Caller's elderly mum cancels two Covid jabs due to 'Bill Gates' conspiracy theory

16 February 2021, 09:44 | Updated: 16 February 2021, 09:50

By Fiona Jones

This desperate caller has told LBC that her mum, 78, has cancelled two Covid jab appointments due to fears caused by 'Bill Gates microchip' conspiracy theories.

It comes after the NHS England head said that "meaningful progress" is being made in the campaign to overcome COVID vaccine hesitancy, but it is happening amid a "pandemic of disinformation."

This was powerfully shown in a study which found much lower proportions of black and Asian staff at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust have come forward to have a Covid-19 vaccine.

Caller Meliha told Nick Ferrari that she is Asian and her mother has absorbed many differing opinions and rumours within the community.

Her mother has cancelled two Covid jab vaccine appointments and she is trying desperately to rebook her mother one for this week.

"It's all these conspiracy theories, I really don't know where they come from, it's the Bill Gates one about the microchip," Meliha said, "my mum has a smartphone and I've had to have really long chats with Mum about how to fact check any videos or news she gets."

She told Nick she's had to sift through the links and videos on her mother's phone and explain that it is fake news.

"One bad opinion or a rumour starts and it spreads so quickly, especially within our community," she said, adding that "there are lots of people in her community [who are] getting the vaccine done."

Meliha's mother was being told by others that she should not have the jab until the Pfizer doses were available, to which Meliha responded that her local health centre could not keep a certain vaccine especially for her.

Nick asked what would persuade a lady such as Meliha's mother to take the vaccine.

"Within the Asian community itself it really comes to 'monkey see monkey do'. If there are enough people getting no side effects, that's why I said 'Mum, speak to everyone who's had it'...she is doing a little bit of her own research," Meliha said.

Separately, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told Nick that he vows to share more jab data to tackle vaccine hesitancy amongst minority communities.