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Reader's letter: Counting the cost of failures

I noted the response from Mr R. Sheppard (Virus Projections Need To Be Tested, News Views, December 17) to the put-down he received from Dr Bassey over his lack of scientific understanding.

Mr Sheppard is again wrong when he states that modelling the spread of the covid-19 virus couldn’t be based on the observation of past events because this is a new virus.

In fact, previous influenza epidemics and, significantly, previous coronavirus epidemics have informed modelling that has proved pretty accurate in anticipating the growth of the current pandemic.

Mr Sheppard is concerned about the vast sums of money being spent in response to the epidemic.

That the costs are so huge is not through any failure of modelling, but through bad government ­— from the acknowledged failure to heed the recommendations that stemmed from the pandemic preparations modelled by Health England in 2019, to the run down of personal protective equipment stocks, the reduction in nurses and doctors through previous Conservative governments’ austerity cutbacks, and the failure to follow the science, despite its claims.

We have the most incompetent, dishonest and corrupt government in living memory, and a prime minister whose responses from the start have been based not on public health or economic considerations, but on his boyish desire to be liked.

Had we had strong leadership from the outset, when the government’s science advisors were demanding lockdown, while Johnson was quipping that he was still shaking hands and it would be all over in weeks; or in September when the scientific advice was for a circuit breaker that Johnson resisted until November. Had we had a leader with courage to take action when the new virulent strain of virus was identified in October, instead of Johnson who was laughing it off just two weeks before Christmas, and then had to climb down again and cancel all our plans a few days later on the pretence of new evidence, the epidemic would not be out of control in this country and the costs, both in money and lives, would not have been so great. ­— JOHN FREEMAN, Claypole

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