He Scientific advisor head of the British government during the pandemic, Patrick Vallanceharshly attacked the UK’s top political leaders during his appearance on Monday before the covid commission. During more than five hours of testimony, Vallance reviewed notes from his personal journal, written during the worst months of the pandemic, in which he recorded the “absolute lack of leadership” of the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the inability of members of the government to make decisions that would help end the escalation of deaths and infections in the country.
The scientist assured that Johnson had difficulty understanding statistics several times and seemed “perplexed”. “Sometimes it was difficult to ensure that he had understood what a graph or specific information said,” admitted Vallance, who underlined the weak scientific training of the former Prime Minister, a graduate in classics at the University of Oxford. “The Prime Minister wonders if we exaggerated the lethality of this disease. He oscillates between optimism and pessimism… and remains confused with the different types of tests,” Vallance wrote in his personal notes presented this Monday before the commission.
THE constant fluctuations in the decision-making of Johnson and his ministers lasted months cause of frustration scientific advisers, who denounced the lack of clear instructions and the enormous influence that the media, some openly opposed to confinement, had on the former prime minister. Vallance also criticized the then Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, whom he accuses of having made statements without any knowledge. “He definitely said things with too much conviction and that surprised me, because I knew that They had no scientific basis“.
The former government adviser also attacked the current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak (then Finance Minister), for his “dogmatic” attitude in advocating the reopening of the economy. In one of his personal notes, Vallance collected some statements from Johnson’s right-hand man, Dominique Cummingsin which he claimed that Sunak believed that “It was okay to let people die.”. The then Minister of Finance promoted the campaign “Eat out, help”which aimed to stimulate the economy of the hospitality sector with financial aid to consumers, which Vallance said contributed to the increase in infections in the second half of 2020.
The slow response from ministers had an impact inevitable impact of the number of infections and deaths in the United Kingdom, explained the scientist, who stressed that decisions had to be made “faster, stronger and wider”. In one of the notes consulted this Monday by the committee, Vallance describes ministers as “tame as mice” and criticizes their reluctance when it comes to supporting the application of new restrictions. Some point out that the former Government advisor attributed to “chaotic” situation that was what we were experiencing at that time.
Vallance’s statements are part of the investigation into the independent commission of covid, created in mid-2022 with the aim of clarifying what the level of preparation of the country’s medical services in the face of a pandemic with these characteristics, as well as to highlight the processes that were followed in decision-making and debugging responsibilities. Several senior government officials, including Hancock and Sunak, have already appeared before committee chair Baroness Heather Hallett, who plans to hear statements from other government scientific advisers this week. The final conclusions of the research will not be published until 2026.