On Monday, former chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance testified at the UK’s public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated that Boris Johnson struggled to understand much of the science during his time as Prime Minister. Vallance mentioned that he and others encountered repeated difficulties in getting Johnson to comprehend the science, but also 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 testimony from Vallance provides further insight into the challenges faced by scientists trying to advise government leaders during a global crisis.
The public inquiry aims to investigate the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and identify any lessons that can be learned for future crises. The testimony from Vallance highlights the importance of effective communication between scientists and policymakers, particularly during times of crisis. It also underscores the need for leaders to listen carefully to scientific evidence and advice if they are to make informed decisions that benefit their countries and citizens.