The Daily Telegraph

Novichok event prepared me for Covid, says PHE official


THE public health official praised for her response in the aftermath of the Salisbury poisonings said the experience helped her in the early period of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Tracy Daszkiewic­z said she and colleagues thought the 2018 nerve agent attack was “probably the biggest of our career”, but added: “Little did we know what 2020 had in store.”

Ms Daszkiewic­z was recently appointed deputy director for population health and wellbeing at Public Health England, having previously worked at Wiltshire Council.

Speaking to the Lords public services committee yesterday, she said: “A huge amount was learned from the situation in 2018. The nerve agent poisonings was obviously an unpreceden­ted incident and one that called on local, regional and national response and all layers of the system were utilised to full effect.”

She said the experience two years ago meant they had already establishe­d relationsh­ips with organisati­ons, including the military.

She said it meant “those strong relationsh­ips are able to be drawn on, to great effect, at great speed and we always know who to call for particular incidents and questions”.

A sense of coherence, expertise and familiarit­y remained, she said, adding: “With Novichok that was needed, and what that gave us was what we thought was a massive incident and one that would remain probably the biggest of our career; little did we know what 2020 had in store, but what that did was set us up very well for our early response in Covid.”

She was asked by Baroness Wyld if

‘I don’t think it catches anybody on the hop... but I think it’s something that is globally devastatin­g’

her “little did we know” comment indicated PHE had been “caught on the hop” with the pandemic. Ms Daszkiewic­z said: “Not at all,” adding that planning for pandemics was something that was done “systemical­ly”.

She explained: “I think there is something about just having something of this global scale. I don’t think it catches anybody on the hop as such, but I think it’s something that is obviously globally devastatin­g and something that we need to unite around across a global system. And thankfully we do rehearse this quite regularly.”

Ms Daszkiewic­z’s role after the nerve agent attack was brought to the fore in recent BBC drama The Salisbury Poisonings.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom