Covid communication

Reading the updates in the Swindon advertiser and those from the council it is pleasing to see COVID 19 rates are down substantially and of course that hospitalisation and deaths are substantially down.

I am nevertheless concerned that some complacency might be setting in.

Vaccination rates in the Broadgreen and SN1 remain concerningly low. So much so that Swindon was mentioned on LBC radio this week as an area where vaccinations are below average.

Is it not a good idea apart from the vaccination bus to have a temporary vaccination centre there to complement Steam? The bus has to cover the whole of Wiltshire and Bath to and cannot just stay in Swindon.

Many who live in SN1 are in low paid temporary work, live in multigenerational homes and do not necessarily get reached by mainstream media. If there was a pop-up centre in Broadgreen with ideally some staff speaking languages like Goan and Nepalese it would encourage people to get vaccinated for sure.

There is a lot of talk about the India variant, I am sure contingency plans are in hand. If that is the case why not share them with the public who will be viewing the situation in Bolton and Bedford with concern?

In Bolton according to Matt Hancock many of those in hospital could have been vaccinated already. As a result of this learning it is really important to up our vaccination rate here to ease potential pressure on the already overstretched hospital. It should be remembered that the vaccines are only effective a couple of weeks after being taken so appropriate steps are of real urgency. Furthermore we should consider as a town we are only as strong as our weakest link, not just think if a horse doesn`t go to water then its somehow their fault.

The Brazilian variant is a variant of concern. Given that there is a high Brazilian population in Swindon has any thought been given to this community and a potential outbreak of this variant? I have seen nothing targeted in Portuguese to encourage Brazilians to take up vaccines and suspect as many live in SN1 and SN2 that this is a community that is under-vaccinated anyway. Has this potential situation been analysed and appropriate measures put in place? I suspect not.

It is well known that there is hesitancy to take vaccines among younger people. We are down to 34 years old so isn`t it time to implement the vaccine buddy programme that is having results in Somerset? We need to think ahead all the time in this fast moving and dynamic situation.

I have focused on vaccines as this seems to be the main strategy adopted both at local and national level. However given preliminary data suggesting that the India variant is more transmissible than the Kent variant ventilation remains key. Also I would have thought that promotion of Vitamin D supplements is important given their success in Finland which has similar case rates to the UK but not as high vaccination rate we have.

What I would like to see in Swindon in terms of the public health department and their colleagues at the regional health authority is a proactive rather than reactive reaction to Covid-19. It would also be good to see more explanation of what is being done on the ground rather than simply relating figures and government guidance.

The Public Health department in Somerset has been very successful in informing the public of mitigation measures and Swindon could learn from their communication strategies. Such measures would reassure the public, encourage use of leisure facilities shops etc and help bring us back to a more normal life sooner rather than later.

The next few days and weeks are critical in achieving this aim.

Jonathan Sheldrake

Priam House


Origin of virus

Covid-19 has spread all over the world and killed more than three million people but there has been very little research into origin of the virus.

Gain-of-function experiments are being carried out in various laboratories around the world including the USA and China.

The possibility of an escape from a laboratory has never seriously been considered. The speed of spread and the growing number of variants bear all the hallmarks of gain-of-function research.

This world needs to know the origin of the Covid-19 virus if we ever going to find a way to defeat it.

Steve Halden

Beafort Green