UK’s plans for significant revisions to outbreak control agencies has questionable timing amid 40,000 death toll, says GlobalData

Following the news that UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced National Institution for Health Protection;

Michael Breen, Director of Infectious Diseases at GlobalData, offers his view:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed both global and national inefficiencies in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, and, in light of an estimate that there has been 40,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the UK, now was perhaps not the right time to scrap Public Health England (PHE).

“While the replacing structure is not expected to be complete until spring 2021, one has to wonder if now is the time to implement a change to any organization that deals with the outbreak, as any disruption to disease control capabilities could plunge the UK back down to where it was in April of this year, defeating the purpose of implementing changes in the first place.

“While it should be recognized that there is room to improve a nation’s ability to respond to a crippling outbreak, we must also consider how many issues were down to policy, and how many were due to not having a firm understanding the outbreak and the associated learning curve.

“With a novel pathogen, it cannot be expected that every decision made, especially early on, would be right. That said, improving operations and response capabilities will be beneficial, if done deliberately and with great forethought. While the UK is currently in a good place, in terms of daily new cases (~500/day), these numbers could easily tick upwards should there be any lapse in the plans that have controlled the outbreak.”

If you would like to find out more, please send your questions to Rebecca Panks, PR Executive at GlobalData (

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