In a highly anticipated testimony to the UK’s public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, Patrick Vallance, former chief scientific advisor to Boris Johnson, revealed that the former prime minister struggled to understand much of the science during the pandemic. According to Vallance, he and other advisors repeatedly faced problems getting Johnson to grasp scientific concepts and evidence.
Vallance stated that he believed Johnson was not unique in this struggle and many leaders around Europe had similar challenges in understanding scientific evidence and advice, particularly during the early stages of the pandemic. He also shared an anecdote about a meeting with fellow advisors from across Europe where one country’s leader had difficulty with exponential curves, which led to laughter due to its accuracy across all countries.
The UK has recorded over 232,000 COVID-19 deaths, making it one of the highest death tolls in Europe. Boris Johnson resigned as prime minister in September 2021 following allegations of rule-breaking parties at his Downing Street residence during the pandemic. The public inquiry into his actions is being led by retired Judge Heather Hallett and is expected to take three years to complete. The families of those affected by Johnson’s actions have been advocating for a public inquiry for some time now.