Readers' Letters: A zero Covid strategy won’t eradicate the virus

Graham Checkley of the campaign group Zero Covid Scotland believes we can eliminate Covid from Scotland (Scotsman, 22 September). Unfortunately, the pseudo-scientific tone of the article and the author's liberal use of cherry-picked quotations reveal his approach to scientific matters to be closer to that of the deluded souls who blocked the M8 this week than it is to mainstream medical science.

Must we resign ourselves to living with Covid?

He writes that infectious diseases can be eradicated and he specifically references tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid and polio.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection and is certainly not under control – according to the World Health Organisation over one and a half million people worldwide died from TB in 2018.

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Cholera and typhoid are also bacterial infections. They have been suppressed in the West in modern times through improved sanitation and nutrition, as well as better housing and a reduction in overcrowding.

Polio, the one viral infection on his list, has indeed been successfully controlled, for which all of us who have ever been parents of young children are eternally grateful. However, the polio virus cannot be compared to SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid. It infects only humans and it has no animal reservoir. In contrast, it is almost certain that SARS-CoV-2 jumped from a reservoir in the bat population to humans and there is now clear evidence that it can also infect a sizeable number of other mammalian species as well.

Unless Mr Checkley is recommending the mass eradication of many non-human mammalian species worldwide then we must accept that the virus is with us for good and we must rely primarily on immunisation to control its spread.

I in no way wish to minimise the effect of the Covid pandemic – it has led to a significant loss of life and widespread suffering and ongoing heartache worldwide – but I would like to remind Mr Checkley that he omitted another viral illness from his list, one which can at times be associated with a coronavirus and which we have never come close to eliminating – the common cold.

(Dr) Michael J Laggan, Newton of Balcanquhal, Perth and Kinross

Ex-pat donors

The UK voting system generally works reasonably well, and I suppose there is an argument for the clause which allows British ex-pats to live abroad for 15 years, without losing the right to vote.

But I don’t see any reason why these people should have the right to donate to UK political parties, potentially influencing the election without being affected by the outcome.

Yet, not content with this concession, which greatly favours the Conservative Party, Prime Minister Johnson’s government are presently putting a bill through parliament, part of which would scrap the time limit on voting rights, and, consequently, on the right to donate. So wealthy ex-pats, for example, would then be able to fund our political parties in perpetuity, without being subject to the rule of their beneficiaries.

An example is John Gore, resident in the Bahamas for more than ten years, who has given more than £4 million to the Conservative Party over that decade. If this bill is passed, he will be able to continue to have an inappropriate influence on UK politics for as long as he likes, whilst paying no UK taxes, and possibly never setting foot in the UK. Surely this cannot be right.

Les Mackay, Dundee

Class A rubbish

I could not disagree more with the statement from Angela Constance about the relaxation of Class A drugs possession rules.

This policy will consign inner-city children to yet more experimentation with dangerous drugs and will simply increase the numbers of addicts and ultimately deaths.

What is it that the SNP cannot understand about the value of deterrence in matters of human behaviour?

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Shale fail

Dr John Cameron's nonsense about the panacea of shale fracking (Letters, 23 September) can be encapsulated by the fate of the original Scottish Third Division in 1926.

After only three years, the league collapsed mid-season due to the collapse of the entire industry leaving most of its clubs (and four from West Lothian in the Second Division) without paying customers.

Shale was and remains snake oil for rash investors – the shale mounds like mini Ulurus scarring the Scottish landscape to this day are mute testament to the follies of the past.

With respect to Professor Wilson Sibbett – oft trotted out by reactionaries to anything with a hint of green to it – his expertise is in lasers, and he possesses no more remarkable insights into renewable energy than next door's cat. Unlike Hogwarts, professorship doesn't means auto-infusement with the wisdom of the gods in all things.

As for calling windmills "Heath Robinson devices" (how quaint!), does he mean the mainstay of the pre-steam engine age for 13 centuries that still dot the landscapes of Norfolk and the Netherlands?

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Caught short

Gas, food and CO2 shortages for Scottish businesses and households would not have occurred if we were independent as Scotland produces four times the amount of gas it

uses and exports vast amounts of electricity, oil, food and drink.

The UK has the most expensive fuel bills in Europe as it is no longer part of the EU Internal Energy Market.

As part of the UK, Scotland’s renewables are charged the highest grid connection charges in Europe and more than double that of our immediate competitors in northern England.

EU single market rules still apply in Northern Ireland – that's why there's no CO2 shortage there. Scotland on the other hand, which voted against leaving the EU single market by a greater margin, has to deal with these shortages.

The lack of EU workers is damaging our hospitality sector and exacerbating hospital bed blocking as care homes and hospitals can’t easily increase their workforce.

Recently, Scotland's farmers' union pointed out: “The looming labour crisis is undermining all parts of the food and drink supply chain, leading to significant losses on some Scottish farms and resulting in a growing number of empty shop shelves." Europe isn’t running out of foodstuffs.

This winter’s high prices and food shortages are other reasons to become a normal self-governing nation.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Field hospitals

I’m behind Jackie Baillie (Scotsman, 23 September) and her renewed calls on the Scottish Government to set up field hospitals to ease the pressure on our overflowing hospitals and their exhausted staff.

As the army prepares to assist with ambulance services, I’m sure it has medical, para and nursing staff who can be redeployed in this emergency. Or have we reduced the military to such low numbers that even they can’t provide a back-up service?

Field hospitals aren’t new. Elsie Inglis and the Scottish Women’s Hospital First World War units proved they can be very effective.

Fiona Garwood, Edinburgh

Who to believe?

In yesterday’s Scotsman there are two letters giving quite different analyses of NHS Scotland.

Of the two, Dr Gerald Edwards’ letter chimed more precisely with my experience over the past several years than the glorified vision presented by SNP apologist Fraser Grant.

EP Carruthers, Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway

No more excuses

It becomes very wearisome to hear leading figures in the SNP/Green administration repeatedly claim or suggest that the crisis in the ambulance service in Scotland, as well as in the NHS in general and much else, are all, or mostly all, attributable to the pandemic. This is utter nonsense.

For more than a decade the SNP have been in charge of running our health service.

In the same period they have opened ‘’pretendy’’ embassies overseas at staggering costs for a matter that is reserved; handed out a series of populist freebies and indulged in much nationalist window-dressing, such as having Gaelic signs printed on all public service vehicles; buying a redundant airport; and nationalising a shipyard that is now a basket case.

On and on it goes, all of them vanity and fantasy projects, and critically absorbing our taxes, which could have gone towards not cutting but instead properly funding our councils and providing better health care and welfare for the most vulnerable in our society. They could have cut the toll of the worst drugs death rates in Europe, if they had put aside nationalist fervour and prioritised.

This administration’s record is Scottish nationalism write large – “all fur coat and nae knickers”. Even their zealots must wake up at some point.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Dixon’s views

Dr Richard Dixon of Friends of the Earth Scotland started writing his weekly climate change articles to The Scotsman many years ago. Many disagreed with him and I admit that I found his articles one-sided and infuriating. However, this week’s article (“Climate, peatland and our drinking water”, Scotsman, 23 September) was different.

I never thought I would say this but I agreed with him. However, in view of the untold damage that erecting wind turbines has done to our peatlands and planned turbines will do to our peatlands why did he and Friends of the Earth not speak up sooner and halt the progress of these generators of unreliable expensive part-time electricity?

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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