The Microbiology Society has welcomed the opportunity from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee to respond to the inquiry on emerging diseases and lessons learned from COVID-19. The Society consulted with its members that were directly involved in the national response to the pandemic to co-ordinate its response.
It was reported to the Microbiology Society that:
- The UK remains poorly prepared for an emerging disease outbreak. This is in part due to chronic underfunding of public health services
- There is a lack of long-term, sustained funding programmes for scientific research on diseases with pandemic potential
- During key stages of the pandemic, it was difficult for experts to advise the Government and offers of help were often declined.
The Microbiology Society has therefore made the following key recommendations:
- Assemble regional teams of experts in diagnostics testing and surveillance with established processes that can be motivated and quickly mobilised in crisis scenarios
- Tap into the wealth of expertise both in clinics and academia, to inform future decisions related to testing, diagnostics and surveillance
- Strengthen investment in public health and scientific research
- Introduce formal, regular trial procedures to practice responding to public health crises
- Consider other global health threats that could impact our ability to respond to future pandemics, including climate change and antimicrobial resistance.
The Society says in its response that it wishes to extend a strong message of support to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in its aim to take forward lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and reiterate its position as a conduit between decision-makers and the vast wealth of expertise within the microbiology community.
Dr Peter Cotgreave, CEO of the Microbiology Society commented: “As we look forward to future pandemics, it is a question of when the next one will happen, not if. We have no idea whether it will be worse than COVID-19 – more transmissible, more deadly, or both. So as we look back at the recent pandemic, we should do everything we can to learn lessons that will help us prepare. Our response draws on the vast expertise and of the Microbiology Society's members, and their direct experience over the last few years, to make constructive suggestions about practical things we can do now, so that when the next new global infection emerges, we are as well-prepared as possible.”
The Microbiology Society’s full response can be read here - https://microbiologysociety.org/resource_library/consultation-responses/house-of-commons-science-and-technology-committee-emerging-diseases-and-learnings-from-covid-19-inquiry.html