- 11 Feb 2021
Date received: 8 Jan 2021
Date responded: 29 Jan 2021
"Can the Scottish Government please provide all evidence supporting theory of lockdown and restrictions in addition to benefits of social distancing, remote learning, remote working vs the adverse impacts of increased domestic abuse, increase in suicides, increased deaths from other ailments/diseases etc."
All the information you have requested is available from Scottish and UK Government websites. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy. Throughout the epidemic, having a clear route for synthesising scientific evidence and presenting that to Government has been important. To do this, scientific advice is provided by the Scottish Government COVID-19 Advisory Group, details of which can be found at Scottish Government COVID-19 Advisory Group-gov.scot (www.gov.scot).
The Scottish Government is informed by SAGE, and its sub groups. Details can be found at: List of participants of SAGE and related sub-groups - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). The latest publically available evidence from SAGE is here: Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). Evidence supporting lockdown is available in a SAGE publication (Summary of the effectiveness and harms of different non-pharmaceutical interventions, 21 September 2020 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)) which gives a summary on page 4 of the impact, particularly in terms of the reduction in R, of the combination of measures (including social distancing, school closures and working from home) imposed nationally in late March.
The Scottish Government considers a wide range of evidence when making decisions on restrictions. Details on impacts from economic, general wellbeing, mental health and anxiety and other non-Covid related health harms can be found in the four harms dashboard which is updated weekly and can be found at https://data.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/. On the 11th of December an evidence paper was published which discusses in detail the four harms. In relation to domestic abuse, in the evidence paper the Scottish Government noted that the third harm is to our broader way of living and to society that arises from the restrictions which Scotland, together with the other UK nations, have necessarily put in place to slow the spread of the virus. Detrimental effects can include, for example, increased isolation, particularly for those living alone, and the impact on children’s well-being from closing schools. Please see page 48 for information on safety and security around vulnerable individuals, including the risk of abuse.
With respect to changes to the suicide rate the Scottish Government is unable to comment as it does not currently hold have the information on the number of deaths caused by suicides for the whole of 2020. Information on deaths by suicide are published annually by National Records Scotland (NRS). In relation to deaths by suicide in 2020, this data would not usually be available until June 2021.
Excess deaths, over and above those from Covid-19, are one indicator of whether wider health impacts are happening. Please see page 31 of the evidence paper. NRS also have data which details the main causes and location of non-Covid excess deaths: Deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland | National Records of Scotland (nrscotland.gov.uk).
The new variant (B.1.1.7) identified towards the end of last year has an increased transmission rate somewhere between 0.4 and 0.7. This was the driver for the rapidly deteriorating situation in the south of England, including London, where cases were rising quickly and a number of major incidents were declared across the health service. The percentage of cases composed of this new variant increased rapidly in Scotland and accounted for 64% of samples tested between 17 and 18 January. The emergence and spread of this variant has increased the need for non-pharmaceutical interventions to reduce the transmission of this variant (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/948607/mitigations-to-reduce-transmission-of-the-new-variant.pdf).
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House