THE UK entered the COVID-19 pandemic less resilient to a public health crisis when compared with India, the United States, Australia and Canada – positioned ‘below average’ amongst the D-10 club of democracies, according to a new study.
The findings come in a report published today by the Henry Jackson Society into levels of national resilience. Using a 10-component, 30-indicator weighted methodology, the study finds that the UK is, overall, less resilient than the USA, Canada, and Australia.
When re-weighed to focus on factors especially relevant to public health crisis responses, the UK falls below the average of its global democratic comparators. This measure’s indicators include ‘health system robustness’, which factors in protection for frontline healthcare workers and treating the sick.
However, the UK scores strongly in three components of national resilience; trust in law and order, critical infrastructure, and technological prowess. The trust placed by the public in the UK’s law and order, is reflected in the UK’s relatively strong performance in the re-weighed “terrorism resilience” indicator within the report.
The overarching measurement of national resilience, which includes 10 components — trust in civil society, trust in democratic governance, trust in law and order, critical infrastructure, technological prowess, government capacity, altruism, population resilience, national identity and belonging, and public optimism/national happiness — places the UK fourth amongst the D-10: higher than major EU member-states such as Germany, France, and Italy, but below ‘Five Eyes’ allies such as the USA, Canada, and Australia.
The D-10 rankings are:
- USA – 100
- Canada – 99.79
- Australia – 96.54
- United Kingdom – 95.57
- Germany – 93.75
- India – 93.11
- D-10 Average – 91.29
- France – 87.94
- Japan – 85.70
- South Korea – 82.94
- Italy – 77.56
The report recommends that the UK should publish the results of Exercise Cygnus, a 2016 Government programme which examined the UK’s pandemic preparedness. It also recommends that the UK more closely integrates health resilience into its national security apparatus both through new “Situation Awareness Teams” and by applying lessons from the UK’s “CBRNE” strategy.
In the Words of the Authors
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that the UK must do more to build up its national resilience. In the post-Brexit world, the UK needs to work on boosting public trust in central government, creating high-quality domestic supply chains for critical medical supplies, and improving social systems which help to protect the most vulnerable.”
Dr Rakib Ehsan
“Public health events have the capacity to cause disruption similar in scale to that of terror or hostile state activity. It is important that government systems recognise this in their outlook.”