Covid has highlighted UK’s vulnerability to disruption in overseas supplies (with PPE being the prime example in the pandemic) and the Government’s apparent inability to mobilise sufficient internal capacity to supply its needs. The expectation is that Government has identified areas where the health of the country is at risk and have plans in place to deal with sudden shortages. It is to be hoped that the Government have a list of commodities that are essential to the well-being of people of this country but the costly panic that ensued over PPE supplies, with the associated accusations of corruption and incompetence, suggests it failed to prepare or implement any contingency plans. Recent reports that vaccine production is being delayed because of vial production on Germany begs the question why these can’t be manufactured here. We now have an opportunity to review what the country needs in the event of a pandemic or other national crisis and work with industry to identify what needs to be in place to protect the public, without reverting to costly stockpiling. Principally we need to put the manufacturing capacity in place that can be ramped up when need be and have plans in place that would allow manufacture to be increased. Its not just equipment; a large proportion of active pharmaceutical ingredients come from overseas. The UK manufacturing base has been contracting without any obvious consideration of the strategic consequences; engineering, steel, munitions for the defence of the country are a few examples where the country is dependent on imports and expose the country to adverse events beyond its control.
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