WITH the high Covid rates we’ve seen in Scotland over recent months, we need to think more broadly about our approach to managing it. Vaccination and face masking remain important – so what else can we do?

First, we need more resources for people to self-isolate. With the best will in the world, self-isolation isn’t going to be successful if people simply cannot afford to do it. It’s no good telling people not to go to work if that’s going to leave their families hungry. The government needs to make financial support much easier to access, and for more people.

The impacts of Covid on people with a low-income can be significant. As such, a strategy to address the pandemic has to include enhanced attention to reducing poverty. Acting to reduce inequality is itself a means of addressing it.

Second, more resources for councils are necessary. This isn’t just for essential measures like improved ventilation – it’s also to support outdoor activities.

We’re fast approaching the time of year where many people would much rather be huddled up inside together than be outside in the cold and damp. Outdoor socialising, though, is far better for reducing the risk of catching Covid.

The solution? Tempt people to get outside, don’t just tell them to. In many cases councils need money to improve their green spaces, and to transform them into places where people are keen to spend their time.

Improve lighting, update play equipment, introduce public art: find out what local communities want to see in their parks and forests, and find a way to make it happen.

Third, more resources for research into the societal aspects of Covid are essential. What might this look like? Building on the excellent work conducted to-date, the government needs to directly sponsor more studies into people’s experiences of vaccination, testing, and self-isolation, and of accessing support through which to do so.

Politicians need to listen carefully to the findings and insights of social scientists conducting research on health and society, and actively solicit more advice and guidance from these experts. Importantly, politicians should adjust, or even rethink, their plans in light of these inputs. Otherwise, policymaking will be based what the government assume or hope are people doing, rather than what they actually are.

Covid is a complex problem, and our governments needs to be more ambitious and imaginative in terms of its social and economic policy agenda for how to tackle it.

Successfully tackling Covid means pushing for a fairer, more equitable society.

Professor Martyn Pickersgill is Chair of the Sociology of Science and Medicine, University of Edinburgh.