The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee have launched an enquiry into the Government’s preparedness for emerging diseases with pandemic potential. This follows the largest ever avian flu outbreak in the UK and the growing concern of zoonotic diseases causing future pandemics.
The Committee will examine whether the Government is applying the lessons from its handling of covid-19, including on vaccine development, testing capacity, scientific advice in Government and the economic impact of pandemics.
Among the topics MPs will consider is the threat posed by zoonotic diseases and how best to prevent and control them. The inquiry will also examine how the UK can enhance its response to disease outbreaks with pandemic potential, with a focus on the UK’s biosecurity framework and the co-ordination between the Government and the UK Health Security Agency.
The Committee is inviting written submissions by 31 March 2023, addressing any or all the following points:
- How the Government is applying lessons from the covid-19 pandemic, in areas such as:
- Pandemic preparedness;
- Testing capacity and approach;
- Vaccine development and treatments;
- Scientific advice in Government; and
- Accounting for the economic impact of pandemics
- The causes of zoonotic disease emergence and ‘spillover events’, the types of zoonotic disease most likely to emerge; and the potential global implications of a future zoonotic disease outbreak;
- The extent of UK preparedness for an emerging disease outbreak with pandemic potential, and how this could be enhanced, including an assessment of recent policy announcements such as the refresh of the UK Biological Security Strategy;
- The extent of co-ordination between Government departments and other bodies such as the UK Health Security Agency;
- Whether the threat from animal and other diseases receives sufficient cross-government priority
- Additional policy initiatives and solutions needed in the UK and internationally to reduce the risk of the future spread of emerging diseases with pandemic potential.