Letters: No circuit-breaker would beat Covid, but it would inflict more economic and human suffering

Letters to the Editor
·12 min read
The Liverpool City Region, comprising 1.6 million people, is in tier three, by which the harshest level of Covid restrictions are imposed -  Peter Byrne/PA
The Liverpool City Region, comprising 1.6 million people, is in tier three, by which the harshest level of Covid restrictions are imposed - Peter Byrne/PA

SIR – I cannot understand why anyone is seriously recommending a two or three week lockdown as a circuit breaker to help control Covid-19. All that would do is to delay coronavirus. The people who refuse to wear masks or keep socially distanced will continue to do so, and the virus will still be in the population when the lockdown is lifted.

Meanwhile, more damage will have been done to the economy, more small businesses will have collapsed, and people in areas of low risk will have put their lives on hold for nothing.

This virus will not go away, so we have to learn to live with it. Herd immunity will help, even if we do not know how long it will give protection.

Of course the numbers are going up. We are testing many more people than we were in the spring, so more cases are being detected. Students have gone back into education, people have been on holiday and have also been going back to work, and the weather is getting colder and damper.

Though one might not believe it from the media, the situation is much better than it was in spring.

Alison Day
Camberley, Surrey

 

SIR – Much fuss is currently being made over the Government’s decision to ignore Sage’s advice for a national “circuit-breaker” lockdown, to avoid “catastrophic consequences”.

There is a simple answer to this row. Publish the modelling on which Sage’s advice was based. If it is correct, the Government would do well to heed it. If incorrect, it would serve as a reminder that we are led by elected politicians, not scientists.

Chris Mastin-Lee
Goatacre, Wiltshire

 

SIR – The average number of deaths in the UK pre-Covid was 10,000 per week; that figure is currently around 8,000. The number of weekly deaths recorded since the end of July with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate is less than 200 per week. How can the Government justify taking away all of our liberties, and why are we accepting it?

Each day, a breakdown of figures should show what people are dying of – whether it is coronavirus, cancer, diabetes or heart disease – to put the Government’s response to Covid into context. If we were given the facts, we would be queuing for tests for diseases other than Covid. There is no logic to any of this.

Christine Brown
Richmond, Surrey

SIR – On Wednesday, my phone flashed an alert from the NHS Covid app informing me that my postcode was in the medium-alert tier.

Meanwhile, my wife, on the other side of the table, was told she was in the high-alert tier. Should I be worried?

James Barry
Stokesley, North Yorkshire

 

SIR – The Government needs to be honest with us. What is the plan if a vaccine doesn’t appear? Ministers are aware that one may not be widely available for years, so why are they stringing us along?

The definition of madness applies to the latest lockdown: it didn’t work last time and it won’t work now either. Suppression is not eradication. We will not put up with this way of life indefinitely. Vulnerable people are not unintelligent and are well able to manage their own risk. For the most vulnerable, targeted protection is needed while the rest of the population carries on and lives with the virus, as we live with numerous other contagious diseases.

Lynda Moran
Southwell, Nottinghamshire

 

SIR – All the information implies that we are putting off the impact of the virus for possibly 28 days – just in time to let it loose for Christmas.

I don’t want that after enduring a tier three lockdown in Merseyside.

John Bergin
Oxton, Wirral

 

SIR – We are indeed living in strange times. I never thought I would be cheering for a Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Douglas M H Crook
Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire

 

Sluggish shipbuilding

SIR – Britain’s marine business (Letters, October 15) has not developed like that of our competitors across the North Sea and elsewhere, primarily because it has not been understood by government for decades.

Shipbuilding involves procurement, integration, scheduling and assembly of many parts and systems. The value of a modern specialist ship is derived from the contents being more valuable than the hull. The suppliers of the contents vary in size and stretch across Britain, so the greater value is transferred into the supply chain, whether it is design, project management, hydraulics, refrigeration, compressors or electrical distribution panels. A specialist ship typically will last 30 years, so support from suppliers will also last that time.

Apart from naval ships, shipbuilding in Britain has been almost entirely ignored. This need not be so. Regular orders from the Government for research and support ships will ensure that subcontractors continue to thrive, and lead to export business for their specialities. Stop-start is commercially unsustainable and creates extra costs for naval ships built in Britain.

Government procurement decisions must take account of the benefits of employment, skill retention and development, the countrywide supply chain and taxation. Making decisions based solely on the tendered cost from somewhere else mightily disadvantages this country.

