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Vaccine cover Dazed

Sadiq Khan on the future of London culture and the youth push for vaccines

The London mayor joined Dazed for a Twitter Spaces chat to discuss combatting misinformation during the vaccine rollout and his hopes for the future of culture in the capital

To celebrate the release of Dazed’s summer 2021 issue, editor-in-chief Ib Kamara was joined by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as well as editorial director Lynette Nylander and Dazed Digital editor Anna Cafolla, to discuss what’s next for the English capital post-vaccine.

The discussion took place yesterday (June 2) on Twitter Spaces, and kicked off with Kamara and Nylander explaining the thinking behind the issue’s vaccine cover story

“The vaccine cover in particular we felt was a really important message for now, for young people to understand the importance of the vaccine in a way that’s seen through a magical, editorial lens,” said Nylander.

“The concept for the vaccine cover came from a meeting with Jefferson (Hack). We were talking about this issue as a ‘National Geographic for global youth culture’ and what that could mean,” explained Kamara. 

“I think the cover feels encouraging and hopeful for young people of whatever colour and community. I think we can bring light and humanity to more serious matters while still being sensitive. We don’t want to police young people and their thoughts, we want to make them feel represented,” he added.

Nylander was then joined by Sadiq Khan to discuss how Covid has shone a light on society’s most galling issues. This included how systemic racism and a lack of faith in institutional power has infected minority communities with vaccine hesitancy, and how young people have been pummelled by online misinformation and conspiracy.

Speaking on the vaccine cover, Khan said: “It’s addressing the elephant in the room, because for us to live our lives with this deadly virus amongst us, we need to take the vaccine.”

He added: “The vaccine is a game changer, a life saver. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequalities in our society. It’s young people who have suffered the most in the pandemic in relation to university deferments, losing jobs, not being able to do the things we normally do.”

Khan also addressed concerns around the vaccine. “When I speak to many Londoners, especially BAME Londoners, they’re suspicious about some pharmaceutical companies, they’re suspicious about people in positions of power. There’s issues of confidence and we have to recognise that.”

“Their experience of people in positions of power is often a negative one. We shouldn’t assume that people have genuine concerns, that they’re COVID deniers or anti-vaxxers,” he added. ”We should engage with them and promote discussion. We’re combating misinformation by making sure we educate people. We don’t want to amplify fake news, but we’re trying to make it as easy as possible to access the vaccine.”

Khan concluded by announcing the arrival of a new campaign, Let’s Do London, which he described as “the biggest domestic tourism campaign London has ever seen”. ”We’re working with lots of amazing people across our city to encourage people who live in London to come to the West End, or encourage people who live outside the city to come to London,” he explained.

“Good culture reflects society, great culture shapes it. As intrinsically brilliant as culture is, it also creates wealth and prosperity.”

The summer 2021 issue of Dazed is out now. Find out more here