Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness minutes: 7 April 2022

Minutes of the meeting of the group on 7 April 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Professor Linda Bauld
  • Professor David Crossman
  • Professor Tom Evans
  • Professor Julie Fitzpatrick
  • Richard Foggo
  • Dr Graham Foster
  • Dr Audrey MacDougall
  • Professor Massimo Palmarini
  • Professor Nick Phin
  • Professor Stephen Reicher
  • Professor Aziz Sheikh
  • Professor Devi Sridhar
  • Professor Emma Thomson
  • Professor Matthew Williams
  • Professor Mark Woolhouse 


  • Professor Graham Ellis
  • Daniel Kleinberg
  • Dr Heather Owen
  • Dr Arlene Reynolds


  • Professor Sir Gregor Smith


Redacted: S.38 (1)(b)

Items and actions


The chair welcomed members to the second meeting of the Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness (the Committee) and noted apologies. 

Review of actions from previous meeting

The chair noted the change to the Committee’s name (the addition of ‘Preparedness’), the revised Terms of Reference and the commission from the First Minister and invited comments. The aim over the next 6-18 months would be to produce an interim and then a final report which sets out what good would look like in terms of suggestions to refine strategies for future pandemics.

With respect to the Terms of Reference a number of comments were made and the following changes will be considered by the Secretariat:

  • inclusion of reference to synthetic pathogen threats
  • explicit reference to NHS to be added
  • “Centre for Pandemic Preparedness” to be covered by other references
  • clarification of what is properly for the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Advisory Group (scientific advice on Covid) and what is for this Committee (future preparedness across pathogens)

There was discussion on the need to understand how the work of the Committee relates to other relevant work – from the Review of Emergency Preparedness Countermeasures through to work underway on adaptation and the built environment. The Terms of Reference need to be specific enough to allow for focused advice and avoid duplication while enabling the flows of information and strategic fit to be established, both with other groups and work programmes and plans. 

Action: Secretariat to provide a map of other relevant groups.

Scottish Government update

Richard Foggo spoke of the trust carried over from the COVID-19 Advisory Group and the recent deep dive with Ministers that was supported by the Committee and the importance of advice to support improvement of preparations for the next pandemic. Much of the work of the previous COVID-19 Advisory Group had perforce been tactical and reactive to the developing knowledge of and need to understand the progression of Covid. The aim with this work is to form a future strategic approach across a range of scenarios.

Commission from the First Minister

The terms of the Commission were welcomed and the ways of working were discussed. There was agreement that for phase 1 the working group model was too broad and needed refinement. It was agreed a face-to-face (with online participation) half-day workshop would be best way to take that forward. The aim is to provide a basis for the initial, short, report to cover the right themes - likely on the basis of ‘problem statements’ and resulting gap analyses. It should also identify those areas where immediate action needs to be identified. The addition of an NHS focused workstream is likely to be desirable but the themes agreed at the first meeting might not all require a separate group.

It was agreed that the group’s work should be transparent and papers published. The Committee should be able to talk critically and their advice should hold across different constitutional futures. Overlap between groups was noted, as was the difficulty of avoiding that and importance of the behavioural group – preparedness shouldn’t be confined to the state. Groups should be small to allow for progress.

Potential areas for focus included NHS preparedness, pandemic plans and governance that covered different types of pathogen as well as connections to the 100 days mission, public trust, ethics and the enablers of social resilience to pandemics. Preparedness is likely to require learning from the past, testing of systems and a close understanding of the developing public health system. The need to have plans that can frame a response to heterogeneous threats was noted - BSE, HIV, Swine flu, Ebola and Covid are all completely different. 

It was observed that much of this is not new ground – there is learning from previous pandemics and existing guidance that will need to inform the Committee’s thinking.

Summarising, the Chair noted the importance of humility – pandemics are lived forwards, understood backwards. There is a need to be strategic and focus on the principles and best practice in a Scottish context for the future. That suggests a review based on a problem statement approach across surveillance, diagnostics, behavioural and other aspects of preparedness including logistics to allow some focused advice on the 4 or 5 things that matter most, and which take account of previous learning and current componentry. This will draw on the current evidence landscape, including learnings and best practices from other countries’ experience of pandemics.

Action: Chair and Secretariat to propose refreshed work programme, arrange face-to-face meeting and identification an online platform for the development of the work.

Update on administrative arrangements

Daniel Kleinberg spoke briefly about the Committee’s administrative arrangements, noting that there would be scientific and analytical resource to support the Committee’s activities.


There being no other business, the chair thanked members for the very active and productive contributions to the discussions and closed the meeting.

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