POLITICIANS are again stressing the harms done by Covid controls to our economy and the education of children and young people.

The view that Scotland should shift its Covid policy away from “coherent suppression” has recently gained greater traction in political circles. Covid suppression in these debates is frequently and falsely presented as a set of policies geared to totally eradicating the disease whereas it has always been based on eliminating the virus as far as possible by Covid controls we know work.

These controls, based on evidence and foresight rather than hindsight, protect our public health and are the best ways of getting the economy and education back to as normal a state as possible.

The “end suppression and get ­everything back to normal” ­fragmented approach – the big bang theory of pandemic control – simply does not work. It is not evidence-based. The latest Covid wave in ­Scotland has yet again shown this. The approach partly flowed from herd ­immunity ­arguments put ­forward prior to ­vaccine ­development. Now a more sophisticated version has emerged. It states that because we have vaccines and because we ­supposedly have ­effective Covid mitigation measures in place for example in our schools and workplaces, we can abandon suppression.

READ MORE: First Minister warns of 'targeted' restrictions to stop Scotland's Covid surge

Unfortunately, Scotland has not yet completed vaccinations across all key age groups. Nor do vaccinations alone effectively prevent Covid and for some at-risk individuals will not be possible anyway.

We have not yet been able to show proper mitigation measures exist across the country to ensure effective schools and workplace ventilation, physical distancing and mask/PPE policies that work and capture all at-risk groups. Instead, although more cautious than England in retaining a few important controls such as masks for some along with advice to work from home if possible, Scotland has abandoned most Covid controls.

This happened without added ­mitigation, confused the public about what few controls remained and ­replaced measures that worked with vague calls to individuals to “be careful”: not a public health tactic that can easily be implemented when ­dealing with a virus.

Advocacy for ending Covid suppression paradoxically has started to drown out careful analyses of the harms done by premature relaxation of limited controls. It has also muted and increasingly silenced the voices of those with Covid, those working with those with Covid and long Covid, and those supporting affected vulnerable and marginalised groups. Their experience of the pandemic and their continuing struggles look to have been ignored in so many ways.

This was graphically illustrated at the weekend by a public hearing organised by Zero Covid Scotland which supports greater suppression of Covid based on effective preventative measures and added mitigation.

READ MORE: Expert backs teens getting Covid vaccine amid 'frustrating' JCVI decision delay

Providing testimony at the event were over a dozen different groups and individuals ranging from those with long Covid, those supporting children with long Covid, those in ­vulnerable, isolated, and ­marginalised groups, those shielding and ­seriously ill, and those working in the care, education, and public service sectors.

They gave a powerful picture of the social, health and economic ­consequences of getting Covid and the human cost and efforts needed to avoid getting the disease. ­Speakers wanted to see more support for those affected by Covid but many also wanted to see greater and more ­extensive practical prevention measures taken to protect public health better in terms of ventilation, vaccination, physical distancing, monitoring, test and trace, and risk assessment and risk management to avoid the misery of future lockdowns and isolation.

The evidence we now already have about the de facto end of the ­suppression strategy in August and early ­September by the Scottish ­Government is clear and it has failed badly. In Alice and Wonderland terms, the Government Covid ­policy has done the opposite of what it hoped with a new wave.

Professor Andrew Watterson is a public health expert