THERE is a crushingly cruel logic re the coronavirus pandemic that seems not to be fully appreciated and perhaps an extreme scenario to make the point would help in this regard.

If everyone in the UK stayed indoors until a vaccine or cure is discovered for Covid-19 there would be no deaths attributable to the disease. Fact. However, as soon as one person breaks that restriction, the odds change, by however small a degree. Fact. Multiply that one person by any number and the odds of transmission begin to shorten exponentially. Fact. The now infamous R number is just a reflection of those odds.

The obvious conclusion, however unpalatable, is that any move whatsoever away from total isolation, in whatever set of circumstances in respect of social distancing, PPE equipment, hand washing, masks, and so on, will cause that R number to increase. And such a scenario will remain the case until a vaccine/cure is produced. Fact.

An obvious corollary of this is that the virus will spread, the population will become infected, people will die. Therefore, current strategies, however well-intentioned, are merely ways of seeming to be doing something positive when, in fact, denying the virological evidence from the scientific community. In other words, no matter what Boris Johnson or Nicola Sturgeon tell us, without a vaccine, any loosening of current restrictions in the direction of "opening up" the country will, without doubt, lead to fatalities. Fact. Perhaps, as in any struggle, this a price society is willing to accept. Who knows?

However, the political, economical, social and personal cost of any measures are, of course, quite a different matter. But they will not, cannot, change the facts of this pandemic's reproduction trajectory. It is said that we are "at war" with this disease and we know that people die in wars. Yet apparently the first casualty of war is truth. So maybe a sad dose of truthful reality might help us all to grasp, to deal with, but most vital of all, to cultivate the patience required to defeat the horror that is coronavirus.

Gerard McCulloch, Saltcoats.

SCIENCE is simply defined as a body of knowledge acquired by measurement, repeated measurement, precise measurement. Mathematics is considered Queen of Science.

Scientists giving advice about Covid-19 management are unable to measure, with laboratory support, incidence or prevalence in the living community. A further difficulty arises in the deceased community due to lack of precision (lack of validity) of definition of cause of death. Certified involvement (death certificate) of Covid-19 in causing an individual's death may be a scientific statement, with technical (laboratory) support, but may be no more than a guess which may be plausible rather than credible.

Politicians who lean upon scientists for advice must bear in mind that the quality of the advice given and received is no better than the reliability of the sources of the data utilised. Those who lack scientific training, such as politicians trained in law, may demonstrate excessive trust in what a scientist unwisely alleges. Unfortunately, at the present time many politicians are experienced only in politics and are vulnerable to charlatans.

Dr William Durward, Bearsden.

The BBC Disclosure programme quoted scientists whose modelling suggested that more than 2,000 Covid-19 deaths could have been prevented if Scotland had gone into lockdown two weeks earlier ("‘I won’t play Russian roulette with Covid-19’", The Herald, May 12).

However, for that to have happened Scotland would have needed to be a normal independent country in control of finance, welfare plus our borders and air transport rather than be wedded to a bumbling and shambolic Westminster Government.

On January 30 Boris Johnson ignored the WHO declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and on March 3 dismissed the pandemic as not medically rational, which has resulted in the UK having the highest number of Covid-19 deaths per head of population in the world and trashed the UK economy with the loss of one million jobs.

We don’t know whether Nicola Sturgeon received the same medical and scientific advice as Boris Johnson, but she has certainly handled the situation much better and been more straightforward with the public.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh EH9.

NOT very long ago, Nicola Sturgeon told us that she would enter into a grown-up conversation with the Scottish public about coronavirus. So far it appears to consist of "shut up and do what you are told", but we can hope that it will eventually begin.

When it does, a good start would be to be informed whether Scotland is to have its own Covid Alert Level, which seems to be a useful tool in the battle to get out of lockdown. Crucially, it also would allow us to come to our own conclusions as to whether the measures in place at any time are necessary and proportionate.

Or does the First Minister not think we are grown up enough to handle such information?

