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For Future Pandemics

The UK is launching a new health agency aimed at preventing and responding to future pandemics, the Guardian reports.

The agency, called the UK Health Security Agency, is to be led by Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, it adds. Harries previously served on the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunization. The Guardian further notes that UKHSA, which is to formally launch at the start of April, replaces the National Institute for Health Protection, which was itself established in August.

The new UKHSA is "to plan for, prevent, and respond to external health threats," according to a press release. In particular, the agency is to combine analytical and genomic capabilities with testing and contact tracing efforts.

"With the creation of the UKHSA, we have an unprecedented opportunity to build on the scientific and operational strength that has been developed, learn from the past, and further develop strong bonds with health protection leadership from global to local to ensure we are ready for the challenges of the future," Harries says in a statement.