Whether classified as warships or not, the Fleet Solid Support Ships that have been considered for some time should be built in Britain.

Gregory Darling
Co-Chair, Marine Industries Leadership Council
Swannington, Norfolk

 

Blood supply

SIR – As someone who is dependent on regular blood transfusions, I would like to pay tribute to our magnificent blood-donor service. Thanks to volunteers, I have experienced no shortage of supply, and the Christie hospital in Manchester has maintained my treatment in a safe environment. This is a world-class service indeed.

Trevor C Russell
Buxton, Derbyshire

 

Dressed to distress

SIR – I cannot believe that Tyrrell Hatton (Sport, October 12) was allowed to play at a championship golf event at Wentworth in a hoodie.

Brian Earle
Felpham, West Sussex

 

Measured merriment

SIR – My wife is returning a batch of Christmas cards because she opened them to discover that the greetings inside were too relentlessly merry.

Is it too late to produce some Covid-appropriate cards?

Peter Harrison
Altrincham, Cheshire

 

Men of war who took to the art of knitting

A lifetime’s art on the Peruvian island of Taquile in Lake Titicaca, where only men knit - Bartosz Hadyniak/Photodisc
A lifetime’s art on the Peruvian island of Taquile in Lake Titicaca, where only men knit - Bartosz Hadyniak/Photodisc

SIR – Eleanor Steafel’s feature on the rise of the male knitter (October 13) reminds me that, in the late Forties and early Fifties when my father was commuting by train to his work on the Naval War Diaries at the Admiralty, he often shared a compartment with Winston Churchill’s private secretary Sir John (“Jock”) Colville.

They would pass the long and tedious journey with needlework such as knitting and tapestry, which was my father’s hobby.

Hew Goldingham
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex

 

SIR – My father, the neatest knitter in the family, born in the 1880s in rural Kent, was taught to knit by his sisters while walking miles to school. They knitted socks.

He became a professional soldier, served in the Horse Artillery in the First World War, and was not the only knitter among the men.

When I was growing up, his speciality was finely knitted winter vests, using two-ply “baby” wool and Sylko sewing thread to make them easily washable.

Patricia Courtney
London E11

 

SIR – A large, florid middle-aged gentleman with fingers like sausages once cornered me at a boozy party and told me in his Etonian accent at great length about his hobby – petit point.

When I rang my hostess to thank her for the evening, she told me my captor was a very eminent eye surgeon, who did indeed do beautiful and intricate needlework to keep him nimble for the minute stitching his profession demanded.

It is believed that the first knitters were fishermen, extending their skill of mending nets – and they weren’t sissies. Keep up the old tradition, macho men.

Janice R S Sinclare
London N12

 

Flu vaccination organised with hardly a scratch

SIR – To arrange my flu vaccination (Letters, October 14), my GPs’ surgery sent me a bar-coded letter, followed up by a text reminder, to attend on Saturday morning between 9am and 9.30am, wearing a short-sleeved shirt and face covering.

I was greeted in heavy rain by a mask-wearing member of staff, who took my letter and told me to take my jacket off on my way into the surgery and to follow the markings on the floor.

Once I was inside, the doctor, kitted out with a mask and visor, was ready to receive me and within one minute I was back out on the street, having exited by a side door.

I could not have been more impressed by the efficiency of the surgery staff. If this is repeated elsewhere then there will be no problems with queues.

Doug Barber
Sheffield, South Yorkshire

 

Fighting malnutrition

SIR – Today is World Food Day. We, a group of 64 nutrition researchers and practitioners, are deeply concerned that Covid-19 is driving an under-reported surge in global hunger and malnutrition that poses a greater threat to children in the poorest countries than the virus itself.

The British Government has helped to lead global action on malnutrition, but UK aid commitments expire this year. Amid escalating needs, time is running out to ensure that support is in place to maintain life-saving nutrition interventions.

Even before the pandemic struck, more than 2,000 children were dying each day from wasting (meaning they were too thin for their height). This number is set to rise steeply: recent modelling has found that 433 more children could die each day from wasting this year than was anticipated before the pandemic.

Child stunting (where children are too short for their age), previously affecting 150 million children, is also set to rise. This is associated with physical and cognitive damage, as well as long-term harm to individual, societal and thus global health and well-being.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has been created at a time when Covid-19 threatens to reverse hard-won progress on nutrition that UK aid has helped to achieve.

