Evening Standard Comment: The Government must start the Covid-19 pandemic inquiry this autumn

·1-min read
<p>Ambulances at Whitechapel hospital in London during the peak of the second wave of Covid-19</p> (PA Wire)

Ambulances at Whitechapel hospital in London during the peak of the second wave of Covid-19

(PA Wire)

Delay was the hallmark of the Government’s early handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. It now appears to be adopting the same approach to the holding of a public inquiry.

As we report today, an exclusive poll for the Evening Standard found that a clear majority of the public want the inquiry to begin this year, not in the spring of 2022 as currently slated.

In reality, a spring start means we will see little until autumn 2022, with conclusions not in until 2023 at the earliest. The reasoning is straightforward to start this autumn.

We need to learn the lessons of the pandemic now, so we can be better prepared both for the next one and for potentially vaccine-busting Covid-19 variants.

The risk is, if the Prime Minister wants to go for an election in 2023 as touted, this vital inquiry will not have finished. The Conservatives have increased their lead over Labour to a staggering nine points.

They should be rightly praised for the incredible vaccine rollout and the work of Kate Bingham and her team and the NHS to make this happen.

Nevertheless, we still had one of the highest death rates in the world. What happened around care homes, PPE and delayed decision-making needs to be closely viewed to build a better system. We must learn lessons — not in order to punish those in charge, but to safeguard our future.

The Government should therefore seize this moment, bring forward the Covid inquiry, and ensure Britain is better prepared for the next pandemic.

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