Covid-19: The Saga continues…

Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week once again it’s Covid.

It seems we are in a time warp and no matter what we do, can’t seem to get out of the vicious cycle humanity has found itself trapped in due to Covid-19. By the time this goes to print, Scotland and the rest of the UK will be bringing in new restrictions to stop and prevent the spread of the new covid variant, “Omicron”. I have been closely following the journey of the virus since it was first discovered in Wuhan, China in 2019. Below are some of my thoughts on why we are still struggling to bring the virus under control and what has gone wrong so far and why does it seem governments across the globe have not learnt from their mistakes.

We now know the facts and origins of the virus and how China kept things under wraps for a few months until a whistle-blower from a hospital in Wuhan revealed online the scale of the infections and death in the city in late 2019. China’s political system and the world turning a bind eye to the happenings in a communist state, all contributed to the spread of this deadly virus around the globe in a matter of weeks, thus causing utter misery, chaos and death to millions of citizens. Many have lost loved ones and all this death could have been avoided if strict measures were put in place by governments across the world; instead, they ran scared of offending China; the worlds biggest manufacturer of goods and the second largest economy after the US.

Once again, we are back to square one with possible lockdown and restrictions coming back with a vengeance. It took Boris Johnson until 23rd March 2020 to impose lockdown in all four nations of the UK. Unfortunately, as we now know, it was too late for many who lost their lives due to the pandemic and the careless attitude of Westminster covid rules and regulations that applied to the general public. Vaccine politics is being used as a weapon of choice by the rich western countries to charge exorbitant prices for life saving vaccines that the majority of the developing and third world countries cannot afford. Intellectual property rights have yet to be rescinded by western pharmaceutical companies in order that poorer countries can start production of these vital vaccines for their population. Global trade and travel were back to normal only a few months ago with no plan or exit strategy in place to avoid the spread of new variants like Omicron. The use of vaccines as a strategy to combat these new variants are falling way short of actually being effective to stop the spread of this virus. As of April 13, 2021, the United Kingdom government had ordered 457 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines.

What should we do now? For vaccine’s to be effective, at least 70% of the population have to be vaccinated with all the 3 recommended doses. Secondly, the UK, especially England was allowed to remove restrictions like face coverings in public places including transport and indoors, while Scotland and Wales stuck with the measures to reduce infection rates. This was not going to work as the biggest population country (England) would have a negative impact on the UK. Unnecessary foreign travel, including holidays should have been restricted to stop the export or import of new variants of Covid-19.

Finally, the rich have to provide vaccines to the poor, if not, we will be constantly going around in circles as we also live in a very globalised world. Here is hoping it’s not too late again and that we don’t lose more loved ones to the virus.

Keep safe and have a good Christmas and a happy new year 2022!


Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 17th December 2021

NHS at risk from American trade deal!

So it’s finally happening. The UK is in meltdown and Boris Johnson and his criminally insane cabinet ministers are out to create havoc and destruction for the common folk of this country. For regular readers of my column I would like to assure you that I will not focus on this anymore but highlight something much worse that is creeping on these islands and no one seems to be paying much attention to it. Our precious NHS will be up for sale to the Americans to be privatised and controlled by the 1% after Brexit. A select group of present and past members of parliament will extensively benefit from this sale and all this started in 2000 by the then Labour health secretary Alan Milburn who in order to tackle the problems of the NHS went for help to a most unlikely individual, Richard Branson!

Prompted by this request, a team from Virgin visited GP surgeries and hospitals over a three month period and in a 31 page report concluded that the NHS needed to adapt and change quickly in order to survive and thrive. Not the words they actually used in the damming report, but you get my point. The virgin boss was a very successful entrepreneur by then running various businesses from music to airlines. A very clever and shrewd businessman who is now reaping the benefits financially through government contracts not only in the UK but globally. He has politicians and bureaucrats in his pocket while charming the world with his down to earth attitude and smile!

Almost two decades later, Virgin is claiming billions of pounds of tax payers money to boost its profits while the NHS is neither improved or better! Virgin Care has won over £2bn of contracts since 2010, the year the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition escalated the agenda to benefit private companies like Virgin Care all in the name of  reducing the cost for tax payers. Since 2013 Virgin Care has spread its tentacles in these areas; children and immunisation, community and sexual health, treatments, prisons and multiple other services across England. At the heart of this empire is Virgin Group Holdings Limited, a holding company based in the British Virgin Isles, a convenient tax haven! It has also managed to sue and win a £2million pay-out from an NHS Trust for loss of contract. So much for the good guy image portrayed by its founder.

It really beggars belief that so many supposedly educated and well-informed people in this country are blinded by headline news from politicians and tabloids and fail to see the obvious truth of what really is happening. In Scotland the NHS is still under public ownership and thankfully its budget is currently ring-fenced by the SNP government. The NHS is already on the road to complete privatisation in England by contracts given out to private firms to supply services and other associated contractual work.

What will happen to the NHS in Scotland if the Tories win at Holyrood next?

Published in the Peeblesshire News on 20th September 2019.