SIR – The Health Security Agency UK tells us that some two million lateral flow and PCR tests are done every day and just under 200,000 of them are positive for Covid. That’s 10 percent of the tests done.
Of those who test positive, 2,200 (1.1%) go to the hospital and (according to the latest weekly average of January 3) 156 (0.08%) per day unfortunately die. That compares to about 1,600 of us who die every day from any cause. This is just 10 percent of daily deaths from (no) Covid, compared to 460 (29 percent) for heart disease and 450 (28 percent) for cancer.
The number of deaths actually caused by (rather than with) Covid is likely to be significantly less than 10%. Still, three times the daily deaths from heart disease and cancer receive far less government and media intervention.
The costs / benefits of current thinking should certainly be reassessed and we should move on with our lives.
Dr Alain Latham
Seaford, East Sussex
SIR – The NHS told me that as a vulnerable person I might receive the new antiviral pills if I am positive for Covid, and kindly sent me a home PCR test.
The return package is pre-addressed to the ‘NHS Test and Trace Regional Lab’ via Royal Mail Tracked 24 hours. In practice, this can take two or three days (with last post hours in rural areas and pesky weekends). The NHS website says the test result can take up to three days. Then there is the wait for a clinician to call and the wait to receive the pills. So I could very easily find myself outside the maximum window of five days for the effectiveness of the drug.
So if I use the test I would like to arrange for a courier or taxi to deliver the pack to the lab instead of using Royal Mail. I will gladly pay for it. However, it is difficult to find the real address of the laboratory, and impossible to be sure.
If the ‘test-and-cure’ process takes too long, I and others like me can become inpatients, putting more strain on the NHS. This is something we are paying millions of pounds to try to avoid.
Stopham, West Sussex
SIR – Millions of us have been anxiously awaiting the release of the 1921 census. Yesterday Findmypast, the only online provider, announced its arrival.
I am appalled that each name searched will cost £ 2.25 or £ 3.15. This makes the exercise totally uneconomical; like most people, I have hundreds of names in my family tree.
The Colston jury
SIR – Much has been said about the jury’s decision to acquit in the lawsuit over the overturning of the Colston statue in Bristol. The verdict went against the judge’s explanation of the evidence and the law. A retired judge, His Worship Nic Madge (Letters, January 7), says the jury’s decisions are sacrosanct.
Each juror must have taken an oath “to judge the accused faithfully and to render a true verdict according to the evidence”. The law was explained to them: this aversion to the statue did not justify its damage. Is there no penalty for breaking this oath?
SIR – Wouldn’t it have been better if the police had done their job and prevented displacement and damage to public property in the first place?
Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham
SIR – My old Colston dishwasher is now known to be racist. So I intend to get rid of it in the port of Bristol and I am looking for volunteers to help me.
Refreshments will be served.
SIR – I co-founded the Gambling with Lives charity with other bereaved parents and partners to warn families about dangerous forms of gambling – some with addiction and risk rates of up to 50% – and the risk extreme associated suicide. Every day in the UK, someone commits suicide because of gambling. No one has told us or the loved ones we have lost.
Where is the freedom of young people bombarded with advertisements and predatory bonuses called “free bets”? Where is the freedom of parents who are unaware that electronic games are a risk to life, about which their children should be warned, alongside tobacco, drugs and alcohol?
The idea that bereaved families want to ban gambling is a distraction. It is not on the agenda. We just want to raise awareness and stop the dead.
Playing with lives
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
SIR – Sir Tony Baldry (Letters, January 5) rightly says that the maintenance of parish churches “will require the involvement of local communities … to help maintain a building of heritage significance”.
Parish councils are an obvious vehicle for such support. It is therefore anachronistic that Section 8 of the Local Government Act of 1894 instead prohibits parish councils from funding church repairs (unless, of course, the church has been closed).
SIR – My parish church certainly did not ignore the elderly and infirm during the pandemic (Letters, January 6). The services were broadcast every Sunday. When the managers of the nursing home agreed it was safe, the Eucharist was taken to the residence. When pastoral visitation was not appropriate because members of the congregation were isolating themselves, regular phone calls were made to check on their welfare and discuss.
A Christian all my life, I have yet to find a member of the clergy who treats his work as if it were another.
Weston Favell, Northamptonshire
Blacksmith car maintenance
SIR – My first car in 1956 was a 1935 Morris 8. Like Karen Mullan’s Triumph Herald (Letters, January 5), it had a rotten chassis allowing the rear hinged doors to open unexpectedly.
I found some old bed iron in my father’s workshop and our local blacksmith kindly soldered it for me. No unsuspecting girlfriend has ever been kicked out.
When my son passed his moped test at 16, he was able to do two rounds of paper instead of one. He then passed his test on our car and bought a Triumph Herald with his pocket money, in which he passed three paper rounds. However, the driver’s door opened at the first roundabout, but then I had good experience in fixing a rotten chassis.
MONSIEUR – When our son was born, my husband came to pick us up from the maternity ward by stopping in front of the entrance to our white convertible Triumph with its black top down.
The matron who went out with me was horrified. “Put the refill on immediately. You can’t bring a baby home with this!
Of course he did.
SIR – Although at 43 years old my Triumph Spitfire 1500 is still going strong, many years ago in a steep downhill curve in Tuscany one front wheel decided to come off.
Fortunately, the Spitfire simply stopped in place, as the wheel continued to descend – eventually overturned in front of two oncoming Italian cars, whose drivers had stopped to observe this curious English spectacle. But each had a place to go and drove calmly, cautiously past the wheel and wreckage.
SIR – In 1971 my husband saw an old Morris Minor on a compost heap in a garden. He got his car’s battery, strapped it in, and the Morris drove off.
It was my first car. Repainted in black and purple, it was used for many years.
When our first child was born, we removed the front seat and the carrycot was placed on the ground. No safety rules at the time!
Patricia a craig
SIR – In January 1969, I was invited to a first date. The theater was followed by dinner at a restaurant, after which I was escorted to my parked Morris 1000 only to find it refused to start because the battery was dead.
As I waved the starter grip, I expected my “date” to kick-start the car’s engine. No chance ! He had recently had his appendix removed.
Instead, he sat confidently and comfortably at the wheel, his foot hovering delicately over the throttle, accelerating it as soon as the engine came to life thanks to my forceful squeeze of the starter grip. . How romantic was that?
Fortunately, this “date” has been my husband for 53 years. But we no longer have cars with starter handles.
SIR – Judith Woods quotes a friend asking, “Is it bad to type ‘she / she’ after signing on your email?”
Those who feel pressured to add such pronouns should just point out that where it is already evident from the first name (like Judith), then it makes a political statement.
The reason we do not add political statements to our business electronic signatures is that it would annoy many customers and colleagues. Otherwise, I would be happy to add “conservative”. But I know HR would pick on that.