BLACKBURN with Darwen's health boss is concerned that if the borough keeps seeing stubborn infection rates the area could be put under additional restrictions in the summer.

Speaking about the JVCI's vaccination prioritisation strategy, the public health director, Professor Dominic Harrison explained that if infection rates rise, as he predicts they could in Blackburn, the area could face central Government interjection like last August.

He said: "I am worried as a director of public heath that we are going to get faster rising infection rates.

"They [the rest of the country] will be enjoying their summer in the new normal but they will be enjoying much lower rates, a much lower risk to the population.

"There is a solution to that and that is to roll out the vaccine according to need, according to risk and that risk and need is evident in the data.

"Blackburn with Darwen Council and other have written to central Government saying 'please roll out the vaccine according to need'. We are getting a zero response to that."

Speaking about the risk of a higher rising infection rate, Professor Harrison added: "Will that risk be higher for us in Lancashire? I think the evidence we have is that it will and so probably expect our rates to rise faster than the national average. The question is how fast and how far.

"We are on a very fine line really, we are undoubtedly going to get rising rates whether we will get intervention from central government will be a very balanced judgement based on numbers of people then infected and the control mechanisms we have in place."

Blackburn with Darwen has had some of the highest infection rates of any local authority in the country through the pandemic despite the fact that the area has been under some kind of additional lockdown measures since August last year.

Over the weekend, the health boss said that the JVCI vaccine prioritisation is "deeply flawed" and now discussed how vaccine denial could pose a risk to BAME communities who are more susceptible to becoming infected by Covid-19.

Speaking in a conference about how the pandemic has affected, and will continue to affect the BAME community, Professor Dominic Harrison said: "BAME communities are going to have bigger risks because they aren't getting vaccinated according to need than they are from a small percentage who are refusing.

He added: "The vaccination is not being offered according to risk, it is being offered at the same rate to every local authority area.

"One of my arguments looking at the data for Lancashire is that refusing to vaccinate by risk will have a disproportionate affect on BAME populations.

"They are going to have continued high Covid transmission and risk of cases but will not get the vaccine to match that high risk because the vaccine."

A report completed by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), which was leaked by the Guardian, described how areas, including Blackburn with Darwen, with a high proportion of BAME communities have been hardest hit by the virus due to what was described as a "perfect storm".

The report continued to say that “existing socioeconomic inequality” had left black, Asian and minority ethnic communities more exposed to coronavirus due to living in cramped, multigenerational housing in deprived areas and working in public-facing jobs.