Covid in Scotland: Public inquiry more urgent than ever if we are to stop being outsmarted by virus – Scotsman comment

Hot on the heels of complaints that people are struggling to obtain Covid test kits come reports of problems getting an appointment for a Covid booster vaccine to protect against the new Omicron variant.

In such situations, it would be understandable if people take out their frustrations on staff. Understandable, but also completely unacceptable.

For the people tasked with inoculating the nation, and their managers, are the heroes of the hour. They are the ones who will be working hard over the festive period to vaccinate all eligible adults by the end of this month.

If there are shortcomings in the service being offered, then this is a reflection of the shortcomings of those in charge, with the buck ultimately stopping at Nicola Sturgeon’s door.


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Some may argue that the Omicron variant was a game-changing event and the Scottish and UK governments are reacting as quickly as they can.

However, just as scientists warned a pandemic was overdue long before Covid, there were numerous warnings that a variant of the disease that was less well controlled by vaccines could emerge.

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Indeed, The Scotsman wrote in April that it “should by now be obvious to everyone... that vast numbers of new Covid cases dramatically increase the chance of new genetic variants of the virus that could render our vaccines less effective or, potentially, completely ineffective” in an editorial arguing for greater efforts to vaccinate the global population.


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Nicola Sturgeon receives a Covid booster vaccination in Glasgow earlier this month (Picture: Russell Cheyne/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

There have been ideas on how our domestic response to Covid could be improved. For example, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has called for the creation of a “permanent vaccinator workforce”. We could also create a civil preparedness agency to deal with such threats.

However, as we have said a number of times before, the most effective way to learn lessons from this enduring crisis is to have a public inquiry.

In Scotland, one was promised by the end of this year, with a UK inquiry set for next year. But, alarmingly, since these pledges were made, things have gone decidedly quiet.


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Nearly two years into the Covid crisis, it seems we are still being outsmarted by this virus. Politicians concerned about their reputations cannot be allowed to further delay what could be our best chance to turn the tables.

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