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SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: lessons to be learned from the pandemic

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee have published a report, Coronavirus: lessons learned to date. Here is an overview of the key findings of their deliberations.

The UK government must learn from the mistakes made during the pandemic – the response has often been reactive; decisions tended to lack speed; there was insufficient learning from the international experience, particularly in relation to non-pharmaceutical interventions and Test and Trace; and the engagement with relevant sectors (particularly social care) required significant improvement. These were just some of the findings from a recent inquiry into the government’s handling of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.

          Coronavirus: lessons learned to date, examining the initial UK response to the pandemic,1 is a 150-page report containing 38 recommendations and drawing on evidence from over 50 witnesses – including the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick Vallance, Sir Simon Stevens, Dame Kate Bingham, Baroness Harding of Winscombe, and Dominic Cummings – as well as over 400 written submissions. The report was agreed unanimously by members of both Select Committees, which consist of 22 MPs from three political parties – Conservative, Labour and SNP.

          The joint inquiry, which began in October 2020, examined six key areas of the response to the pandemic: the country’s preparedness for a pandemic; the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as border controls, social distancing and lockdowns to control the pandemic; the use of test, trace and isolate strategies; the impact of the pandemic on social care; the impact of the pandemic on specific communities; and the procurement and roll-out of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

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