Letter to Scottish MSPs: don’t give up on Covid suppression!

The Scottish Government has had an official policy of maximum suppression of Covid-19 infections. But this appears to be being ditched and replaced with what we can only describe as a “let the virus rip as long as there are enough ICU beds” strategy. This is what several media reports now suggest, couching the new plan as looking at hospitalisation, mainly ICU admissions, and no longer at case numbers when lifting restrictions further.

Ditching efforts to contain infections would be catastrophic without the population being fully vaccinated, inevitably leading to large numbers of people developing Long Covid, and many of them developing long-term disabilities. Furthermore, the UK government’s advisory committee SAGE warned earliy in May that, if the new variant is 40-50% more transmissive (as it may well be), the recent lifting of restrictions across England (similar to those in Scotland) is likely to lead to a resurgence in hospitalisation similar or larger than that during previous Covid waves. Public Health England have released some very worrying news about the new variant (you can read all about it here).

Please help to stop the Scottish government from giving up on Covid suppression for the sake of short-term political expediency!

Please email your MSPs and urge them to call on the Government to strengthen, not abandon, action to suppress the virus.  You can find the email addresses of your MSPs here, and there is a suggested letter format at the end of this email.

Draft letter to MSPs:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am deeply concerned to read in the media that Health Minister Humza Yousaf is looking at changing Scotland’s Covid policy so as to lift restrictions according to numbers of patients in ICUs, regardless of infections and possibly even hospitalisations, both of which are rising once again.

Until now, the Scottish Government’s stated goal is to suppress infections, and decisions on restrictions are largely based on that. Looking only at hospital, especially ICU figures, in effect means letting the virus rip across the population, with less than 35% fully vaccinated.

I would ask you to urgently call on Minister Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon to abandon this dangerous idea.

Prolonged restrictions are difficult for everybody, but the answer must be to do more to get infections under control, not give up on suppression. Other countries have for example, successfully reduced cases by focussing heavily on ventilation in workplaces, schools, and public places, including hospitality, as well as strengthening masks mandates, given the World Health Organisation’s recent finding that the virus is airborne. Giving up on suppression would mean:

  • Condemning thousands more to Long Covid: The Office of National Statistics estimated that, as of early March 2021, 1.1 million people were living with Long Covid, and tens of thousands of them had been suffering with this for more than one year (tinyurl.com/cd9vau5v);
  • Going against the advice of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Advisory Group which, according to its latest published minutes from 21st April, stressed the need to “learn from previous waves and get case numbers as low as possible to reduce the risk of harm from further variants arising, which might undermine the vaccination campaign” (gov.scot/publications/scottish-government-covid-19-advisory-group-minutes-15-april-2021/);
  • Ignoring warnings from both the UK Government’s advisory committee SAGE and the Independent SAGE, who have been warning of a risk of a large new wave of hospitalisations and death if restrictions are lifted too rapidly and without regard to keeping infections as low as possible. SAGE warned earlier this month that, the new variant could be up to 50% more transmissible and that if it even 40% more transmissible, the recent lifting of restrictions across England (similar to those in Scotland) is likely to lead to a resurgence in hospitalisation similar or possibly much larger than that during previous Covid waves, even without any additional vaccine escape: tinyurl.com/4cxufc3c. Yet this weekend, Public Health England has changed its risk assessment of the variant first identified in India, to high risk for vaccine escape (especially for making partial vaccination less effective, having classed it as high risk for being more transmissible earlier already (tinyurl.com/bdtaxkzr).

The more that the virus is allowed to breed the greater the chance of new variants, against which existing vaccines may be even less effective.

Many thanks in advance for making representations about this to the Scottish Government.

Yours faithfully,

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