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UK Covid-19 Inquiry launches First Investigation

21st July 2022 By Athena Poyiadjis

“Britain must be ready for a second pandemic and a rigorous and fair investigation will be conducted into whether lives could have been saved” 

 

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry began its first examination into how well-prepared the UK was for a pandemic today with the official introduction by Baroness Heather Hallett. A challenging schedule was also outlined by Baroness Hallett, with preliminary hearings beginning this year and the first witnesses being summoned in the spring. 

 

Modules

By splitting the Inquiry into modules, regular reports will be produced to ensure that the UK is well prepared in the event of a future pandemic. Baroness Hallett will divide the investigation into modules, with teams looking into and commissioning research on various topics, in order to make the “demanding” terms of reference easier to understand. Hearings will be held in order, indicating that the process may take several years. 

The UK’s resilience and readiness for the coronavirus pandemic will be examined in Module 1, the first of the Inquiry, which begins today. Parts of Module 2 will look at the fundamental political, administrative, and decision-making processes used by the UK government. The third module will look at how Covid has affected healthcare systems, including how patients, hospital staff, and other healthcare personnel, as well as how society and the government have responded. 

At least eight more modules are going to be following but these will not be announced until the following year. These are expected to include health inequalities and the impact of Covid-19; education, children and young people; the impact of Covid-19 on public services and other sectors; vaccines, therapeutics, and antiviral treatment; the care sector; government procurement and personal protective equipment; testing and tracing; government business and financial responses.  

Additionally, Baroness Hallett stated that the public will be able to participate through a “listening exercise” that would start later this year and collect the experiences of those who would be most impacted as well as “from those whose voices are not often heard”. 

 

Core Participant Status Applications

Within the Inquiry’s statement, guidance on Core Participant status has now been published. Applications for Core Participant status will be sought module-by-module and details and timescales will be published on the Inquiry’s website. 

All applications received by the Inquiry for core participant status will be determined by Baroness Hallett following Rule 5 of the inquiry rules 2006. The Inquiry’s ongoing areas of investigation are likely to be considered by Baroness Hallett when deciding whether to grant applications for core participant status. Instead of accepting applications from individuals or organisations, Baroness Hallett specifically invites groups of people and organisations with related interests as this will assist with the fair and efficient running of the Inquiry. 

Starting today, (21/07/2022) is the application process for those who wish to be considered as Core Participants to Module 1. The deadline for applications will be 16 August 2022. 

 

For more information on what has been announced, take a look at the full opening statement. or contact our Arfan Bhatti and Avikar Singh for a discussion on applying for Core Participant status.

 

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