Readers' Letters: Governments must agree on strategy to supress Covid

With the World Health Organisation reporting on Monday that the UK has currently the highest number of Covid cases in the world, isn’t it time our governments agreed a strategy to suppress the virus?

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid at Wednesday's Covid press conference (Picture: Getty)

Instead they continue to pursue herd immunity, relying almost solely on the vaccine defence. This strategy is wreaking havoc with our NHS, already stretched to breaking point, with hospitals already full and an anticipated flu surge this winter.

The irony is that we almost got to elimination last summer, with daily cases in single figures in Scotland. Then we opened up foreign travel and let the delta variant in, with disastrous consequences. A future strategy needs to learn from countries like New Zealand (28 deaths out of 5 million people), with quarantining for those testing positive on entry, and South Korea (2,600 deaths out of 51 million people) with its advanced test and trace system and supported quarantining.

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Public health experts are “very worried” and claim that vaccines can’t defend on their own against such high transmission rates, with some citing a new delta plus mutation of concern in England. Deaths are the highest since March and here in Scotland cases are starting to rise, having bottomed out at around 2,500 a day, with more than 800 and rising in hospital. Given the state of our NHS, this is unsustainable and to avoid a lockdown the only way forward is to mandate distancing and mask wearing in indoor places, enforce testing at our borders, reinforce home working, more effective track and trace and supported quarantining.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid this week expressed pride in the vaccine rollout but he should hang his head in shame at his government’s record of 139,000 deaths, roughly equivalent to the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Learning from mistakes and from other countries clearly comes second to patting themselves on the back.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

‘Snub’ a blessing?

Surprise! Politicians placed the first two carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the North of England. The long-trailed levelling up strategy of Boris Johnston has seen the red wall constituencies all-right. The Scottish Government helped by making the decision easy for him.

It was Nicola Sturgeon who invited the Greens into coalition, who are both against CCS and economic growth. In addition, the First Minister’s refusal to cooperate with Westminster over other infrastructure upgrades (think freeports and roads) was a gift to the bid winners.

Also notable is the Scottish Government’s poor relationship with key active industrial players. Last week Ineos announced a £2 billion Green Hydrogen project in Germany. Could our government’s dishonest campaign against fracking have tipped the balance against similar investment at Grangemouth?

The demises of CSS in Scotland may, however, be a blessing in disguise. The technology is unproven at scale but will still heap unaffordable costs onto gas consumers. Green Hydrogen is another inefficient and uneconomic energy concept, so loved by the civil servants who bought into fragile wind power.

A more enlightened future sees Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) generating zero carbon power at source. Countries who master fission safely will be the first to exploit the unlimited potential of fusion. Scotland hosts the cooling core of a nuclear industry that still has valuable experience handling small nuclear submarine reactors.

Scotland has the potential to participate and win in the first SMR funding round, but we lack the necessary gumption in government. English/Welsh regions are again way ahead in the bidding stakes, with Scotland not even mentioned in the rumoured list of new sites.

Scots need to recognise that a legion of civil servants – all keeping themselves busy – doesn’t amount to an industrial strategy. If the Scottish economy is being hollowed out, it is by the hands of our own idle government.

Calum Miller, Prestonpans, East Lothian

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Ian Blackford labels UK Government 'active barrier' over carbon capture decision

Sheer hypocrisy

Ian Blackford MP declares his outrage in the Westminster Parliament that the UK government have not granted the funding to Scotland for the new carbon capture facility to be based in Scotland. He declares that the UK government is an “active barrier” to renewables.

This coming from a representative of the SNP who in the very recent past has declined funding from the UK government around the “UK Connectivity” review, and indeed, declined any involvement from the UK Government, and therefore funding, for the development of at least two Scottish freeports, likely to create thousands of jobs.

The well-worn and utterly discredited excuse offered by the SNP around a potential “power grab” simply has no credibility. Their decision to reject UK funding is simply predicated on their grievance culture. It never ceases to amaze me how the SNP manages to raise the bar from the highs they have achieved in contemptible hypocrisy.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Sharp tongue

The SNP needs to be far more constructive in its relationship with Westminster if we want to see realistic future investment in Scotland. If I were Boris Johnson, I would be remembering all of Nicola Sturgeon’s derisory comments on my ability and credibility, and would not be falling over with gratitude and pumping more billions into Scotland to be spent at the discretion of the SNP, on any issue it chooses.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Hot air

With the absence at COP26 of a key player, namely Russian President Vladimir Putin, of yet another country responsible for much of the climate crisis, where is the justification for the enormous carbon cost of bringing 30,000 delegates to “blah blah”in the United Kingdom, whose esteemed politicians are falling over backwards to reduce its almost infinitesimal contribution to global warming within a generational lifetime?

Clearly COP 26 is rapidly metamorphosing into COP Out 26!

The financial and hot air cost of what is now more than likely to turn out to be a fruitless exercise would be better deployed flying, for free, all climate activists and their super glue, to disrupt the lives of the absent leaders who are making the major contribution to climate change.

(Dr) SR Wild, Edinburgh

Better the devil

I recently read in the columns of The Scotsman that Italy had been ordered by the European Commission to revise the budget they had prepared for the coming year as it did not meet the criteria laid down by the European bureaucrats.

Is this what the people of Scotland can look forward to should they achieve Independence and membership of the European Union? Being told by the bureaucrats of Europe how to run our country?Better to be governed by the “de’il you know than the de’il you don’t.”

William Hope, Longniddry, East Lothian

Judge by actions

Hamish Trench, Chief Executive of Scottish Land Commission (SLC), writes in The Scotsman of 18 October that Green Lairds need to realise their responsibilities to communities, the inference being that they don’t, something not based on evidence or the reality of modern landownership. Unfortunately, we believe that this approach is common to a number of areas of work from the SLC.

Private, public, community and NGO landowners already play their part in combating climate change through policies such as increased woodland planting and restoration of our peatlands. It is unfortunate, however, that even the common goal we all share in improving our environment eventually comes back to land reform and arguments over ownership. No matter who the owner is, public engagement is important, but judging people on their actions, rather than our perceptions of them, is equally important.

Land-based business also understand that as markets and the environment changes, there is a constant need to evolve how land is used. The coming changes are highly complex and sometimes contradictory due to competing drivers for outputs from our land.

Reforming land law, policy and funding must have clear aims and be evidence led. In my view the aim of any reform is to secure a thriving future for rural communities and enhance our natural environment.

There is little time to lose and encouragement – rather than veiled criticism – should be given to landowners who will provide the significant financial investment required to deliver on ambitious climate change, biodiversity and economic which will benefit all of Scotland.

Mark Tennant, Chairman, Scottish Land & Estates, Musselburgh, East Lothian

Tartan luvvies

On a recent TV debate, a Scottish-born actor, long resident in the USA, cited Labour’s late leader, John Smith, in his argument for breaking up the UK. Brian Cox, although he no longer lives here, sees fit in effect to campaign for the nationalists in Scotland.

The fact that he is a millionaire, based in the US, who will not suffer any of the certain economic hardship and impoverishment that may well result for the less well-off should Scotland take such a course, appears to bother him little. Nor does the fact that John Smith was not in any way inclined towards the break-up of the UK and, like most of the Scottish intellectual giants of his era, abhorred Scottish nationalism

Brian Cox now joins the band of American-based ‘’celebrities,’’ all of whom love their country of birth so much they will do anything, anything, but live in it and suffer the certain economic consequences of what they propose.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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