LONDON (AP) — The former British prime minister, Boris Johnson, struggled to understand much of the science during the coronavirus pandemic, his chief scientific advisor said Monday in keenly awaited testimony to the country’s public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patrick Vallance said he and others faced repeated problems getting Johnson to grasp the scientific concepts. “I think I’m right in saying that the prime minister gave up science at 15,” he said. “I think he’d be the first to admit it wasn’t his forte and that he struggled with the concepts and we did need to repeat them — often.”
Vallance also said Johnson was “bamboozled” by graphs and data and that watching him “get his head round stats is awful.” He added that while Johnson’s struggles were not unique, it was hard work sometimes to ensure that he had understood what a particular graph or piece of data was saying.
The UK has one of the highest COVID-19 death tolls in Europe, with over 230,000 people recorded as having died from the virus. Johnson is due to address the inquiry before Christmas after heavy pressure from bereaved families who have hit out at evidence emerging about his actions during the pandemic. The probe, led by retired Judge Heather Hallett, is expected to take three years to complete.