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Learning the Right Lessons for the Next Pandemic: How to Design Public Inquiries into the UK Government’s Handling of COVID-19

Research output: Book/ReportReport

Original languageEnglish
PublisherKing's College London
Number of pages33
Published8 Jun 2020


King's Authors


It is imperative that the UK, along with the international community, learns lessons to better prepare for the significant likelihood of future pandemics. Public inquiries in the area of public health can be highly effective tools for fact and cause-finding, lesson-learning, building support for institutional change, and helping the public to make sense of a crisis.

The objectives of lesson-learning and holding individuals and organisations to account are often in tension. Our key recommendation is to prioritise lesson-learning over political accountability for a public health-focused inquiry.

We argue for two separate inquiries:

a. First and foremost, we call for an inquiry focused primarily on lesson-learning for the UK. Ideally this inquiry should be initiated, coordinated and funded by reputable organisations in the field of public health who could act as credible knowledge-brokers, such as the Wellcome Trust, Nuffield Foundation, or Scientific Academies.

b. Secondly, if there are sufficiently serious and well-evidenced allegations of government negligence, a fact-finding, accountability-focused, and public trust-restoring inquiry should be instituted under the 2005 Inquiries Act.

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