Letters: Futile policy based not on those ill with Covid, but on tests for the virus

·9-min read
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, explaining Covid data during an update on the pandemic - DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS /AFP
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, explaining Covid data during an update on the pandemic - DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS /AFP

SIR – It is astonishing that for 18 months public-health policy has been based not on those individuals who were actually ill with Covid-19, but rather those who merely tested positive for the virus (“Hospital Covid case numbers ‘misleading’”, report, July 30).

Dr J H F Smith
Retired consultant pathologist
Sheffield, South Yorkshire

SIR – The NHS now tells us that a significant proportion of patients in hospital with Covid were admitted because of a different condition. This is only known because the NHS is now officially admitting it and giving data.

Last year we learnt the word nosocomial in the context of Covid – meaning cases that originated in hospital. One cause of poor infection control in Britain is the continuing attachment of the NHS, even in new hospitals, to the dormitory wards of the Victorian charity hospitals that were taken over in 1948.

Will Amanda Pritchard, the new head of NHS England (report, July 29), do anything about nosocomial infections in hospitals?

Richard Jenkins
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

SIR – We appear to be sleepwalking into the next inevitable pandemic, almost exclusively preparing to react to it, not prevent it. Covid is not a once-in-a-hundred-year event or even just a once-in-a-generation event, as has been clearly articulated by Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

I have a hunch that President Biden’s 90-day review of Covid origins, due shortly, will give the nod to the “lab-leak” theory, and it is here we should focus our prevention efforts.

Across the world, over 3,000 labs with a million scientists are working on pathogens and are not regulated or policed. We have the framework within the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention to do this, but at present it is underfunded and unsupported at the United Nations. The British Government should strive to make this convention fit for purpose.

The number-one lesson from Covid-19 must be that we need to track epidemics to prevent them becoming pandemics. Britain leads the world in this type of technology, but we seem slow or even unwilling to invest in it.

We must act now to prevent the next pandemic, or go through this nightmare again in the near future.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon
Bio-security fellow, Magdalene College

SIR – Dr Anthony Hawks (Letters, July 29) suggests that unvaccinated people should be legally required to take out insurance to cover costs of care if they fall ill. What about those who are vaccinated and still fall ill and transmit the disease?

In an increasingly divided nation, his suggested approach would do nothing for social cohesion.

Angela Fiveash
Cobham, Surrey

A high-vis crime plan

SIR – One aspect of the Prime Minister’s Beating Crime plan (report, July 26) is to set offenders to work on community clean-up projects, wearing high-visibility vests, to demonstrate to the public that justice is being done.

A similar project has actually been in place since 2005. The fact remains that offenders, working together in high-vis clothing, are more likely to feel humiliated than rehabilitated.

Many community projects are carried out by unpaid volunteers. Offenders could be given the chance to join appropriate projects, without the high-vis. Working and mixing with the volunteers, they would have a greater chance of rehabilitation than by working with other offenders.

Oliver Reynolds
Wokingham, Berkshire

SIR – Yet again, the Government has declared war on crime. Ministers must think we have short memories.

I recall that Michael Howard, as Home Secretary, proposed that gangs of offenders were going to clear graffiti until it was realised that they would have to work with toxic chemicals. The scheme never saw the light of day.

Neighbourhood policing was also popular. I still have the contact details issued by my personal constable, who then disappeared.

As prime minister, Tony Blair was also going to be “tough on crime” and “the causes of crime”.

John Catchpole
Beverley, East Yorkshire

Burnt-out cook

SIR – Belinda Stevens-Fairchild (Letters, July 28) obviously hasn’t been cooking meals for her family for as long as I have.

Since I married in June 1967, 19,779 days have passed. I’ll be generous and discount the 779 – for holidays and a few dinner treats out. Even so, cooking two meals a day adds up to my having prepared about 38,000 dishes from fresh meat, fish, dairy products and home-grown vegetables.

Now I’m bored, and my eyes and my appetite are a-goggle with tasty ready-made meals from the best supermarkets.

Jacquie Lawson
Lurgashall, West Sussex

Cornish cottage

SIR – Yet again the spurious argument has been made that holiday homes harm local people (Tanya Gold, Features, July 28).

I own a tiny cottage in Cornwall, which I saved from dereliction. It has one room downstairs, two up and no road access.

The building work was all done by local craftsmen using local, often recycled, materials. It is occupied most of the year by me, family or holidaymakers, all of whom patronise the village shops, pubs and restaurants.

