Readers' Letters: How successful has vaccine roll-out been?

The strategy of gradual release of COVID-19 restrictions in the UK relies on the prediction that the highly touted vaccination roll-out will prevent, or at least mitigate any resultant rise in infection rates. However we now see evidence of a third wave in Scotland. Cases are surging especially in the most densely populated areas with Edinburgh and Glasgow now recording 7 day positive infection rates per 100,000 of 149.7 and 147 respectively, contrasting with the overall rate for Scotland of 88.1.

A member of the public receives a Covid vaccination at a car park in Glasgow (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

But paradoxically, vaccination rates are the lowest in any local authority in Scotland In Edinburgh 65.4 per cent of over 18 year-olds have received their first dose with 39 per cent receiving two doses. For Glasgow the figures are 66.2 per cent and 38.2 per cent respectively – rates substantially lower than the overall figures for Scotland (75.6 per cent and 50.1 per cent ). With such low vaccination rates, it is totally unsurprising that infection rates in both cities have been rising exponentially.

Immunisation rates in major cities should exceed those of the country as a whole – firstly because large population densities favour viral transmission indicating an urgent medical need, and secondly because the logistics of delivery are far simpler than in less densely populated areas. So what has gone wrong? Who has failed to monitor the roll-out effectively and invoke remedial action? Yes, we now hear of “surge vaccination”, but is this not a classic example of “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted”?

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So, no, the vaccine roll-out has not been the unqualified success that the government claims. A major aspect has been badly mishandled leading to increasing infection rates in the two largest cities which will inevitably lead to more hospital admissions and, sadly, some avoidable deaths.

(Prof) Richard Halliwell, Edinburgh

Covid success

According to Grant Frazer “we have a UK government mired in corruption and deceit where our PM lies with impunity” (Letters, 7 June). Would this be the same UK government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson which backed the AstraZeneca vaccine from the experimental stage to a not for profit contract, and supported a lauded vaccination programme which has already saved 13,000 lives in the UK alone, and is now used in 166 countries?

Last year to initiate vaccine development the UK government provided £900 million; last month the Business Secretary Alok Sharma backed the boffins at Oxford University and Imperial College London with a further £84m. Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca said " I would like to thank HM Government for its commitment to the vaccine and welcome its leadership and generosity for its help in expanding access beyond the UK".

William Loneskie, Lauder, Scottish Borders

Just a minute...

Last week in the Scotsman, the Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser recommended that future elections to Holyrood should be by proportional representation using the Single Transferable Vote system. At the same time, the Scottish Nationalist MP Kenny MacAskill was advocating Home Rule for Scotland within the United Kingdom. Both these proposals have been Liberal policy for many years and would do much to improve the divisive nature of the present political situation in Scotland.

David Hannay, Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries and Galloway

Unequal ‘war’

As a user of both cars and bikes to travel around, I am disappointed to see any breach of the rules of the road, and more enforcement is definitely a good thing. I have noted some correspondence with regards to bike users, and commentary regarding a “war on motorists”. Would these correspondents please try cycling for just a few days? You will find a courteous minority that give you the space you need, and you will give those drivers a friendly wave. You will find that there is a larger minority that shout abuse at you, overtake dangerously close, and/or turn left just in front of you. You will regularly see rubbish (including lit cigarette ends) thrown out of the vehicle into whatever is behind, which could be you. The state of the roadsides will horrify you, but you will soon become normalised to it.

The negative events, unfortunately, are daily occurrences, and whilst some moments can be heart-stopping, you will become accustomed to the bad behaviour.

You will need extra wits about you – there is no tonne of metal protection, seat belt pre-tensioners or umpteen air bags. You just have the polluted air that cars, vans and lorries produce.

And the conclusion you will come to is that motorists win the war each and every day.

Iain MacDonald, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

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Malta easers

Why is Malta not on the UK Green List for overseas travel? Their incidence of Covid is currently 7.5 per 100,000 compared to the UK at 27, Gibraltar is on the Green List at 23. We were told assessments were based on a range of factors, such as the proportion of the population vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants and reliable scientific data.To go to Malta one needs a negative test on arrival, a mandatory ten-day quarantine at home, and two more Covid tests (about £190). Malta is dependent on UK tourism and the Maltese government wonders, rightly, if political factors are at play, given the lowest Covid rate in the EU and one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.This is yet another example of Scotland being undermined by the UK Government wanting an all-British approach. When the pandemic began, in March 2020, we could not emulate a country of similar size like Denmark as we could not close our borders, stop flights coming in and impose a rapid lockdown. Deaths in Denmark are one third of Scotland's.

Today the Scottish Government seems all too willing to commit to an all-UK approach to the detriment of our travel industry ie our airports, the airlInes and travel agents. It would benefit Scotland to initiate unilaterally a mandatory vaccination passport. Pre-Covid, the tourism accounted for five per cent of GDP. While welcoming UK tourists who wish to staycation here, we must ease restrictions with those countries where incidence of Covid is far less than the UK, not just Gibraltar (size 2.6 sq miles). If not, certain airlines, whose business was so hard won by Scotland, may move away.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

Wild ideas

I refer to Steve Micklewright's article, “Rewilding is a beacon of hope”, (Scotsman, 5 June). He mentions the survey, commissioned by the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, in which 75 per cent of those who expressed an opinion supported rewilding. I would contend that this conclusion is not truly representative of the views of Scottish country dwellers, in particular those who live and work on the land, and those who risk their lives at sea to produce the high quality food on which our increasingly urbanised population depend. Mr Micklewright also states that rewilding “can be achieved with no loss of productive farmland”, another contentious issue.

Furthermore, his reference to beavers and lynx, however well-intentioned, can only add to the reservations of those who consider that rewilding must be approached with caution and sensitivity.

Iain M Thomson, Tain, Ross-shire

Enquiry within?

Nicola Sturgeon wants to see the terms of reference for a "four nations" Covid public enquiry before agreeing to participate. When they're published we'll know what the gold standard is and the standard a Scotland-only enquiry should follow. You'd think she'd welcome the chance to show how well she's done compared to the UK. The only way she can be forced into participating in the UK enquiry, or a Scottish copy, is if the Greens use their casting votes to force her. There's fat chance of that, a re-run of the Salmond enquiry is more likely.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Pivot point

Susan Dalgety (Perspective, 5 June) points out the very real danger of the right of free speech being outlawed in Scotland, illustrated by the plight of Marion Millar, who appears at Glasgow Sheriff Court in July.Women must be free to speak out against the false argument that the rights of trans men and the rights of women are mutually exclusive, and other misconceptions of this debate, without fear of state persecution.This is a pivotal moment for modern Scotland. The madness must stop before more women are harassed and threatened with imprisonment. It is no exaggeration to say that if Millar is convicted it may not be long before Dalgety will be receiving a knock on her door for writing the kind of perfectly reasonable article she penned for this newspaper on Saturday.

Jim Daly, Edinburgh

Rocketing costs

The furore over the cutting of Foreign Aid has left me with a dilemma. In principle I am in total agreement that richer countries should help poorer, and I was disappointed at the decision to cut the UK amount, however marginally.

Yet there are poor and poor countries. That Pakistan and India – both with full and horrendously expensive nuclear arsenals and developing space exploration programmes – could be among the biggest recipients of aid I find genuinely shocking. Surely aid going to these countries merely eases their problems with paying for their weapons.

So, rather than an across the board cut, perhaps a more focused approach would have been better and we would know the money would have been going to those in desperate need, not to help facilitate nuclear arsenals.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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