An expert group of leading scientists and medical specialists, set up to advise the SNP Government on preparing for the threat of future pandemics, met for the first time on Thursday, 19 August.
The Standing Committee on Pandemics will be tasked with ensuring that the country is as prepared as possible for any future risks from novel pathogens.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf MSP said:
"Scotland's world-class scientific expertise has been evident throughout the pandemic and this committee will help ensure we are as ready as we can be for any future threat.
"The immediate challenge will be to continue to ensure we can respond to the current pandemic but we know that infectious disease outbreaks could become more frequent in the coming decade.
"Our public health capacity has been significantly strengthened across Scotland as a result of COVID-19 to manage outbreaks both at national and local level.
“This new committee will help bolster our readiness.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“While we can say we have weathered the pandemic and most people are able to enjoy this summer with a reasonable degree of normality, we must never forget the cost of this public health crisis.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic 8,058 people in Scotland have died and our thoughts remain with their families. In addition, lockdown has had a profound and, in all likelihood, long-lasting effect on our economy.
“While the coronavirus pandemic has been unlike anything we had experienced in our lifetime, World Health Organization experts have warned that this has not necessarily been “the big one”.
“It is crucial that we do everything we can to ensure preparedness, even though we appear to be out of the woods.”
The existing COVID-19 advisory group will continue to sit and advise Ministers on the current pandemic. The new committee will focus on preparedness for other future emerging threats.
At the first meeting, the Committee discussed its future work programme and remit.
The Committee will provide expert advice across a range of areas including public health, epidemiology, virology, behavioural sciences, global health, zoonotics and statistical modelling and recruit further members to support that.
The establishment of the group was a commitment of the new SNP Government to deliver during its first 100 days in office.