A detailed analysis of where almost £5bn of Covid business funding went is not possible due to gaps in data, a spending watchdog has found.
The Scottish government provided £4.4bn in grants and business rates relief between the start of the pandemic and October last year.
A further £375m was announced following the emergence of Omicron last winter.
The government said the speed and scale of the roll out helped to safeguard thousands of job and businesses.
But Audit Scotland was unable to determine where all the money ended up.
…Scottish Conservative finance spokeswoman Liz Smith acknowledged the speed with which the money had to be released but said the report highlighted a “shocking lack of data” meant “enormous sums of public money were paid out” but “we don’t properly know where it went”.
In the pages of The BMJ a decade ago, in the middle of a different pandemic, it came to light that governments around the world had spent billions stockpiling antivirals for influenza that had not been shown to reduce the risk of complications, hospital admissions, or death. The majority of trials that underpinned regulatory approval and government stockpiling of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) were sponsored by the manufacturer; most were unpublished, those that were published were ghostwritten by writers paid by the manufacturer, the people listed as principal authors lacked access to the raw data, and academics who requested access to the data for independent analysis were denied.
Little is known about the interests of the doctors, scientists, and academics on whose advice the UK government relies to manage the pandemic. Attempts to discover more are frequently thwarted, finds Paul D Thacker.