A BEEFED-UP “pandemic-busting” body will be launched today to stop Britain being overwhelmed by Covid again.
Matt Hancock will reveal details of the new UK Health Security Agency, which will start work from April 1.
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A new ‘pandemic-busting’ body, the UK Health Security Agency, will start work on April 1Credit: Alamy
Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, will be put in charge and tasked with tackling Covid as well as protecting Brits from future threats.
The pandemic-fighting agency will be fully operational by autumn and replace the short-lived National Institute for Health Protection, whose interim boss Baroness Dido Harding will step down next month.
It will bring together Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace, as well as the analytical capability of the Joint Biosecurity Centre under one roof.
The Health Secretary has said the new agency will have a “single and relentless mission” of protecting Brits from biological weapons and killer outbreaks.
However, PHE’s health improvement work – such as tackling obesity and cutting smoking – is expected to be taken on by the Department of Health and Social Care.
A health source said: “We will finally have the pandemic-busting agency this country needs.
“It is specifically designed to bring together the best science to help beat this pandemic and prevent the next one.”
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Jenny Harries, will head up the new agencyCredit: AFP
Matt Hancock said the agency will protect Brits from biological weapons and killer outbreaksCredit: Reuters
Ministers took the decision to scrap Public Health England last year after it was widely-criticised for its “sluggish” handling of the Covid crisis.
It comes as health bosses are hiring a “Lessons Learnt Analyst” for the NHS Test and Trace programme.
The scheme was recently slammed by MPs for failing to have a proven impact on the pandemic despite its colossal £37billion budget.
The new role, which pays up to £45,998 annually, will be tasked with “identifying opportunities for improvement”.
The successful candidate will report into the Continuous Improvement Unit, with benefits including working from home, flexible hours and a Civil Service pension.
Boris Johnson promised Test and Trace would be “world-beating” when it launched last May.
But MPs have warned there is “no clear evidence” it has contributed to a reduction in Covid infection levels.
In a damning report, ministers were told to stop treating British taxpayers like a “cash machine” after splurging billions on the controversial scheme.
Health bosses are now hoping the new hire will finally help Test and Trace live up to its promise.
After its launch, the PM said the scheme will help stamp out outbreaks where they occur by “identifying hot-spots to do whack-a-mole”.
The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.
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