So, according to a Channel 4 investigation, some 45% of the 2009 national pandemic stockpile was past its use-by date by the time COVID-19 was declared a national pandemic on 30 January 2020. Some 200 million respirators, masks, syringes and other vital kit were officially unsafe, despite many attempts to pretend otherwise by extending those use-by dates, often repeatedly.
Expiry dates are nothing new, and anyone designing a national pandemic stockpile would, or should, have been aware that items within it would expire as the years passed. I’m no expert but I would imagine that a sensible process would be to distribute items to the NHS from the stockpile as they approach their use-by dates, and then replenish the stockpile with new items.
It’s hardly rocket science, but when there is a public enquiry into the government’s handling of COVID-19 (and there better be one), I would very much like to know exactly what its policy was for insuring the stockpile was kept up to date.
Perhaps more frightening is that someone thought it was OK to extend those use-by dates, and instructed a whole load of people to do so. In the UK, and indeed throughout the civilised world, it is an offence to change the use-by dates on food. I’m not looking for a prosecution here, but I sure would like that person to stand up and explain their reasoning in public. And then I would like to know that they will never work in public service again.