The government has launched a new public health body devoted to tackling the current coronavirus crisis, as well as preparing the UK against future pandemics.
The agency, named the UK Health Security Agency (UKSA), was announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock during at the Local Government Association virtual conference.
The UKSA will bring together the work of Public Health England, NHS Test & Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre and will be led by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries.
Matt Hancock said the agency will be a “dedicated, mission-driven national institution for health security”.
“UKSA, as it will be known, will be this country’s permanent standing capacity to plan, prevent and respond to external threats to health,” he told a Local Government Association virtual conference. It will deploy “the full might of our analytic and genomic capability on infectious diseases,” he added.
“Even after years without a major public health threat, UKSA must be ready, not just to do the science, but to respond at unbelievable pace.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the world-leading capabilities of the country’s public health science, and it has also shown the challenges of protecting the nation’s health are changing at an unprecedented pace, as new types of threats emerge.”
Dr Jenny Harries said: “The UKHSA will be agile in its responses, maximise the benefits of high-quality data, be relentless in its mission to rapidly identify and respond to new threats whilst working seamlessly with academia, scientists, industry and local communities.”
The UKHSA will be established from April 1 and is expected to be fully operational by Autumn.