FILE PHOTO - Secretary of State of Health Matt Hancock arrives in Downing Street, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), London, May 2, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Picture

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce that Public Health England (PHE) will be scrapped and replaced by a new body specifically designed to protect the country against a pandemic by early next month, The Telegraph newspaper reported.

Hancock will announce a merger of the pandemic response work of PHE with the National Health Service (NHS) Test and Trace into a new body, called the National Institute for Health Protection, the newspaper said on Saturday (Aug 15).

The move is aimed at bringing together the science expertise at PHE and scale of the NHS Test and Trace operation in one new body, so that the country can be prepared to stop a second coronavirus spike this autumn, according to The Telegraph.

“The National Institute for Health Protection’s goal will be simple: to ensure that Britain is one of the best equipped countries in the world to fight the pandemic,” a senior minister told The Telegraph.

The newspaper added that the change will be “effective” within the next month but it will take until the spring to formally complete the organisational change.

The new institute will be modelled on the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health agency, which played a pivotal role in responding to the pandemic, according to the newspaper.

PHE has come under increasing scrutiny in the UK for its handling of the Covid-19 crisis. The government adopted a new way of counting fatalities after concerns were raised that the old method followed by PHE overstated them. (Reuters)

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