribal Council. “He was a resolute protector of Native American heritage here, within our own homeland, but also throughout California and Indian Country.”

    His stepson describes a congenial family man who loved road trips, Nicolas Cage movies and his chihuahuas — at one point he had a brood of 10 — the most beloved of which he named Frida Kahlo.

    “I know that he has done so much incredible work in his life and I know only a small fragment of it,” Aander said. “I knew him as a human being. … My biggest memory is road trips. We would drive around the countryside for hours and let the rock ’n’ roll do the talking.”

    A black and white headshot of Marshall McKay

    Marshall McKay supported Indigenous cultural causes throughout his life.

    (Autry Museum of the American West)

    McKay, who was the first in his tribe to go to college, was involved in tribal governance for a three-decade period starting in the 1980s and helped the Yocha Dehe expand its land holdings in its ancestral territories in what is now Yolo County. He also helped the tribe achieve economic independence through a casino development — the Cache Creek Casino Resort, about an hour’s drive west of Sacramento. Half a dozen years ago, with his involvement, the tribe expanded into agricultural production, which included the development of S├ęka Hills, a brand of artisanal olive oil.

    If economic issues were important to him as a tribal leader, so were cultural ones.

    “The economics and the fight for sovereignty — the things I fought for all of my life — I think we’ve got that,” he told the Sacramento Bee in 2006. “Now we need to revitalize our spirituality, our culture — for the young people.”

    McKay was a founding member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, which supported Indigenous artists and culture. In 2007, he was tapped by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the Native American Heritage Commission. Shortly thereafter, he joined the boards of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington and the Autry in Los Angeles. At the time, the Autry had recently merged with the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, making it the steward of the second-largest collection of Native American art and artifacts in the United States.

    In 2010, McKay became the first Indigenous person to serve as chair of the Autry’s board of trustees.

    “To come into this position is outstanding for a Native American,” he told The Times’ Mike Boehm upon being appointed. “One of my goals as chairman is to bring those perceptions along, so it’s not just a ‘cowboy museum,’ but a museum of the American West.”

    West said that McKay was key to expanding the Autry’s vision to be more inclusive of Indigenous and other histories.

    “When he came on board, they had brought the Southwest collection in and it was about telling the stories of all the people of the American West — the Autry was ready to move,” West said. “And I think it was Marshall who led that. He led that evolution.”

    Marshall McKay and Sharon Rogers McKay stand before a wall text that reads "The Life and Work of Mabel McKay"

    Marshall McKay and his wife, Sharon Rogers McKay, at the Autry Museum for an exhibition of works by his mother, celebrated weaver Mabel McKay.

    (Danielle Klebanow / Autry Museum of the American West)

    Marshall McKay was born June 5, 1952, in Colusa, Calif., to Mabel McKay, a renowned Pomo teacher and basket weaver, and Charlie McKay, who was of Wintun heritage. Marshall studied at UC Berkeley and Sonoma State. He later served in the U.S. Navy, helping maintain nuclear submarines.

    He became involved in tribal politics in 1984, serving first on the Yocha Dehe Tribal Council, followed by a decadelong stint as chairman. After the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988, he was instrumental in working with the state of California to develop the tribe’s gaming operations.

    Beyond his own community, McKay worked tirelessly to support broader Indigenous causes. He served as a member of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, and he was a central figure in the ongoing effort to establish a California Tribal College, an initiative to educate Native people from throughout the state. On the cultural front, he had long campaigned against the use of Indigenous symbols as mascots in sports.

    “It really is racism,” he told NPR in 2014, “and I think it’s time to talk about it from the Native perspective.”

    He joined the board of the Autry in 2007 and remained involved even after his term as board chair ended in 2016. McKay was instrumental in getting West, who had previously served as director of the NMAI (and had already retired), to take over as director of the Autry, after a previous director abruptly stepped down in 2012.

    McKay and Rogers McKay, his wife of almost two decades, were important collectors of Indigenous artifacts. It was he who acquired and preserved a logbook that was signed by thousands of activists during the Indigenous occupation of Alcatraz in the early 1970s — a book that one scholar described as a “holy grail” of Alcatraz research and which the Autry made available to the public in the fall.

    “It’s an important part of the history of the West,” he said in an interview with The Times, of preserving Indigenous history. “The story needs to be told.”

