Dr Jenny Harries (Photo: Julian Simmonds - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

New chief executive of the UKHSA, Dr Jenny Harries marked her first day with a visit to the Colindale laboratories in North London last week.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) boss was accompanied by health secretary Matt Hancock.

“The visit, timed to mark the formal establishment of the UKHSA, focused on the work being done to help the UK understand and respond to new variants of the virus causing Covid-19, and the extensive expertise being deployed to monitor the roll-out of the vaccine programme as well as the ongoing monitoring and surveillance of the infection,” Public Health England (PHE) said in a statement.

Dr Harries and Hancock spoke to the team involved in developing the original test for Covid-19, which began work as soon as reports first emerged from China about it originating.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive, UKHSA said: “It is a significant moment as the work of the UKHSA begins with a specific focus on pandemics and public health threats. We have learned so much from responding to Covid-19 and this is a brilliant opportunity to ensure these lessons can be applied in the future, with the scale and capacity needed to save lives and protect the public.

“Health protection needs to be noisy, be visible, so people are aware of how much work is happening to protect communities.

“There is work to do right away as we continue our fight against Covid-19, even with the success of our vaccine programme so far, and the tentative steps we have made on the roadmap to return to normality. The UKHSA will work with our regional, national and global partners to tackle this virus while ensuring we are ready to face future health challenges.”

Health secretary Hancock said: “This is an important day as we launch the UK Health Security Agency to ensure that we protect the public and prepare for the next pandemic.

“The team working at UKHSA, expertly led by Dr Jenny Harries, will spend every day focused on the current and future health threats facing our country so we are always ready for whatever is on the horizon.”

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