Written by James Claughton, 21st November 2023
What has happened so far:
Modules 1 – 5 have started already: Module 1: Resilience and preparedness, Module 2: Core UK decision-making and political governance, Module 3: Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on healthcare, Module 4: Vaccines and therapeutics, and most recently Module 5: Procurement.
The Inquiry is ongoing and expected to conclude by summer 2026 but evidence collation for the inquiry remains ongoing. Various preliminary hearings for each of the modules have taken place in private.
Public hearings for Module 1 began on 13th June 2023 and ended on 19th July 2023. The Inquiry announced that they expect to publish their findings by summer 2024. Module 1 considered the extent to which the risk of a coronavirus pandemic was appropriately identified and planned for and considered whether the UK was ready for the pandemic.
The first public hearings, relating to UK’s resilience and preparedness, heard evidence from 69 independent experts and former/current government officials and ministers.
Module 2 is looking at core political and administrative governance and decision making for the UK, initially for England and then will consider the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Modules 2a, 2b and 2c). Module 2 is designed to evaluate government decision-making in in relation to the initial response to Covid-19, non-pharmaceutical interventions such as lockdowns and closure of schools; it will also assess the efficacy of relationships with the devolved administrations.
Public hearings for Module 2 started on 3rd October 2023 and will run to 14 December 2023. They will examine key decision-making by the government between early January 2020 and February 2022. The inquiry is currently hearing evidence from witnesses on Module 2. The public hearings are available to watch online via Youtube.
An “Impact Film” was shown at the start of Module 2. The Chair, Baroness Hallett, said the following in her opening remarks:
“Fourteen people, from across the UK, have been recorded talking about the devastating impact the pandemic has had on their lives and the lives of their families. The film includes references to bereavement, grief, care homes, hospital wards, funerals, feelings of guilt, feelings of anger, loneliness and isolation, Long Covid in adults, Long Covid in children, mental health, physical disability and to lockdown rule-breaking.
I am extremely grateful to those who have agreed to participate. I know how difficult it must have been for them to do so on camera.”
Former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has provided written evidence to the Inquiry and is expected to give evidence in person later this year. Dominic Cummings, Former Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister, and Mark Sedwill, the former cabinet secretary until September 2020 – the UK’s top civil servant have given evidence already. The Inquiry has heard extracts from various messages between parties involved and attracted strong media interest.
The public hearings for the for Module 3 Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on healthcare systems across the UK – are expected to take around 10 weeks from autumn 2024.
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