It was revealed last week there are five “red zones” in Dundee where the number of Covid-19 cases has risen to above 200 per 100,000 people.
The news that increases were identified in the neighbourhood areas defined as Charleston, City Centre, Law, Hilltown and Stobswell piqued my interest, of course, as an inhabitant of the last of them.
Council leader John Alexander reassured the public, saying: “We should remember that this is just a pause – not a step backwards.” It all sounds familiar.
Last July, in direct contravention of a diktat making the use of face masks mandatory in public spaces, I said publicly I would not comply.
I had carefully read the guidance issued by the Scottish Government, which conflicted with the Public Health England and World Health Organisation guidance also available at the time, neither of which affirmed “mass masking”.
I, therefore, came to an unpopular but no less considered decision.
To say there was a significant response would be to understate the situation.
The Evening Telegraph Facebook page had more than 650 comments when I last checked.
For expressing that view, I was called “arrogant”, “naïve” and “stupid”. Our council leader said I was “selfish”.
Some readers thought I should have been given my jotters and one even described me as “a child killer”.
However, a year on and the empirical and peer-reviewed evidence reveals remarkable consensus, which vindicates my decision.
Evidence didn’t stack up
Over the last year, the UK and Scottish governments said mandatory mask-wearing would prevent viral transmission, that adherence to track and trace would avoid us going into lockdown and then that lockdowns would flatten the curve.
All assertions have been proven wrong when exposed to analytical and empirical rigour.
The problem with balanced and rational scrutiny of evidence, which is peer-reviewed, is it takes time and public patience wears thin in the absence of certainty.
The COVID Symptom Tracker is an app, approved by Scotland’s top clinicians, designed to study the symptoms of #coronavirus and track how it spreads.
We need as many people as possible to take part including people who are feeling well.
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) April 10, 2020
In February 2021, a report published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control found a negligible rate of effectiveness afforded by medical and non-medical face masks in limiting transmission.
In March, six medical professionals wrote a withering critique of “the absurd cost and failures of the NHS Test and Trace service” in the British Medical Journal.
These followed the WHO’s own Dr David Nabarro, who indicated lockdowns lead to higher “levels of suffering and death”.
On the bank holiday weekend, I had dinner with a Scottish Government civil servant, a successful businessman and an NHS clinical scientist and nurse working in a maternity unit.
Not one of these four people plans to take the vaccine but neither are they among those who wish to publicise their concerns for good reason.
These are not Covid-denying, lockdown-rejecting, face mask-opposing, civil-libertarian, anti-vaxxers. They are simply individuals steadily and stoically resisting the trajectory.
Vaccines for yellow fever and SARS, for instance, have been subject to decades’ worth of scientific and medical research
The clinical scientist, employed by the NHS, is one of two patient-facing practitioners in her department who objects on scientific grounds.
In her view, the trial period has been too short and medical side effects have, as a result, not been adequately tested and assessed.
As an international flyer, occasionally to developing nations, she is accustomed to vaccinations but states: “Vaccines for yellow fever and SARS, for instance, have been subject to decades’ worth of scientific and medical research.”
No middle ground
So, we are one year on and I have never worn a face mask nor adhered to track and trace. I have had many frank but fair conversations with business owners and shop managers.
And, this time, again based on careful consideration of the available evidence, I have decided not to take the vaccine.
I respect those who do, I only hope others might show the same respect to those who do not but sadly, public discourse has become very binary.
In the current paradigm, you are either cautious or you are careless. There appears to be no middle ground and if you lurch outside the orthodoxy in the brave new world of public opinion, you will inevitably be verbally and virtually bullied.