Yesterday, the COVID-19 death toll in the UK surpassed 100,000 - five times greater than the UK's chief scientific adviser once said would be a 'good outcome'.
Each of those lives lost was a person and represents a grieving family. Far too many lives have been taken too soon.
Other countries across the world have had high death tolls, though none greater per capita than the UK.
Some countries, however, have managed to minimise human loss throughout this pandemic though better policy decisions.
Today at Scotland Office questions, I highlighted one significant policy difference between the UK and small independent European nation, Finland.
Right throughout the pandemic, Finland has paid benefits equivalent to 100% of a person’s salary if they are required to self-isolate. In comparison, the UK Government, which has responsibility for employment and sick pay policy for all of the UK, pays only a measly £95.85 a week.
Although this policy isn’t solely responsible for Finland’s better management of the pandemic, it is certainly a massive contributory factor in the significantly lower death rate there. In total to date, only 655 have died after testing positive for COVID-19. The difference between there and the United Kingdom is stark.
The graph below, courtesy of Our World In Data shows just how different the death rates have been between the UK and Finland, per capita.
Dealing with coronavirus has been challenging, and no government can be expected to get everything absolutely right. But we should not be dismissing the successes of small, independent countries like Finland, in the way the Secretary of State for Scotland did with me today.