Readers' Letters: Covid confirmation bias dragging UK down

Every scientist, every lawyer, indeed, every mature person knows that evidence often fits with more than one interpretation. Take the recent report that between a third and a quarter of colds in the UK now are actually Covid-19. The official view of this is that we should take more measures to combat Covid because there is a lot of it about. An alternative interpretation is that if the symptoms of these Covid cases are no worse than having a cold then we shouldn’t be overreacting.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney say Scotland is in grave danger from Omicron (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney say Scotland is in grave danger from Omicron (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Similarly, senior politicians and their scientific advisers dwell on the fact that the Omicron variant of Covid is more infectious than the dominant Delta strain. They completely ignore that both the World Health Organisation and the America’s CDC report that symptoms of Omicron are usually mild.

The senior scientists and medics advising ministers are suffering from confirmation bias, where the seriousness of Covid-19 is treated as a given, and all evidence is interpreted to bolster that belief. Alternative interpretations of new evidence are ignored, as the likely evolutionary path of this type of upper respiratory tract infection to lesser virulence and greater infectivity. This inevitably leads to these advisers applying the precautionary principle and recommending both endless restrictions and recurring lockdowns.

It is high time our political leaders realised that their scientific advisers are not infallible and do not take into account the economy, the national debt, inflation, NHS waiting lists, delayed cancer screenings or the morale and mental health of the nation.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

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Cold shouldered

Where have colds and flu gone? To put the Covid figures into perspective, could we also have those for flu and the common cold? Surely good old fashioned influenza killed people in the days when we went out and about without fear? And are people with colds perhaps being accounted for as Covid sufferers?

There are too many fine lines here, and too much emphasis being placed on Covid. Influenza and the common cold did not require lockdowns and masks, and we came through their seasonal visits without 24-hour media attention.

It seems government is more concerned with the welfare of the NHS than with that of the people.

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Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Perth & Kinross

Promised land

In November 2020, John Swinney promised that the SNP would make free school meals “universal to all pupils” by August 2022. His only proviso was that his party was elected at the then upcoming election. They were duly elected. Now, in December 2021, an official Budget document reveals that the SNP/Green administration would not fulfil the pledge to pupils in P4 and P5. These kids, and pupils in P6 and P7, will have to wait until “later”. Looks like “long grass later”.

So much for the boast that the SNP would make Scotland the first country in the world to offer free meals to all pupils. It seems that this pledge has joined the “18-maximum class sizes” and “banishment of council tax” and many other pledges in the dustbin of SNP history.

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Notably, while this cut back in spending on our children is going on, the same Budget can find no problem providing a very large increase in the shadow – also known as pretendy – Scottish “embassies” overseas.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Free speech

A veritable Christmas feast of book reviews in Saturday’s Scotsman Magazine, but Joyce McMillan’s take on Gordon Brown’s Seven Ways to Change the World left a sour taste in my mouth. She lauded Nicola Sturgeon’s book of published speeches when it came out, so why give it a plug here? Each to their own, but If I needed a remedy for insomnia...Anyway, if she is looking for inspiring oratory I suggest checking out YouTube for Gordon’s Defence of the Union cracker on the eve of the 2014 Indyref. Unscripted, passionate, barnstorming, wow – that is what you call a speech!

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Andrew Kemp, Rosyth

Ugly truths?

The hugely costly efforts undertaken mainly by Western nations to combat manmade climate dangers are riddled with grotesqueries. None is more senseless than the UN's designation of China and India as developing nations. These powers clearly have no intention of decarbonising.

The grant to them of £1.5 billion organised by the UN, including the UK's £38 million contribution, will be wholly wasted in helping them to fail to fight future adverse climates. There is no evidence, let alone proof, of decarbonisation as effective prophylaxis. The scientifically weakly based blaming of rising atmospheric CO2 tensions is now being seriously questioned.

