Coronavirus: lessons learned to date Contents


402.Pandemics like covid-19 will become more common.592 Throughout our inquiry, in our work as individual Committees and in this Report we have sought to learn from this episode in history. It has been a huge effort to respond to the covid-19 pandemic and all those who have contributed to that response have done so with the best of intentions despite some difficult outcomes in the UK. We express our gratitude to all those who have worked and contributed to the nation’s efforts throughout this pandemic. We also express our deepest condolences and sympathies to those who have lost loved ones.

403.We must ensure that the UK learns from its experience of covid-19 and does not repeat mistakes in the future. We have therefore identified a number of consistent themes in our conclusions and recommendations in this Report, including that:

a)the UK’s response, with the notable exception of vaccine development and deployment, has for the most part been too reactive as opposed to anticipatory;

b)there has been too little explicit learning from the international experience, as illustrated in the approach to non-pharmaceutical interventions and test and trace;

c)the right combination needs to be struck between centralised and localised measures and in certain cases implementation of pandemic containment measures was too centralised when it ought to have been more decentralised;

better engagement with relevant sectors and interest groups was needed to understand on-the-ground experience and inform decision making, particularly for social care; and

d)the response has lacked speed in making timely decisions.

404.As we have mentioned, we do not seek to apportion blame. Our conclusions and recommendations seek to inform preparations for future threats for this Government and future Governments and improve the immediate handling of covid-19. We hope through this Report we have set out some changes that can make a real difference.

405.This Report serves as an initial assessment of the handling of the covid-19 pandemic. A public inquiry has been promised to examine the response in fuller detail and needs to be launched as soon as possible. Throughout the pandemic, both Committees have gathered evidence to ensure a contemporary record of events and the thinking behind them. We hope the evidence we have collected and this Report will be of use to the public inquiry.

592 Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, ‘5 reasons why pandemics like COVID-19 are becoming more likely’, accessed 7 July 2021

Published: 12 October 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement