Patrick Vallance, the former chief scientific advisor to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, testified at the country’s public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday. During his testimony, Vallance stated that he and others encountered repeated difficulties in getting Johnson to understand much of the science during his time as Prime Minister. He noted that leaders in many countries faced similar problems in understanding scientific evidence and advice.
Johnson stepped down as Prime Minister in September 2022 following revelations of rule-breaking parties at his Downing Street residence during the pandemic and is scheduled to address the inquiry before Christmas. The public inquiry aims to investigate the UK’s response to the pandemic and assess whether it could have been better handled.
The testimony by Vallance sheds light on some of the challenges that scientists faced when trying to communicate their findings and advice to political leaders during the pandemic. It also highlights how difficult it can be for political leaders to fully comprehend complex scientific concepts and data. The public inquiry is expected to provide a detailed account of how decisions were made during the pandemic, including any mistakes or oversights that may have occurred.