Vaccine equality

CLEVELAND Global Justice Now campaigners have joined the world fight to get better access to Covid vaccinations for everyone.

We are very lucky in the UK to have access to so many vaccinations. This is in contrast to people in low and middle-income countries who may have to wait until 2024 before they reach such high rates of vaccination.

Epidemiologists have warned that allowing the virus to spread unchecked in these countries could lead to mutations that render our current generation of vaccines ineffective within a year.

We must remember in our global world that "no one is safe until everyone is safe".

The Covid vaccinations have all been developed with billions of pounds of public funding and yet pharmaceutical corporations operate monopolies which mean that only they can make and sell them, and only they keep the profits. This is enforced by patents that keep out competition. To help bring an end to the pandemic we need to end these monopolies so that the world can ramp up the production of vaccines.

The US recently announced it would back the proposal to suspend patents, leaving the UK as one of the last countries disgracefully defending the rules that restrict vaccine availability for poorer countries. Factories that are capable of producing vaccines are currently sitting idle as they do not hold the patent or licence needed.

Vaccine inequality is unjust and a threat to all of us.

Barbara Welford, Secretary of Cleveland Global Justice Now, Scaling, Saltburn.

Service removal

AS someone who has reached an advanced age, I have developed a hearing loss issue. Fortunately, at my GP practice, they were happy to check out the problem face to face and decided removal of ear wax is necessary.

This procedure has been carried out at the practice in the past but apparently funding for this has been withdrawn, presumably by the regional health authorities, so it is necessary to have this done privately.

It can be done in Northallerton at a chemist, but the earliest appointment was in August. An alternative was in Harrogate where the earliest appointment was mid-July. This is wait is very disconcerting when you lose one of your vital senses.

Presumably, the health authorities have not checked to find out how many local/convenient places are available for this procedure before removing the service from our GP practices. To be fair I have managed to get an earlier appointment in Thirsk after searching for alternatives.

Malcolm Lloyd, Northallerton.

Climate response

FRANK BROUGHTON (D&S Times, June 4) correctly assumes that I am not a climate scientist. However, I consider myself experienced and sufficiently qualified to read into any subject and independently weigh up both sides of any debate and decide which I think is most likely to be correct.

Is Greta Thunberg as independently informed as I, or has she been brainwashed during her frequent absence from school to demonstrate?

The climate change debate is complicated by the fact that it is dogged by bad science, plagiarism, political ideology and self-interest.

During the Al Gore period in America, when Nobel awards (and millions of dollars) were being scattered like confetti over scientists who published papers warning of climate extinction, proper science and peer review was ignored. Opposing views were cancelled.

The scientists I listen to are mainly those who have changed sides in the debate because they saw that the models were wrong, the science was wrong, there was no peer review and it was wrong to cancel opposing views without open debate. You can find their backgrounds and opinions on the internet and make up your own mind.

We had a similar problem with experts and "economists" during the Brexit referendum. And a similar argument.

Only one "business expert" was for Brexit (Digby Jones), everyone else wheeled out by the establishment derided him.

Fortunately, their political ideology and self-interest was apparent as was the fact that they twisted the facts to their own ends. They also used doom and gloom to strengthen their dire predictions: for Greta Thunberg read George Osborne or Lord Adonis.

Frank Broughton cites the views of Stephen Hawking and Sir David Attenborough. Both have done very well out of climate extinction.

Unfortunately, a while back Sir David was warning of the extinction of polar bears due to shrinking polar ice caps. However, calmer counsel advised that the future of polar bears might be achieved by stopping hunters from flying down and "bagging" one or two. Lo and behold they are now thriving, despite climate change.

Alastair PG Welsh, Aycliffe Village.

Bogus stories

RATHER than play tit for tat it may be pertinent if Frank Broughton “The arguments” (D&S Times letters, June 4) was to cast his mind back to previous bogus stories made for political convenience.

I recall we, the public, were "reliably" informed of Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction, who we were told was able to despatch them within 45 minutes, this was proven to be an outright lie costing hundreds of British and American soldiers lives and those of thousands of civilians, creating total instability in the Middle East which is ongoing to this day.

The known people responsible remain untouchable for their wanton lies.

Likewise, when Brexit came on the agenda, we the public were again "reliably informed" by those with ulterior motives that we would suffer food shortages and the supermarket shelves would be constantly empty, admittedly there was a short period when the naive panic buyers struck.

We were also informed of a shortfall in vital lifesaving drugs and medicines, some supposedly being unobtainable, this again has been proved to be blatantly untrue, all coming from the mouths of so-called people of repute.

