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Science and Technology Committee publish report on use of scientific advice throughout pandemic

 

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has today published its analysis of the way the Government has received, and applied, scientific evidence and advice during the first period of the coronavirus pandemic - which references key advice and actions taken by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The report distils the evidence from scientists and policy makers given at a number of oral evidence sessions contemporaneous with rapidly evolving policy decisions, and from written submissions from leading experts - including evidence provided through the NIHR.

As part of the overall analysis, the report outlines the key role that NIHR played in generating key scientific evidence since the onset of the pandemic - including the measures taken to enable rapid therapeutic and vaccine development through NIHR’s fast-tracked delivery of Covid-19 urgent public health research.

This includes the mandated prioritisation of nationally sponsored Covid-19 research; the temporary pausing of NIHR-funded or supported non–Covid-19 clinical research unless doing so would “have significant detrimental effects on the ongoing care of individual participants”; and the subsequent framework put in place to restart non-Covid-19 research in May 2020.

The report also references the role that NIHR played in enabling the rapid set up of the Government’s Vaccine’s Taskforce through seconded staff.

Summarising key evidence taken by the cross-party group of MPs from March to November 2020, the report draws from the evidence a number of assessments and recommendations for the Government to take forward as it navigates the current and later stages of the coronavirus pandemic and future emergencies.

The report's key findings include:

  • The Government has been serious about taking scientific advice, and the structures for this have effectively obtained and made use of the analysis and expertise of scientists of international repute. It should continue to do so.
  • The length of the pandemic has placed exceptional demands on the people contributing their expertise and on the structures, which were designed for shorter term emergencies. The Government should consider how to support the resilience of the arrangements for longer term operation
  • It has been important and reassuring for the public to see and hear directly from senior scientists and that should continue. The public have become familiar with the importance of data and statistics to explain the need for policy responses.

Find out more

For more information and to view the report in full, visit the UK Parliament website.