Taxi representatives will be pushing for taxi drivers to be one of the first groups to receive COVID-19 vaccines says a trade representative.
The news comes as the Government has formally requested the UK’s independent medicines regulator assess the suitability of Oxford/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for temporary supply, as soon as the company submits the necessary safety, quality and efficacy data.
The move marks a significant first step in getting the vaccine approved for deployment, should it meet the regulator’s requirements.
Earlier this week, the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca published their interim efficacy results, which indicated the vaccine was at least 70% effective in protecting individuals from COVID-19.
This rose to 90% effective when administered as half a dose, followed by a full dose – rather than 2 full doses.
Men working as taxi drivers and chauffeurs were shown to be one of the most at risk in an occupational study based around the death rates of COVID-19.
In the summer, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) analysed all 4,761 deaths involving the coronavirus in the working age population, those aged 20 to 64 years, in England and Wales registered between 9 March and 25 May. Of those deaths, 134 were taxi drivers or chauffeurs.
Nearly two-thirds of these deaths (3,122) were among men. Because of the higher number of deaths among men, 17 specific occupations were found to have raised rates of death involving COVID-19, some of which included:
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs (65.3 deaths per 100,000; 134 deaths),
Bus and coach drivers (44.2 deaths per 100,000; 53 deaths),
Chefs (56.8 deaths per 100,000; 49 deaths),
Sales and retail assistants (34.2 deaths per 100,000; 43 deaths).
Of the 17 specific occupations among men in England and Wales found to have higher rates of death involving COVID-19, data shows that 11 of these have statistically significantly higher proportions of workers from Black and Asian ethnic backgrounds (BAME); for women, data shows that two of the four specific occupations with elevated rates have statistically significantly higher proportions of workers from BAME backgrounds.
As a result there has now been calls from London’s biggest taxi driver association, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), to include cabbies as one of the first groups to receive any vaccine. There are also ongoing moves from the industry to promote the safe travel and precautions taken by black cab drivers.
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the LTDA, said in the Taxi Magazine: “We are still working to promote taxis and all the extra precautions drivers are taking."
McNamara continued: “Our message is that in a world that’s always changing you can still rely on black cabs and that we are proud to serve London securely – avoiding using the word safe which everyone is so scared of. We are also launching a COVID Secure Cab promise which highlights all the extra precautions drivers are taking, and after lockdown we will be promoting this more widely and providing stickers for members to display and content to share on social media.
“We are also working with the Department of Transport who are developing some more detailed safer travel guidance for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles and looking at ways to potentially provide funding for PPE and cleaning devices. We know this is too little too late, but anything we can do to reassure passengers that taxis are as safe as possible, should help encourage people back into cabs over the next few months.
“We will also be pushing for transport workers including taxi drivers to be one of the groups to receive any vaccine early on.”