Public Health England (PHE) is to be replaced by the government in anticipation of a second wave of COVID-19 this winter, it has been reported.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) will this week announce the creation of a new body, called the National Health Institute for Health Protection, through the merger of PHE and NHS Test and Trace.
The new body, which is expected to be up and running in September, is believed to be based on Germany’s Robert Koch Institute.
A senior minister told The Telegraph: “We want to bring together the science and the scale in one new body so we can do all we can to stop a second coronavirus spike this autumn.
“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.”
PHE, which was created in 2013 and currently employs around 5,500 staff, has been heavily criticised for its speed of response during the pandemic and the provision of testing.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Public Health England have played an integral role in our national response to this unprecedented global pandemic.
“We have always been clear that we must learn the right lessons from this crisis to ensure that we are in the strongest possible position, both as we continue to deal with COVID-19 and to respond to any future public health threat.”