Wuhan officials tried to suppress Covid information when the pandemic began, journal editors claim

Wuhan officials tried to suppress Covid information when the pandemic began, journal editors claim

Why was the investigation done?

There has been much criticism of the UK government’s handling of the pandemic, including the fact that the country appeared to lack a thorough plan to deal with such a major incident.

Other criticism of the government included discharging elderly people from hospital to care homes without testing, the lockdown too late in March 2020 and multi-billion NHS test and trace failures.

Families of those who lost loved ones to Covid campaigned for an independent inquiry into what happened.

Then Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was right that lessons had been learned, announcing an inquiry would be held in May 2021.

Will Boris Johnson be questioned? If so, when?

It is not clear when or if the former prime minister will be questioned. The full list of witnesses is yet to be released.

But since he was in charge of government for almost the entirety of the pandemic, his insights will prove central to understanding aspects of the nation’s response.

If called as a witness, he will be brought before the committee to testify.

What topics will the investigation cover?

There are currently six broad topics, called modules, that will be considered by the inquiry.

Module 1 will examine the UK’s resilience and preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic.

Module 2 will examine the decisions taken by Johnson and his ministers at the time, as advised by the Civil Service, senior political, scientific and medical advisers and relevant committees.

Decisions made by people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also be examined.

Module 3 will investigate the impact of Covid on the healthcare system, including patients, hospitals and other healthcare workers and staff.

This would include the controversial use of do not attempt resuscitation notices during a pandemic.

Module 4 will already evaluate Covid vaccines and therapeutics.

It will consider and make recommendations on various issues related to the development of the Covid vaccine and the implementation of the vaccine rollout program in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Modules 5 and 6 will open later this year, investigating public procurement and the care sector.

Who is in charge of the investigation?

Baroness Heather Hallett is in charge of the wider inquiry. And he’s no stranger to taking on high profile investigations.

The 72-year-old former Court of Appeal judge was tasked by Mr Johnson to chair a long-awaited public inquiry into the coronavirus crisis.

His handling of the investigation will be subject to rigorous scrutiny.

Until Baroness Hallett was asked to stand down, she was acting as coroner at the inquest into Dawn Sturgess, a 44-year-old British woman who died in July 2018 after exposure to the nerve agent Novichok.

He previously served as coroner for the inquest into the deaths of 52 people in the July 7, 2005 London bombings.

He also chaired the Iraq Fatalities Investigation as well as the 2014 Hallett Review of administration projects to tackle ‘on the run’ in Northern Ireland.

Baroness Hallett, a married mother of two, was nominated for a Life Peerage in 2019 as part of Theresa May’s resignation honours.

How long will it take?

When he launched the terms of reference for the inquiry in May 2021, Mr Johnson said he hoped it would be completed in a ‘reasonable timescale’.

But, in reality, it may take years.

It has no official deadline but hearings will be held across the UK until at least 2025.

The interim report will be published before the end of public hearings by the summer of 2026.

The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War began in 2009 but the final, damning documents were not released until 2016.

Meanwhile, the investigation into Bloody Sunday took nearly a decade.

Should a similar timescale be repeated for the Covid inquiry, it will deflect any criticism of the Tory government’s failure.


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