Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness minutes: 3 November 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness on 3 November 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Professor Andrew Morris


  • Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak
  • Professor Julie Fitzpatrick
  • Dr Ian Campbell
  • Professor Linda Bauld
  • Professor Tom Evans
  • Richard Foggo
  • Dr Audrey MacDougall
  • Professor Massimo Palmarini
  • Christine McLaughlin
  • Dr Jim McMenamin
  • Professor Stephen Reicher
  • Professor Emma Thomson
  • Professor Mathew Williams
  • Professor Mark Woolhouse 


  • Redacted S.38 (1)(b)
  • Daniel Kleinberg 
  • Redacted S.38 (1)(b)
  • Redacted S.38 (1)(b)
  • Dr Arlene Reynolds
  • Professor Nicola Steedman
  • Redacted S.38 (1)(b)


  • Redacted S.38 (1)(b)
  • Redacted S.38 (1)(b)

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed Committee members to the meeting. Noting the important discussions on the agenda for today. 

National security risk assessment

The Committee was given a short presentation summarising the relevant portions of the National Security Risk Assessment (NSRA) and the ask for the Committee. This posed specific questions to the Committee, inviting their comments on the NSRA and Scottish Risk Assessment (SRA). 

[Redacted 3(2)(a)(ii), Redacted 30(b)(1),  – The NSRA and the SRA are not in the public domain. Information on these was shared in confidence with the Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness and for this reason minuted information has been redacted.]

The chair summarised by thanking officials and Committee members. 

Interim report – next steps

Updates on interim report recommendations

The Chair introduced the discussion on the interim report and invited updates across each of the four key recommendations. 

Data – a subgroup on data has been established with membership drawn from Public Health Scotland (PHS), Research Data Scotland (RDS), Scottish Government, and the academic community. The subgroup will meet for the first time on 18 November to consider existing challenges around the governance and permissions landscape for data in Scotland. The work of this group will tie into the upcoming Data Strategy for Health and Social Care. 

Collaboration – The first meeting of the International Reference Group (IRG) will mark the start of this work, with a consideration of the lessons that can be drawn from existing work in the UK and internationally. Other existing models for this collaboration are being investigated, including looking at groups such as the Centre of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks (EPIC). The Committee briefly discussed the functions of the Centre of Pandemic Preparedness. Among the functions this could have is a ready to go, epidemiological cohort, with ethics and structures in place so that the progress of disease can be monitored in real-time. This should also have a behavioural component built into this to monitor behaviour. 

Advice – ScotScience is engaging with a wide range of policy teams looking at the use of scientific evidence and advice. Assessing and evaluating risk is complex. Useful to know how policymakers interpret and make use of advice, modelling and evidence provided. The use of teach-ins during the pandemic was a positive way of making scientific evidence more accessible and understandable for policymakers. 

The Committee heard that it is likely that a subgroup will be needed to be set up to look at scientific advice across Scotland. At UK level, engagement is planned with the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) network and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) who will be visiting Scotland later this year. Advice from IRG will be sought on how to engage with international advisory networks. 

Innovation – work on this recommendation will need to be done in parallel with the pathway for innovation that is being developed across the system. This is part of a push for innovation and adoption in the NHS. 

The co-chairs of the working group on community engagement expressed their desire to reconvene this. This workstream is relevant to all recommendations and the Chair suggested it may be seen as cross-cutting the existing recommendations. The pros and cons of this will be considered by the working group co-chairs as there are some concrete actions that were being considered as part of their draft recommendations, such as engaging with hard to reach groups, looking at impact of policies on different communities (e.g. inequalities audit). 

The Chair provided an overview of the timeline for the work to be undertaken in 2023, noting that he would meet with the Secretariat on 9 December to agree a forward work plan. The final report to the First Minister is due within 18 months of the interim report. The aim will be to keep the report focussed, with a small number of recommendations. Work will also begin on engagement meetings, a series of four or five meetings with external stakeholders to be held between January and May, with first draft of the final report then ready in June. The Chair emphasised the value of connectivity, working side-by-side with policymakers to facilitate recommendations being translated into action. The Chair and Secretariat will meet with Richard Foggo and Christine McLaughlin once the forward work plan for 2023 has been mapped out. 

IRG meeting

The Committee considered draft questions to steer the IRG discussion. The questions on the interaction between government, industry, and academic will be interesting to gain insight from the IRG, in particular around how to coalesce expertise around a common purpose and which countries do this well. 

Keeping pandemic preparedness on the political agenda is likely to become a greater challenge as time passes. The Committee are interested in the views of the IRG on this, alongside how to maintain infrastructure (e.g. vaccine manufacturing) in peacetime, so these can be pivoted during pandemics. 

Another area the Committee are keen to raise with the IRG are systems of information and dealing with misinformation and what Scotland could learn from other countries. 


The Chair thanked Committee members for their participation. The next meeting will be held on 13th December with the Chair noting that this may be held in person.  

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