Matt Hancock, who was health secretary throughout the Covid-19 pandemic gave evidence to the UK Covid inquiry. Next week, Boris Johnson, will give evidence for two days. There are many who are following this inquiry with interest. I have no interest in the outcome of this inquiry, or even in following the evidence for two reasons.
First, in May 2021, I noted that this inquiry "could possibly end up being an exercise in which journalists, opposition parties and academics criticise the government that was in power, but with the benefit of hindsight". One of the problems with this inquiry is that this has become a trial led by lawyers, but who is on trial? And yet, for Covid-19, all living or visiting the UK just before or during the Covid pandemic have some degree of guilt and responsibility for the outcome. This includes everyone who engaged in activities that potentially might have contributed to the spread of the virus.
Second, in March 2020, I commenced to research the pandemic. One of the arguments made in my book Living with Pandemics: Places, People and Policy (2021) is that the one thing we know about all pandemics is that each will be different. This is a critical point. The UK Covid-19 inquiry is searching for those to blame. Really, the point of this inquiry should be to have a very rapid evaluation of the broad outcomes of the UK response to Covid-19 to identify any policy areas that require enhancement. Such an inquiry should take about a month and the policy learning points should have been implemented in 2022 or even in 2021. It is important to appreciate that the next pandemic might already have commenced, or it might commence tomorrow.