For the sake of the lives and life chances of the next generation, we are urging the Government to maintain its leadership in this moral, humanitarian and development priority by recommitting itself to investing in nutrition.

Professor Corinna Hawkes
Director, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London
Professor James A Berkley
Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Oxford
Dr Lawrence Haddad
Executive Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
Professor William A Masters
Friedman School of Nutrition and Department of Economics, Tufts University
Dr Fiona Borthwick
Programme Director, MSc Global Food Security and Nutrition, University of Edinburgh
Dr Marko Kerac
Associate Professor of Public Health Nutrition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Professor Robert E Black
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Professor Patrick Webb
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
Dr Stella Nordhagen
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
Professor Stephen Allen
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Emeritus Professor Alan Jackson
International Malnutrition Task Force, International Union of Nutritional Sciences, University of Southampton
Professor Ann Ashworth
Convener, International Malnutrition Task Force
Dr Penelope Nestel
Programme Director, MSc Public Health, University of Southampton
Dr Stuart Gillespie
Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute
Dr Andrew Seal
Institute for Global Health, University College London
Dr Saskia Osendarp
Micronutrient Forum
Dr Saul S Morris
Director of Programme Services, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
Regina Keith
Senior Lecturer, University of Westminster
Sharada Keats
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
Edward Davey
Food and Land Use Coalition
Dr Howarth E Bouis
International Food Policy Research Institute
Dr Alan Walker
University of Aberdeen
Professor Paul Haggarty
University of Aberdeen
Dr Gilles Bergeron
New York Academy of Sciences
Professor Julie Dockrell
Institute of Education, University College London
Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera
Head of Nutrition, Action Against Hunger
Dr Todd Rosenstock
Centre for International Forestry Research, World Agroforestry
Professor Dr Matin Qaim
University of Göttingen‏
Kate Munro
Head of Advocacy, Action Against Hunger UK
Alessandro Iellamo
Save the Children
Andi Kendle
Technical Rapid Response Team, International Medical Corps
Dr Lynnette Neufeld
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
Martha Nakakande
Technical Rapid Response Team, International Medical Corps
Mr Ben G S Allen
Technical Rapid Response Team, International Medical Corps
Dr Salma Belnour
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Sophie Healy-Thow
Scaling Up Nutrition
Nicola Dent
Independent Public Health Nutritionist
Rita Kaiser
International Medical Corps
Dr Sibida George
Global Nutrition Adviser, International Medical Corps
Dr Helen Nabwera
Paediatrician, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Iris Bollemeijer
Nutrition Adviser, International Medical Corps
Marie McGrath
Technical Director, Emergency Nutrition Network
Dr Marie Ruel
Director, Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division, International Food Policy Research Institute
Kate Golden
Senior Nutritionist, Concern Worldwide
Andrew Beckingham
Save the Children UK
Dr Rudaba Khondker
Country Director, Bangladesh, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
Professor Bhavani Shankar
Professorial Research Fellow, University of Sheffield
Augustin Flory
Managing Director, Nutrition, Results for Development
Dr Antonio Vargas Brizuela
Head Senior Nutrition Adviser, Action Against Hunger
Natalie Roschnik
Senior Nutrition Adviser, Save the Children
Lilly Schofield
Senior research and Impact Adviser, Save the Children UK
Emily Keane
Senior Nutrition Adviser Save the Children
Masud Rana
Nutrition Adviser, Save the Children UK
Hatty Barthorp
Global Nutrition Adviser, GOAL
Rose Ndulu Ndolo
Senior Nutrition Adviser, World Vision UK
Dr Anna Herforth
Senior Research Associate, T H Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University
Professor Claire Heffernan
Director, London International Development Centre, Professor of International Development at the Royal Veterinary College
Mtisunge Gondwe
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Dr Kirrily de Polnay
Leader, Nutrition Working Group, Médecins Sans Frontières
Saskia van der Kam
Nutrition and Food Security expert, Médecins sans Frontières Amsterdam
Odile Caron
Food scientist, Food safety and quality specialist, Médecins sans Frontières
Dr Jose Luis
Alvarez Moran

Epidemiology and Public Health Coordinator, Médecins sans Frontières UK
Emily Hockenhull
Nutrition and Public Health Adviser, People in Need UK

 

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