Covid: Matt Hancock announces new health agency focusing on preventing future pandemics

The government has launched a new public health body dedicated to further tackling Covid-19 and preparing the UK against future pandemic threats.

Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, will head up the UK Health Security Agency, which is to be established from 1 April.

The agency brings together the work of Public Health England (PHE), NHS Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to better co-ordinate Britain’s health protection and emergency strategies.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the new body will be a “dedicated, mission-driven national institution for health security”, one that is responsible for monitoring and responding to infectious disease outbreaks, and overseeing specialist laboratories at Porton Down.

“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.

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