“We cannot wait” to learn lessons from the coronavirus pandemic, an MP leading an inquiry into the government’s handling of the outbreak so far has told Sky News.
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Layla Moran said the “rapid inquiry” was needed before a potential second wave of COVID-19 later this year.
The Lib Dem MP and party leadership candidate told the programme that more than 50 MPs – including some Conservatives – are involved with the inquiry.
More than 1,000 submissions have been received so far, Ms Moran said.
The inquiry will hear evidence from bereaved families, health experts, professional bodies and the public, with final recommendations set to be published by the end of the summer.
Ms Moran added: “The vast majority have come from individuals who are suffering from long-lasting effects of coronavirus, they call it long-COVID.
“The other big group that’s written in on an individual basis are bereaved families where tragically one of their own passed away and I am really concerned about the mental support around them.
“We are going to release recommendations as we go, with a full report that will then sum all of that up by the end of September, but our view is that we cannot wait.”
The Oxford West and Abingdon MP said one of the questions the inquiry will try to answer is “what is the government’s overall strategy?”.
“We’ve seen other countries, including in the United Kingdom, say they are aiming for what is termed zero-COVID, zero transmission in the community of coronavirus, and they have done that by putting things in place like a proper test and trace system that works from start to finish, social distancing and clamping down on things like that earlier,” she said.
“We have not heard from Boris Johnson if that is what he is aiming for in England and the whole of the United Kingdom and that is one of the big questions, because if we aren’t aiming for zero-COVID before the autumn, then what do we need to do to make sure that the NHS is prepared?”
The prime minister has promised to set up an independent inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic, telling MPs earlier this month: “We will seek to learn the lessons of this pandemic in the future and certainly we will have an independent inquiry into what happened.”
Discussing her bid to be the next Lib Dem leader, Ms Moran said the survival of the party could be at stake in its leadership election.
The Lib Dems went into the last general election pledging to reverse Brexit, but saw former leader Jo Swinson lose her seat on a disappointing night for the party.
“It has now been three general elections in a row, we are bumping along at 6% in the polls, change has never been more necessary, in fact it’s essential for the survival of our party and what I want to do as leader is to reverse that decline,” Ms Moran said.
“This is a really critical moment for our party and unless we change and unless we move forward together, then I am seriously concerned about the future of the party.”
The party’s new leader will be announced at the end of August.
Sir Ed Davey, the party’s acting leader and a former cabinet minister in the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government, is also standing.