Exercise Cygnus was a simulation exercise carried out by NHS England in October 2016 to estimate the impact of a hypothetical H2N2 influenza pandemic on the United Kingdom. The exercise showed that the pandemic would cause the country's health system to collapse from a lack of resources, with Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer at the time, stating that a lack of medical ventilators and the logistics of disposal of dead bodies were serious problems. As of April 2020[update], the full results of the exercise remained classified.
The Daily Telegraph reported one government source as saying that the results of the simulation were "too terrifying" to be revealed. According to the Telegraph, the exercise led to assumptions that a "herd immunity" approach would be the best response to a similar epidemic.
In late April 2020, The Observer reported that the government had been threatened with legal action over demands to publish the results of the study. The report, classified as "Official - Sensitive", was leaked and published in full in The Observer's sister paper The Guardian (except for redaction of some contact details) on 7 May 2020.
- Bale, Donna (25 January 2017). "POWYS PANDEMIC INFLUENZA PLANNING UPDATE 2016" (PDF). powysthb.wales.nhs.uk.
- Nuki, Paul; Gardner, Bill (28 March 2020). "Exercise Cygnus uncovered: the pandemic warnings buried by the government". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
- David Pegg (7 May 2020). "What was Exercise Cygnus and what did it find?". The Guardian.
- Carrington, Damian (29 March 2020). "UK strategy to address pandemic threat 'not properly implemented'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
- Lambert, Harry (16 March 2020). "Government documents show no planning for ventilators in the event of a pandemic". New Statesman. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
- Smyth, Chris (27 December 2016). "NHS fails to cope with bodies in flu pandemic test". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
- "Nick Ferrari's extraordinary exchange with Care Minister over pandemic test exercise". LBC. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
- Hope, Christopher (24 April 2020). "Jeremy Hunt says he has no problem with Government's 2016 pandemic report being published". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
- Gardner, Bill; Nuki, Paul (18 April 2020). "Covid-19 strategies: Britain planned for herd immunity while Asia intended to contain virus". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
- Doward, Jamie (26 April 2020). "If ministers fail to reveal 2016 flu study they 'will face court'". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
- Pegg, David; Booth, Robert; Conn, David (7 May 2020). "Revealed: the secret report that gave ministers warning of care home coronavirus crisis" – via www.theguardian.com.
- NHS England board paper, March 2017
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