Letter of the day:

Dear Editor,

Over the past weeks and months I have been following, with near incredulity and increasing exasperation, the views of Dr Richard House on the corona virus pandemic and the arrival of vaccines, as expressed in his letters to your papers, so I feel compelled to respond once more to his latest outpourings, writes Brian Wetton.

We are living in unprecedented, unsettling, uncertain and for some, especially those deemed to be particularly vulnerable, frightening times. In a way I have to feel rather sorry for Dr House who seems to inhabit some other planet where everyone (or at least, scientists, the medical profession, politicians and even poor old Auntie Beeb!) is out to get him, in some dastardly sinister, dystopian plot to keep us all under the thumb of the establishment!

It is easy for most of us to dismiss this nonsense with an exasperated sigh and shrug of the shoulders, but for some, particularly the more impressionable, it can be at best confusing and disturbing but at worst potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, some are only too willing, without question, to believe everything they read, especially on social media, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter etc. These can be dangerous places to go without a questioning mind.

The problem is, that in some quarters, those that generate this disinformation are seeming to enjoy more of the oxygen of publicity than they deserve, which can give the impression that these extreme views and the more mainstream standpoint have equal validity and are equally shared, which is far from the case. Dr House claims that a ‘substantial minority’ support his views, which may well be the case amongst certain elements in Stroud, but in reality this is not the case in the wider community. These are extreme, highly questionable, conspiracy laden views, held by a very small minority, which need to be called out as such. Our MP has also recently spoken out about her concern regarding the vocal antivaxxers in Stroud, and for the potential harm they are doing by attempting to influence others.

I have considerable sympathy for those politicians and their advisors who are grappling with the far-reaching decisions that are having to be made, when everything is changing so rapidly, and I would not wish to be in their shoes, and I do accept that they are attempting to act in our interests, even if in retrospect their decisions have been shown to be flawed. It is unfortunate that in times like this everyone claims to be an expert, when in reality they often have little concern for, or little appreciation of, the wider picture.

I also have enormous admiration for the scientists who have worked tirelessly to develop vaccines, two of which have now gone through all the necessary regulatory procedures, and, to quote Nicola Sturgeon, will ‘brighten the light at the end of the tunnel’. I for one will be accepting mine with considerable gratitude when it is offered. Any reservations that people might have about vaccination should be far outweighed by the very real risk that covid-19 presents, especially in the light of recent developments. To reply to Dr House again, the most significant ‘history of vaccines’ is that by ‘injecting foreign substances into peoples’ blood’ they have massively contributed to raising life expectancy from around 40 yrs in 1900 to what it is now. Dr House should feel grateful to be alive! But then it seems that he chooses to ignore facts that are inconvenient to his argument.

It is vital for us all, in so many ways, that the roll-out of the vaccines now proceeds smoothly and rapidly and, most importantly, has a high uptake, so that life may get back to normal. Too many have suffered in these dark times and we cannot afford to be distracted by those peddling disinformation.

Brian Wetton