The inquiry will start in spring 2022 and have legal powers to take oral evidence in public under oath.
The Prime Minister said the inquiry will place the state’s actions “under the microscope” and the Government will coordinate with devolved administrations before finalising its terms.
Mr Johnson set out details of the inquiry to the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon. He said: “Amid such tragedy the state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as candidly as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future – which is why I’ve always said when the time is right there should be a full and independent inquiry.”
The PM warned of highly transmissible variants and a potential surge this winter, adding: “So I expect that the right moment for the inquiry to begin is at the end of this period in the spring of next year, spring 2022.”
He also pledged his support for a covid memorial in St Paul’s Cathedral and said the Government will establish a commission on commemorating the pandemic.