Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic will begin in Spring 2022.
Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons on Wednesday lunchtime, Mr Johnson said the inquiry would be “free to scrutinise every document, to hear from all the key players, and analyse and learn from the breadth of our response”.
Mr Johnson said he believed that the state has an “obligation to examine its actions” and said the inquiry should help “get the answers that the people of this country deserve” and ensure the UK is “better prepared for any future pandemic”.
The UK Government is to work with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in setting up the enquiry.
In addition, a UK commission on COVID commemoration has been announced to help organise the remembrance of the events of the pandemic and those lost during it.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcements, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer said; “Can I clearly welcome the independent inquiry into the pandemic and the establishing of a UK commission on COVID commemoration – both are necessary, both will play an important part in learning the lessons and commemorating those we have lost.”
Speaking about conversations he had with families who had lost loved ones during the pandemic, Starmer also urged the government to consult families when setting up the inquiry, saying “this inquiry will only work if it has the support and confidence of the families”. He also encouraged the Government to consult with those who had been working on the frontline.
The announcements by the Prime Minister come after a report issued by an independent panel on Wednesday found that the World Health Organisation and countries around the world failed to take strong actions soon enough to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The report, entitled “COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic”, concluded that the global pandemic was “due to a myriad of failures, gaps and delays in preparedness and response” and says that the current public health crisis was “preventable”.
According to official figures, more than 127,000 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test. Around the world, more than 3.3 million coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded since the start of the pandemic.