Peter A Russell, Glasgow G13.

RUTH Marr (Letters, May 12) recommends to readers that during the phased release from Covid lockdown if you happen to live in Scotland we should listen to Nicola Sturgeon for national guidance.

If there is indeed statistical medical evidence justifying Scotland following a different exit programme from England and indeed other nations within the UK, an obvious question is raised.

Where does the argument for the issue being directed by local circumstance end? There are fairly obvious and rational reasons why pubs and restaurants in Scotland should all reopen at the same time. However. if the fall in the rate of contagion is consistently and significantly different across areas of Scotland perhaps it should be left to local authorities to decide, on the evidence, when their own schools should reopen.

The latest results from the National Records of Scotland indicate that in terms of deaths involving Covid per 10,000 of the population, people residing in Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board areas are the worst hit by the virus. However Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are relatively least affected. I would suggest that schools in these three areas could reopen before the schools in very badly affected authorities such as Inverclyde.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

NICOLA Sturgeon determines that Scotland requires different, more restrictive Covid-19 lockdown criteria to England because the circumstances are different. Fair enough, but that same logic applies to areas within Scotland, such as the islands, where virus cases have been relatively light.

Somewhat ironically perhaps, the new English restrictions are more relevant to the present situation in Orkney than the Edinburgh-imposed ones.

James Miller, Kirkwall.

READING Guy Stenhouse's article (“Leaders must show courage in the lifting of lockdown”, Herald Business, May 11) I was not surprised by the points made, coming from the financial perspective as they did. They followed neatly on from the UK Prime Minister’s broadcast on Sunday evening and pointed to the direction to be taken on the Monday.

I was, however, shocked by its later tone and lack of empathy shown towards a workforce thrown back at short notice to an environment which may not be fully prepared for this and social issues arising such as childcare. It went on, it seemed, to weigh and to evaluate the limited contribution of those most vulnerable to the virus by stressing the lower death rates in younger people who could now return to work and contribute to economic recovery. It alluded to lifestyle behaviours among some of these vulnerable groups and apportioned blame for the consequences of these in the current crisis to those suffering from drug and alcohol dependence and even cake consumption, presumably in light of the consequences of obesity.

At a point in our history when the positives arise from the care and compassion of those caring for those affected by Covid-19, be it in the NHS, care at home or in homes and by that section of the workforce still involved in food production and delivery and sales, plus our postal workers and refuse collectors and many others, often in jobs which are not highly paid, statistics only contribute to one part of the whole picture and to the decisions to be taken in these challenging times.

Margo Biggs, Falkirk.

MARIANNE Taylor bemoans the fact that tone of lockdown debates constantly needs “to judge the motives of others within an ideological context” (“Garden centres are places of harmony… not hatred”, The Herald, May 11). As I pointed out recently, we have had, for a decade in Scotland and for almost a similar period across the whole of the UK, political leaders who have made ideological causes the central plank of their drive for power, and the bedrock of their policies once in power. In doing so, they have fostered an atmosphere where binary, ideological argument is the order of the day.

It can surely be of no surprise to Ms Taylor that almost every issue in UK politics is thus framed? If, when discussing garden centres, independence or Brexit, one side says black, it’s an absolute given that the other will say white.

I fear this trend may continue for a generation.

Stuart Brennan, Glasgow G44.

I WONDER what the UK Government's response will be when the country finally emerges from this horrendous period. Will Priti Patel continue with her policy of only accepting so-called professional immigration and remove "unskilled" workers who have in some cases died keeping the country going – cleaners, bus drivers, hospital staff, hospitality staff, security staff and the like?

Charles Thomson, Glasgow G53.

I AM pleased to see that (in Scotland) we are now recommended to "Stay at Home" rather than the unidiomatic "Stay Home". I know we go home, but when did we ever stay home? Is this an American import, or something dreamt up by one of Boris Johnson’s advisors?

Helen Ross, Bridge of Allan.

Read more: Letters: Neither Johnson nor Sturgeon has got the message right