The UK Covid-19 Inquiry and LSHTM

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry is an independent public inquiry into the UK's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first preliminary public hearings began in October 2022 with witnesses giving in-person testimony from 13 June 2023.

The Inquiry will examine areas such as the UK's preparedness for the pandemic, the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions (including ‘lockdowns’), pandemic management in hospitals and care homes, procurement, and financial support.

LSHTM scientists are among around 200 scientists who have been asked to submit written evidence to the Inquiry. A number of LSHTM scientists will be called to give in-person testimony.

Witnesses, including LSHTM scientists, gave evidence in-person at the Inquiry's module 1 (resilience and preparedness) public hearings which took place 13 June-19 July 2023. Witnesses are being called for the module 2 (High level political and administrative decision making) public hearings which began on 3 October 2023.

During the pandemic many clinically-trained staff and students from LSHTM voluntarily returned to work in the NHS. Other LSHTM staff gave their expertise for free as members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and its various sub-groups including the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) and the Independent Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B).

As members of these SAGE sub-groups, LSHTM scientists worked closely with experts from other institutions to reach a consensus on the best scientific evidence available at the time and provide evidence to SAGE. The UK Government then used this evidence to inform its decision-making, with ministers taking into account factors such as economic and societal impacts that were outside the remit of these sub-groups.

LSHTM scientists also worked with a wide range of other UK and international advisory bodies to provide scientific advice about the pandemic to governments and the public.

LSHTM’s hugely valuable contribution to research into COVID-19 and public understanding of the pandemic was recognised with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize awarded for this work.

Highlights of key LSHTM achievements during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • LSHTM quickly formed an institutional taskforce to direct research priorities, collaborations, and new initiatives to tackle the challenges of COVID-19.
  • Clinically-trained staff and students immediately returned to work in the NHS, while staff and alumni based in Africa scaled up surveillance, diagnostics, and testing.
  • Our experts were at the forefront of national and global efforts, from modelling the spread, control measures and impact of the virus, to tracking attitudes to vaccines.
  • In March-April 2020 LSHTM developed a COVID-19 free online course that reached more than 200,000 participants around the globe.
  • We continued to deliver our courses throughout the pandemic: training future health leaders, managers and researchers to provide critical expertise to deal with the impact of this pandemic for years to come.
  • Our experts and communications team helped to tackle a wave of misinformation about COVID-19 explaining the latest scientific evidence about the virus and efforts to control it.