UK has highest coronavirus death rate: analysis

UK has highest coronavirus death rate: analysis
A sign displaying advice on social distancing is displayed at the beach in Weston-super-Mare, south west England on May 27, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 28 May 2020

UK has highest coronavirus death rate: analysis

UK has highest coronavirus death rate: analysis
  • Britain has registered almost 60,000 more deaths than usual since the week ending March 20
  • Britain has Europe’s highest death toll from the pandemic

LONDON: Britain has suffered the highest death rate from the coronavirus among the most-affected countries with comparable tracking data, according to Financial Times research published Thursday.
Official numbers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released earlier this week show Britain has registered almost 60,000 more deaths than usual since the week ending March 20.
Subsequent analysis by the FT, which looked at data from 19 countries, indicate the virus has directly or indirectly killed 891 people per million in the UK, the highest comparable figure.
According to this measure, the UK death rate exceeds those in other countries also badly affected by the pandemic, including the US, Italy, Spain and Belgium.
Counting how many people died above a running average for the previous five years is considered by many experts to be the best way to give international comparisons, due to a lack of uniformity in the way countries collect data.
Britain has Europe’s highest death toll from the pandemic, with more than 46,000 fatalities attributed to the virus by mid-May, according to ONS figures.
The government, whose separate tally of deaths confirmed by a positive test now stands at 37,460, has faced sustained criticism over its handling of the crisis.
According to the latest AFP tally, published Thursday, the coronavirus death toll in Europe has now passed 175,000, making it the worst affected continent.
In addition, Italy — which does not count most deaths in care homes or the community — has officially suffered 33,072 deaths, France 28,596 and Spain 27,118.
The US topped 100,000 fatalities on Wednesday and the global number of deaths now stands at more than 355,000.


Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign
Updated 18 January 2021

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign
  • Indonesia planning to inoculate 181 million in nationwide vaccination drive

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government’s strategy to promote coronavirus vaccination is under fire after an influencer who received a vaccine jab last week was spotted violating health guidelines just a few
hours later.

Indonesia started the nationwide vaccination drive on Wednesday to inoculate 181 million of its 276 million people, after the national drug regulator authorized the emergency use of the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech and the country’s highest authority on Islamic affairs approved it as halal, or permissible under Islamic law.

President Joko Widodo, who was the first Indonesian to receive the vaccine, described the campaign as a “game changer,” amid hopes that achieving herd immunity would help to revive the economy, which has been reeling from the pandemic. 

Alongside officials and religious leaders, 33-year-old soap opera star Raffi Ahmad also received the jab. Government strategists hoped he would promote vaccine acceptance with his huge social media presence of some 50 million followers on Instagram and 19 million on YouTube.

However, soon after receiving his shot Ahmad was photographed at a party, without a face mask and violating social distancing measures imposed by the government to contain the virus spread. The photos quickly made the rounds on social media, provoking a backlash to the government’s campaign and resulting in a lawsuit against the celebrity.

“He was really careless. He is tasked with promoting the vaccination drive, but he failed to behave accordingly,” said David Tobing, an independent lawyer who has filed the case against Ahmad for “violating the regulations to control the pandemic and for public indecency.”

“I demand in my lawsuit that the court order Ahmad to stay at home for 30 days after he gets his second vaccine jab and to issue a public apology in national print and broadcast media,” Tobing told Arab News on Saturday. “I filed the lawsuit after I received a lot of feedback from the public, including COVID-19 survivors and those who have lost loved ones because of the coronavirus.”

Ahmad has apologized on social media, saying that he did not want to disappoint the president and the public after getting the privilege of being vaccinated, but justified going to the party as it was held at a private home and said that he taken the mask off only to eat. The first hearing against Ahmad is scheduled to be held at a district court in Depok near Jakarta on Jan. 27, Tobing said. He added that he is aware that Ahmad had apologized but the actor “did not seem to have any regret.”

In response to a question by Arab News at a press briefing after the incident, national COVID-19 task force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito said that officials had reprimanded Ahmad over the blunder. He justified the involvement of celebrities in the vaccination campaign.

“When we have a major program like vaccination, we hope that a big influencer such as Raffi Ahmad can play a pivotal role to make sure young people will support the vaccination,” Adisasmito said.

Experts have criticized the government’s strategy, saying that Ahmad receiving the vaccine is unlikely to appease public concerns over the vaccine’s efficacy and possible side effects.

“Health professionals, religious figures and government officials have more credibility and integrity to promote this vaccination drive than influencers,” said Sulfikar Amir, a sociologist from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Amir, who initiated a petition in early December calling on the government to give vaccinations to all citizens when Jakarta was still planning to inoculate only selected groups, said that by appointing the celebrity influencer to promote immunization the government showed that it “has no ability to influence the public to take part in the vaccination drive.”

“This is not the same as promoting consumer goods that the influencers normally do,” he said. “It is about public health issues.”