    In 2018, the Autry opened an exhibition that explored the work of McKay’s mother, Mabel, who in addition to being a celebrated basket weaver had also been an important advocate for Indigenous knowledge and artifacts in California. Like her son, she too served on the Native American Heritage Commission — appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1976.

    West said the installation at the Autry included a sound piece in which McKay talked about the legacy of his mother. “It was so powerful,” West said. “You realized from whence this man came. It was not only in his DNA, but everything around him.”

    McKay, West said, understood something critical about culture — that “cultural preservation was the preservation of the community itself.”

    Besides his wife and stepson, McKay is survived by another stepson, Brendt Rogers, his stepdaughter, Hsin-Neh Rogers, and her daughter, Chyna Peeler. McKay is also survived by his sister, Harriet Roberts, and Dillon McKay, a son from a previous marriage.

    A service is being planned for a future date.


    India OKs AstraZeneca and locally made COVID-19 vaccines

    NEW DELHI (AP) — India authorized two COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second-most populous country.

    The country’s drugs regulator gave emergency authorization for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, and another developed by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

    Drugs Controller General Dr. Venugopal G. Somani said that both vaccines would be administered in two dosages. He said the decision to approve the vaccines was made after “careful examination” by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, India’s pharmaceutical regulator.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the vaccine approval a “decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight.”

    “It would make every Indian proud that the two vaccines that have been given emergency use approval are made in India!” Modi tweeted.

    AstraZeneca has contracted Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, to make 1 billion doses of its vaccine for developing nations, including India. On Wednesday, Britain became the first country to approve the shot.

    India, however, will not allow the export of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine for several months, Adar Poonawalla, Serum Institute’s CEO, said Sunday. The ban on exports means that poorer nations will probably have to wait a few months before receiving their first shots.

    The move was made to ensure that vulnerable populations in India are protected and to prevent hoarding, Poonawalla said in an interview with The Associated Press.

    But questions have been raised by health experts over the vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech. They point out that clinical trials began only recently, making it almost impossible for the firm to have analyzed and submitted data showing that its shots are effective in preventing illness from the coronavirus.

    India has confirmed more than 10.3 million cases of the virus, second in the world behind the U.S., though its rate of infection has come down significantly from a mid-September peak. It also has reported over 149,000 deaths.

    The country’s initial immunization plan aims to vaccinate 300 million people — healthcare workers, front-line staff including police, and those considered vulnerable due to their age or other diseases — by August 2021. For effective distribution, over 20,000 health workers have been trained so far to administer the vaccine, the Health Ministry said.

    But the plan poses a major challenge. India has one of the world’s largest immunization programs, but it isn’t geared around adults, and vaccine coverage remains patchy. Still, neither of the approved vaccines requires the ultra-cold storage facilities that some others do. Instead they can be stored in refrigerators, making them more feasible for the country.

    Although Serum Institute of India doesn’t have a written agreement with the Indian government, its chief executive, Adar Poonawalla, said India would be “given priority” and would receive most of its stockpile of around 50 million doses.

    Partial results from studies for the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in almost 24,000 people in Britain, Brazil and South Africa suggest that the vaccine is safe and about 70% effective. That isn’t as good as some other vaccine candidates, and there are also concerns about how well the vaccine will protect older people.

    The other vaccine, known as COVAXIN, is developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with government agencies and is based on an inactivated form of the coronavirus. Early clinical studies showed that the vaccine doesn’t have any serious side effects and produces antibodies for COVID-19. But late clinical trials began in mid-November. The second shot was to be given 28 days after the first, and an immune response prompted two weeks later.

    That time frame means that it isn’t possible that the company submitted data showing that the shots are effective in preventing infection from the virus, said Dr. Gagandeep Kang, an infectious diseases expert at the Christian Medical College at Vellore.

    All India Drug Action Network, a public health watchdog, issued a statement demanding greater transparency.

    Somani, the regulator, said that “the vaccine has been found to be safe,” but refused to say whether any efficacy data was shared.

    The Health Ministry said in a statement that permission was granted for Bharat Biotech’s shot for restricted use in the “public interest as an abundant precaution in clinical trial mode, especially in the context of infection by mutant strains.”

    But Kang said that the claim that the vaccine could help against a mutant variant of the virus was “hypothetical” and without any evidence.

    Indian regulators are still considering approvals for other vaccines, including one made by Pfizer.


    The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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