Social Care Leader Fears Vaccine-Resistant Virus Could Strike Sooner Rather Than Later
A social care leader fears the world could be hit by a new pandemic sooner rather than later.
Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales, is concerned it could pose an even greater threat if it involves a vaccine-resistant virus.
It was therefore, said Mr Kreft, vital that the inquiry into the current crisis should focus on the lessons learned rather than getting bogged down in a blame culture.
He praised the Welsh Government for providing better and more effective support to the social care sector than had been the case in other parts of the UK.
A UK-wide inquiry is due to get underway next Spring, with First Minister Mark Drakeford resisting calls for a Wales-specific review.
According to Mr Kreft, that was a sensible approach because it would be impossible to completely separate what happened in the different nations of the UK.
Mr Kreft said: “We have done things differently here in Wales and it’s very important that we understand what’s happened here, particularly how we can avoid this in future.
“We will have to learn to live with this disease and it’s possible it will come back in a form that evades the vaccine. It is therefore vitally important that we learn these lessons.
“What we need is an over-arching UK-wide review and within that we need to look at what happened here in Wales and the other nations – an inquiry within an inquiry if you like.
“The way the social care sector has been supported in Wales is very different to the rest of the UK and we are grateful to the Welsh Government for the financial aid at a time when it was most needed.
“A public inquiry will clearly flag up certain issues where things have gone wrong but it won’t necessarily reflect the collaboration and support the sector has had from the Welsh Government.
“There is a greater understanding in Wales about how the sector fits into and integrates with the health service.
“It’s important to understand that in a devolved administration here in Wales and the only way to do that would be to have a separate review that would report into an overall UK-wide inquiry, along with similar reviews in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“We should also remember that the UK has done some things exceptionally well, notably the procurement and roll out of the vaccines which has been a remarkable success story.
“Initially, Wales was a bit slow out of the blocks but is now out in front in terms of vaccinating our population and that’s something we can be proud of.
“An inquiry of this nature should not be about creating a blame culture – it should be about learning lessons about how to do better if we are struck by another pandemic.
“The one thing that’s clear is that the world was not ready for the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a crisis that has not been faced by people in living memory.
“The main purpose of this inquiry should be to ensure that we are ready for the next one – sadly, it is a case of when not if.
“There is nobody who is suggesting that this is going to go away, if this mutates into a strain that is resistant to the vaccine.
“The next one could be very soon – a lot sooner than a 100 years.
“What we need to do ensure that get ourselves ready and that we do not have to rely on an international supply chain that is fragile and unreliable.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The UK-wide inquiry has been agreed between all four nations.
“We have requested specific chapters of the inquiry deal exclusively with the lived experiences of those here in Wales.
“A UK-wide inquiry will have the capacity and force to oversee the interconnected nature of the decisions that have been made across the four nations and is the best way for the experiences of people in Wales to be properly understood.”