Friday, 29 May 2020

Scotland, Coronavirus and 'Herd Immunity'

Iain Macwhirter writes regularly for The Herald and Sunday Herald and is spot on with this tweet in which he points out that the Scottish Government was, until very recently, following a policy of 'herd immunity' in relation to Coronavirurus. 


Coronavirus - Then and Now (28/05/20)

Here's an interesting Channel 4 interview with Scotland's national clinical director, Jason Leitch who was speaking on behalf of the Scottish Government on 16 March 2020, the week before the current lockdown was imposed. 

Here are some key points that jump out to me, albeit with the benefit of hindsight which was not available to the decision-makers at the time: 

  • Original prediction was that 80% of the population would become infected with most suffering mild symptoms
  • NHS staff testing - but only if showing symptoms
  • No mention of care staff or hospital patients discharged to  care homes or their own homes
  • Scotland has adequate testing in place
  • Scotland and the rest of the UK in the context of World Health Organisation (WHO) advice 
  • Contact with the elderly and other vulnerable groups
  • Spread of the Coronavirus by people with no symptoms 
  • The importance of social distancing - at the right moment
  • The impact of lockdown measures on Scotland's care homes 
  • Part of the strategy was to develop herd immunity because "you can't get rid of the virus"
  • Contact tracing was dropped in Phase 2 as part of the agreed UK wide strategy 
Now I make no personal criticism of Mr Leitch because he was putting across a very carefully crafted message on behalf of the Scottish Government which politicians turned into public policy having weighed up the best available scientific evidence.

Yet it seems crystal clear, even now, that a major weakness of the agreed government strategy was the role played in spreading the virus far and wide - by people who were already infected without showing any symptoms of Covid-19.

I would also say that government lost sight of the need to make social care and care homes as big a priority as the NHS. 

But do make time listen to Jason Leitch's Channel 4 interview and decide for yourself.