It is vital that inquiries are held into the preparation for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such inquiries should be (a) broad, dealing with the range of factors that contributed to the outcomes achieved in the UK, and (b) deep, ensuring that the ultimate explanations for successes and failures are revealed. Reflecting the specifics of the constitutional settlement, there must be both a UK wide inquiry and separate ones in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It will be for the government in Westminster and the devolved nations, along with the chairs of the inquiries, to determine the terms of reference of each inquiry. These will inevitably vary, but all the inquiries must be inclusive and seek to take a comprehensive view of the pandemic response. This document is not an attempt to provide an all-embracing set of terms of reference. There will be many perspectives that need to be accommodated, none more significant than the concerns both of relatives of those who died with Covid and of the very many people whose health and livelihoods have been severely damaged by it.
Independent SAGE will actively support the holding of the inquiries. In this paper we offer assistance to officials and the public by suggesting some key elements that should be considered.