The Cornish are always ready to take our money, then complain that their economy is dependent on tourism. They would do well to realise that they would all be out of work without it.

David Nunn
West Malling, Kent

Women at the wheel

SIR – I am relieved that Aston Martin has ruled out making cars aimed at the female market (report, July 28), which would be incredibly patronising.

However, I would ask manufacturers to consider the need for a secure home in every car for a handbag. Having a loose bag rolling around is both dangerous and distracting.

Geraldine Wills
Chaffcombe, Somerset

Electric car battery life

SIR – It is estimated that a 100kWh battery for a Tesla Model S will, after 1,000 cycles, retain 80 per cent of the effectiveness it had when new. Its performance can be improved by not letting the battery discharge completely and then recharging it to 100 per cent every time (which is what a “cycle” is).

With this in mind, Andrew Chantrill’s calculations (Letters, July 30) regarding vehicle-to-grid charging are inaccurate. No company would manufacture a car where the battery can only be cycled 1,000 times before becoming virtually useless.

Moreover, “smart charging” does not mean that a public charge point only works during off-peak hours, as Mr Chantrill says. It simply means you pay less. The chargers would be perfectly operable during other times.

Bernard Sulek
Chepstow, Monmouthshire

Olympic runners-up

SIR – It is gratifying to see winners of a silver or bronze medal at the Olympics appreciate their achievement, often with an outpouring of emotion. What a contrast to the miserable footballers in each of this year’s major men’s finals, including the Euros, most of whom removed runners-up medals in disdain, devaluing their efforts and disrespecting the winners.

David Coverdale
Leeds, West Yorkshire

SIR – The BBC’s Olympics presenters may have suffered from a lack of live pictures, but they have been hugely disrespectful to athletes who have spent years of self-sacrifice to reach the pinnacle of sport. They laugh at their own smug cleverness and make demeaning comments.

The lack of insight and knowledge of the various sports is embarrassing.

K A C Jeffery
Plymouth, Devon

Reliable grannies

SIR – When I was invited to return to work by my news editor son, who was desperate for some reliable reporters, I and a colleague of similar age and experience were referred to as Granny One and Granny Two (“Chic modern grandmas are a far cry from the fusty stereotype”, Comment, July 30).

This wasn’t impertinence but a fond recognition by the youngsters of our status as experienced matriarchs from whom they could learn a thing or two.

Geraldine Durrant
East Grinstead, West Sussex

Choosing a pet is not like buying a new toaster

‘Due to Covid’, animal charities will not let future owners meet a pet before adopting it - Alamy
‘Due to Covid’, animal charities will not let future owners meet a pet before adopting it - Alamy

SIR – Following a sad feline bereavement a couple of months ago, I am starting to explore adopting another rescue cat.

Unfortunately, “due to Covid” the system has changed for both the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Cats’ Protection, two major charities I have used in the past.

You choose your cat based on website pictures and descriptions, only meeting when you collect it. In my opinion, only an irresponsible owner could agree to taking on a pet unseen. Aren’t these the very charities that tell you not to buy pets on the internet?

Dr Hilary Aitken
Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire

Kiwi onions fill a gap between British seasons

SIR – Onions grown in Britain (Letters, July 29) are harvested from late June to the end of September. They are then cured for two or three weeks, after which they are stored in a controlled atmosphere before going in the shops from mid July to the end of May.

High-quality onions are brought over from New Zealand to fill any gaps between the seasons, but the quantity has dropped dramatically over the past 10 years as British growers have improved their storage methods.

I am now retired from the industry, but I understand that demand through the Covid period was extremely high and this could be why more onions have been imported this year than in the previous few years.

David Hodgson
Frampton, Lincolnshire

SIR – Not only onions from New Zealand but garlic from China … in Morrisons.

Jane Hambleton
Weymouth, Dorset

SIR – The complaint by your reader Eileen Wale about flying onions half way round the world is, on an individual basis, easy to resolve.

She should buy some onion sets from a garden centre and grow them at home, planting them in January or February. Likewise garlic.

Richard Peace
Aisby, Lincolnshire

SIR – I wonder why our Co-Op, which claims to stock local produce, sells mangetout from China.

Caroline Osborne
Elmswell, Suffolk

SIR – If it’s any consolation to Eileen Wale, here in New Zealand I am using moist wipes made in Britain. My only other options are wipes made in China or America.

If we are to save the planet from our massive transport waste, we are all going to have to reconnect with long-lost manufacturing. Didn’t it make Britain great in the first place?

And no, I don’t flush my wipes.

David Conroy
Christchurch, New Zealand

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