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We must learn from the past if we want to address the social impacts of Covid-19

Change is possible but not guaranteed, says the Chief Executive of the British Academy

By Hetan Shah  

William Beveridge proved that great hardship can spur great reform. Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Covid-19 has wrought immense destruction. It is not just the tragic death toll but lost access to education, rising unemployment, widening inequality and stresses on local communities. In the wake of this crisis, the demand is rightly that we build a better kind of society.

The stakes are high. While the UK’s successful vaccine rollout is helping to mitigate the health effects, the social impacts of the pandemic could cast a long shadow. Six months ago Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, asked the British Academy, as the national academy for the humanities and social sciences, to consider…

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