I NOTE AW Frame's letter (February 1) regarding emergency planning.

Pandemic scenarios have been run and planned for at every level of government for many years, given a flu pandemic was anticipated. One example took place in 2009.

The information given included the aims and objectives of the exercise and also the following:

"The world may be on the brink of another highly pathogenic influenza pandemic. All countries will be affected. Widespread illness will occur. Medical supplies will be inadequate. Large numbers of deaths will occur. Economic and social disruption will be great."

Towards the end of the exercise a scenario was posed which included lots of information, some of which was:

"In mid-October an outbreak of an unusually severe respiratory illness is identified in a small village in southern China. Throughout the latter part of October and early November local outbreaks of this novel virus were reported in cities around the world with its spread being accelerated and promoted by the ease of global air travel. However it is not anticipated that a usable vaccine will be developed for between four to six months. Supermarkets are reporting heavier than usual business with shoppers buying tinned and dried goods, and are reporting local shortages on some commodities where they simply cannot replace stocks fast enough. The first UK case is identified in Glasgow in the last week of November.

"It is now mid-December and nationally the impact has begun to be felt in earnest. Shortages of workers in key industries are having a national effect.

"It is now mid-March, incidents of illness are dropping and the first wave of the pandemic is at an end. A total of three peaks of illness over an 18-month period with possible increased severity in later waves is expected."

No-one should have been taken by surprise by the pandemic and the necessary (and basic infectious disease) controls should have been put in place seamlessly and quickly (and much to the annoyance of the public and business and to the opposition of many politicians).

Given the provisions for control were and are known and they were simply not implemented when they needed to be, it's difficult to identify those new lessons that actually need to be learned other than it being a useful exercise in deflection.

Colin Clark, Inverness IV2.


LISTENING to our Scottish politicians, from all parties, it is evident that we have over-personalised our analysis and examination of our pandemic responses, in health and finance.

The First Minister is seen as being personally responsible for all services delivered, or mis-delivered, across Scotland and this is reinforced by our parliamentary proceedings and the daily briefings. However, in reality, policy and operational actions are formulated, detailed and undertaken by officials of government departments, councils and boards along broad objectives.

Each political party will use the same structure, legislation and staff once in power: will advice be different if the politician are different? Would the Tories, Labour, Greens and Liberals do anything differently?

I wish the SNP had used a multi-political approach in tackling the pandemic: pointless posturing on all sides might gave been avoided.

Allan McDougall, Neilston.


URGENT testing for the South African coronavirus variant is taking place in areas of southern England where another dangerous variant has already been detected. These can be no doubt that Covid-19 will mutate further into other virulent variants. To invite some 30,00 participants, plus media, plus others, to COP26 in Glasgow while this pandemic is raging round the globe is beyond reckless.

The UK might be well on the way to vaccinating a majority of the populace by then, but we cannot know how effective this vaccine will be to new variants not yet identified. Much of the world will not be inoculated by November, so this conference should be digital, not face-to-face.

Boris Johnson has shown he is both impetuous and reckless where his own health is concerned, but the whole of the UK should not be placed at risk for the sake of Mr Johnson's narcissistic need to host a conference which, with modern technology, can easily take place online.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


AMID increasing calls for the UK to share its coronavirus vaccine with poorer countries, one mustn't forget that Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister of the UK has a primary obligation to safeguard the wellbeing of its people. His position would be untenable and there would be an outcry if the UK gave away doses of the vaccine while people in the UK were still dying because of the unavailability of the vaccine.

Once the UK population is protected, surplus vaccine should be donated to poor countries, an excellent way to spend the controversial foreign aid budget and one which surely few people would object to.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.


FROM day 1, the First Minister said that the vaccine roll-out would be dependent on the availability of vaccines being supplied by the UK Government. Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon would like to explain why 50 per cent of the vaccine allocation to Scotland is sitting in storage awaiting drawdown or sitting in freezers here in Scotland. Vaccines don’t protect the public from Covid, vaccinations do.

The Scottish Government has dragged its heels in this rollout. There was no reason not to vaccinate in care homes and in the community simultaneously as they would not be carried out by the same staff.

Rather than spending time "refining" targets, the Scottish Government should spend more time getting the vaccines into arms.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


WR McCrindle (Letters, January 28) highlighted that the UK's horrific Covid-19 death toll of over 100,000 from a population of 67 million was worse than the American death toll of over 425,000 from a population of 328 million. This was despite the UK having one of the best public health services in the developed world, while the US has one of the worst. Neither nation can be congratulated on political control of the pandemic.

There are many reasons why the spread of Covid-19 and related death tolls varies from one country to another. One reason, often of limited importance, is quite the opposite when comparing the UK and US; namely population, both density and distribution. Both countries have an overall urban population of about 80 per cent, but there much of the similarity ends, for reasons of basic geography.

The US is one of the largest countries in the world, while the UK is a small country. Indeed, the UK would fit at least twice into the area of Texas, second-largest state out of 50 in the US. The UK apparently has an average population density per square kilometre of about 260, compared to under 40 in the US.

Within the UK there is considerable interaction/virus transmission between different parts of our relatively small country. However, in the US the population in the west is largely confined to a narrow strip along the coast from Californian cities in the south to Seattle in the north. Hundreds or thousands of miles away across the Rocky Mountains, and beyond an underdeveloped interior, more than half the US population lives to the east of the Mississippi River including in the highly-populated states of Florida and New York. When those from east and west meet in person, this is presumably mainly by air travel which in itself would influence the spread of the virus.

Simplistic comparisons of countries are to be avoided, especially when designed to undermine travel restrictions and lockdown, though this was not the case with Mr McCrindle's letter. Our apparent vaccination success may see the UK death toll fall below that of the US in relation to population. Ultimately, however, the end of the pandemic will only be achieved when the spread of the vaccines is engineered to meet global needs.This does not appear to be imminent.

Mrs F Greenlaw, Balloch.


WHEN we are repeatedly told the pandemic is being well managed, I think of scotch eggs, blue envelopes, badges, clapping, the lack of PPE for an oft-predicted pandemic, breaches of rules by MPs and MSPs and the exceptions made for the elite, and I think we might be better resorting to prayer. But they’ve closed the churches too. So what hope do we have?

We will clearly have to tolerate Covid for a while but why do we have to put up with such obviously poor leaders who would give snake oil salesmen a bad name? Especially those who think there is any need at all for constitutional changes during a pandemic.

John Dunlop, Ayr.

Read more: We need to be assure that lessons will be learned