On Monday, former chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance testified at the UK’s public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that Boris Johnson struggled to understand much of the science during his time as Prime Minister. Vallance noted that he and others encountered repeated difficulties in getting Johnson to comprehend the science, but also mentioned that leaders in many countries faced similar problems in understanding scientific evidence and advice.
The inquiry is expected to delve into a number of aspects of the UK’s response to the pandemic, including the government’s handling of lockdowns and social distancing measures. It will also examine whether there were any conflicts of interest or political considerations that influenced key decisions made during the crisis.
Johnson stepped down as Prime Minister in September 2022 following revelations of rule-breaking parties at his Downing Street residence during the pandemic. He has since been replaced by Rishi Sunak, who is expected to address the inquiry before Christmas. The findings of the investigation are likely to have significant implications for both Johnson and Sunak, as well as for broader questions about how governments should respond to future crises.