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Attention is shifting to the sun's waning activity promoting cosmic rays' enhancement of cloud formation from water vapour. Variations in these, especially of water vapour, are now suspected as being the main climate controllers.

The bulk of Earth's manmade CO2 is emitted by Eastern nations non-compliant with UN edicts. Their climate funding comes from the UN. Grotesque inconsistencies mark the huge costs of efforts to influence Earth's future climate. The costs of these endeavours, coinciding with vast outlays against the present Covid plagues, is the most bizarre of grotesqueries.

The ancient Greek proverb, “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad,” applies to our grotesque political leaders in the West.

Charles Wardrop, Perth

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Wrong target

So the owner of a small Scottish business, Michelle Maddox of Clootie McToot, receives multiple threats of violence and is labelled a traitor by Scottish nationalists for promoting her products at a festive food and drinks fair at 10 Downing Street, attended by the Prime Minister.Any reasonable person would congratulate her on her good fortune, be delighted she has an opportunity to promote her business in such a high profile way, to reach new markets, maybe grow her business and employ more staff in Abernethy, where her business is based.But it appears a conspicuous minority of Scottish nationalists don't think like a reasonable person. Their world is seemingly defined by parochialism and so any enterprising Scot looking towards the massive market south of the jurisdictional border must be vilified – with, presumably in this instance, the ultimate aim of breaking Ms Maddox's spirit and destroying her business.Boris Johnson doesn't float my boat either but Ms Maddox is out there promoting a Scottish brand and business, and helping drive her local economy. She is to be applauded, not abused.

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

Fish in a barrel

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I have to thank Gill Turner (Letters, 11 December) for quoting my name no fewer than three times. It’s good to know that someone reads what you write! Having said that, I can only apologise to her for taking the easy option of highlighting Nicola Sturgeon’s many failings. If the First Minister will persist in providing the ammunition for a “litany of criticism” then I am happy to keep highlighting them. Unlike Ms Turner, who would defend the SNP whatever the magnitude of their many failings, I have no desire or intention of trying to excuse Boris Johnson – as I thought my letter had indicated. I am able to judge actions on their merit or, as the FM keeps offering, their failings. Keep it up, Ms Turner, I like to know that someone reads my efforts.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Putin flexes

In response to Liv McMahon's article regarding the increase in Russian troops at the Ukraine border (9 December), while it would not be incorrect to say that the increase in troops is a way of them showing “strength in the face of what it views as increased hostility and deference to Ukraine from the US”, I think one of the key reasons Vladimir Putin has done this is to show strength and power in the face of the new Biden presidency. The US no longer have a confrontational leader who likes to assert power over other leaders, so Putin is taking an opportunity to show he is still a big fish in the global pond.

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Findlay Livingstone, Cambridge

Downhill racer

Kate Forbes’ Budget reveals just how precarious Scotland's finances actually are (your report, 10 December). As the handouts continue the revenue dries up. This is unsustainable. To compound this folly, Nicola Sturgeon's attitude to the Cambo oil field is having major repercussions. In essence the prospect of Scotland going its own way has been dealt a major blow by the very people suggesting independence. The surge of the Omicron variant has highlighted the need for Westminster support. Sturgeon now finds herself needing, again, to backtrack on her “promise” of indyref2 by 2023. It is downhill all the way from here.

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

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Home service

Two programmes I enjoy watching are Landward and Grand Tours of Scottish Lochs. In particular, I value the presenters of the programmes, Anne Lundon, Dougie Vipond and Paul Murton.There is no finer way of retaining the my sense of being Scottish than to hear the voices of these presenters.In particular may I mention Anne Lundon, and her islands accent. It reminds me of when I joined the Royal Navy in 1962 and a fellow recruit hailed from the Black Isle. I would get into conversation with him just to hear his melodious voice. Unfortunately, when I met him again a year later his accent had been watered down by those of so many from other parts of he country.

Charles Lowson, Fareham, Hants

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