No doubt we will see more examples in the future when the next essential "cover up" is required with spin doctors at the ready with their fingers crossed behind backs.

The moral of the story is believe what you will – but these are just some examples of untruths by people who treat the public with contempt.

Trevor Mason, Swainby.

Taxing tech

MANY multi-national companies, for example Amazon, have done very well out of Covid-19. Now I don’t begrudge Amazon’s success, as I make frequent use of their services, and I find their fast and relatable home delivery very useful.

However, I do begrudge the fact that Amazon, and other multinationals, avoid paying their fair share of taxation to help governments, including our own, pay for the huge costs of Covid-19.

Thus the recent G7 agreement aimed at eliminating this abuse is to be welcomed, although I would have preferred to see the proposed minimum global corporation tax level set higher. It is about time that tax havens, many of them UK overseas territories, were abolished.

Alan Jordan, Middridge.

Vietnam example

MOST people in this country, especially business people in the hospitality sector, are tiring of this "will we won't we" farce over the date for our full and final release from lockdown restrictions relating to coronavirus, which should take place on June 21.

During a debate about this issue on BBC s' Question Time programme, a member of Sage said that some countries in the Far East like Vietnam had infection rates and death rates a lot lower than here in the UK.

Official figures from Vietnam state that they have only had 49 deaths from coronavirus, and this from a country with a population of 96.46 million, much higher than here in the UK.

Apparently in Vietnam they work hard at suppressing the virus, while their economy flourishes, so why can't we do the same? Surely we have the expertise, the manpower, to do so.

Some people are praising our government for their vaccine roll-out but we have had over 100,000 deaths, I'm sorry but that is a massive difference to Vietnam.

Our government's response, taking into account the number of deaths, the PPE issue in our care homes, the issue over how contracts for PPE equipment were decided, and the transfer of hospital patients to care homes without a coronavirus test, has been deplorable, and they are still dithering.

It's time we were getting to grips with this virus like they have done in Vietnam.

Name and address supplied.

Cause for celebration

RECENTLY, I watched the BBC programme Close Calls on Camera. One story was about a pregnant lady, stranded alone in the countryside and suffering from heavy bleeding associated with her pregnancy. Thanks to telephone advice from the emergency control centre, and to the air ambulance, both she and her baby survived.

But, my hackles rose when, in his preamble, the presenter said the lady "fell" pregnant. Why, at a time we are aspiring towards sexual equality, do we persist in implying that, in some way, a pregnant woman has fallen from her previous position in society and has something to be ashamed of?

I’m sure the Christian notion that an expectant mother is somehow inferior to her questionably chaste sisters is partly responsible. Indeed, it’s not long ago that heavily pregnant women hid away indoors.

I know that, unfortunately, there are unwanted pregnancies but, generally, I’d go with the pagan belief that pregnancy is something to be celebrated by both sexes.

Let’s drop the word "fell" once and for all. Let’s celebrate pregnancy for what it is – our future.

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland councillor (Ind), Moorsholm, east Cleveland.

Taking the knee

GIVEN the boos that echoed around the Middlesbrough’s Riverside stadium when England "took the knee" I fail to understand their discontent.

As with the majority of the crowd, I am not a member of an ethnic minority and therefore have no concept of what it is like to endure racial abuse and discrimination on a daily basis.

From slavery onwards, our education system promoted the view that our black Commonwealth cousins were lesser beings and as such should be treated differently, the result being that prejudice is widespread within our society as demonstrated within the housing and jobs sectors.

Therefore this persistent discrimination needs to be challenged and this should also apply to other disadvantaged groups.

Many say it should be "all lives matter" and not just "black lives matter". As such this identifies that when challenging discrimination, they are patently adopting the same side of the argument.

Everyone wishes to be treated fairly and to do so it means there should be an equality of access, opportunity and outcome. This would ensure society benefits from everyone having the chance to fulfil their potential.

So the next time you or your family feel you have suffered an injustice consider what it is like for members of the ethnic communities who for hundreds of years (both here and in the US) have been condemned for demanding their basic human rights. It also raises the question which minority will be vilified next, and are you a member of that one?

For those who booed, and all those agree with them, how can ethnic minorities receiving social justice make the lives of the majority any less fulfilling?

We should adopt Martin Luther King Jnr’s view and, judge a man not by the colour of his skin but by the content of his character – and thereafter treat them accordingly.

Tom Parkin, Howden le Wear.