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Now it’s time for Boris Johnson to prepare for the next pandemic

Editorial: Scientists say the government must not forget about future threats

Saturday 20 March 2021 21:30 GMT
The PM needs to ‘follow the science’
The PM needs to ‘follow the science’ (Reuters)

The prime minister has said that there will be a public inquiry into the UK’s coronavirus response, but too little thought has been given to the form it might take. Understandably, much of the focus from outside Downing Street has been on holding Boris Johnson’s government to account for its apparent failings over the past year and more.

That must happen, but what is more important is that we learn the right lessons so that we are prepared for the next pandemic. That is the message from a number of leading scientists who spoke to The Independent.

“Memories are short-lived,” said Professor Peter Horby, chair of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag). Professor Sarah Gilbert, whose team developed the Oxford vaccine, said it was vital to listen to pandemic warnings “and prepare for the next one”. Professor Sir Mark Walport, the former chief scientific adviser to the government, warned against the tendency “to focus on the last disaster and not think about the next one”.

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