A MEMBER of the Zero Covid Scotland campaign has suggested the Scottish Government’s change in pandemic policy has gone wrong and it has lost control of the virus.

In a document running to 3500 words, Graham Checkley examines what he calls the “fault lines” of the policy switch.

He points out that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Covid-19 committee on March 10: “We are, rightly, being cautious in order that, as we start to lift the restrictions, we make sure that we have as much certainty as we will ever have in such a situation that we will not immediately be overtaken by spread of the virus.”

Checkley said Labour leader Anas Sarwar (below) told the Scottish Parliament earlier this month that “the virus is out of control” and the Scottish Government had no clear strategy for tackling the pandemic.

The National: Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar challenged the First Minister on the issue

“Mr Sarwar was quite correct, but sadly 71 days too late,” said Checkley.

“In fact, the Scottish Government lost control of the pandemic on June 22 this year.

“This was the day when the avowed policy of ‘suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there’ changed to ‘suppress the virus to a level consistent with alleviating its harms while we recover and rebuild for a better future’.”

He said at that point the number of infections had been rising steadily since May, but no additional restrictions or mitigation measures were considered because of the belief that the vaccination programme had broken the link between Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations, which meant the number of cases could effectively be ignored.

Then, in April, the more infectious Delta variant was reported in the UK, prompting Zero Covid Scotland to express its “deep concern” over new variants reaching the country. In May, he said new cases dropped to their lowest level, the Covid-19 oversight committee was disbanded and a recovery committee established. With cases starting to rise, the Scottish Government changed its policy in June, from “suppress the virus to the lowest possible level” to suppressing it “to a level consistent with alleviating its harms while we ... rebuild for a better future”.

Checkley added: “The Scottish Government currently has no real epidemic strategy and is tinkering with the idea of vaccination passports when the idea has been abandoned and discredited elsewhere. Its policies in relation to schools have been inconsistent. It hesitated to vaccinate all 12 to15-year-olds, despite robust evidence that vaccines are effective and safe in this crucial age-group, preferring instead to trail the JCVI.”

Sturgeon told MSPs yesterday: “Although the level of infection in Scotland remains too high, there are continuing signs that the recent spike in cases is now slowing down.

“Indeed, we are now seeing early signs – not just that the rate of increase is slowing– but that cases are now actually starting to fall slightly.”