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The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)

COVID-19 variants. Bioterrorism. Environmental contamination. The UK Health and Security Agency stands stand at the front line in protecting the nation from infectious diseases and future threats to public health. As a new government agency replacing Public Health England (PHE), it’s equally committed to reducing the health inequalities in the UK.

What is it?

Established in August 2020 under the Department of Health and Social Care, the agency is empowered to take swift action at a local, national and global level against serious health threats such as coronavirus variants, future pandemics and environmental contamination. UKHSA replaces Public Health England and encompasses NHS Test and Trace, and the Joint Biosecurity Centre. The agency consists of a team of dedicated scientists, clinicians and project leaders supported by cutting-edge technologies, data science and world-leading clinical partners.

The agency provides intellectual, scientific and operational leadership in the face of present and impending dangers to national health. As a key player in Harwell’s Health Tech cluster, the agency is ideally positioned to respond quickly to chemical, radiation and environmental hazards.

Since becoming fully operational April 2021, it’s uploaded over a million COVID-19 whole genome sequences to the international GISAID database supporting efforts to control the pandemic. Working closely with the life science sector, it plays a critical role in developing vaccines to protect the population against future generations of infectious diseases.
One of the UKHSA’s main directives is to tackle the stark health inequalities in our society. We undertake vital research to understand the range of factors that determine health outcomes, for example in the field of mental health, obesity, heart and lung disease, to help reduce the impacts on the most disadvantaged.

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