LONDON (AP) — Patrick Vallance, the former British chief scientific adviser, testified Monday that Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, struggled to understand much of the science during the coronavirus pandemic. In his keynote testimony to the country’s public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, Vallance revealed that he and others faced repeated problems getting Johnson to grasp complex scientific concepts.
Vallance said he believed that Johnson had never been particularly interested in science and that he struggled with understanding graphs and data. He added that many other European leaders had similar challenges in comprehending the scientific evidence and advice during the early stages of the pandemic.
The U.K. has one of the highest COVID-19 death tolls in Europe, with more than 232,000 people dying from the virus. The inquiry led by retired Judge Heather Hallett is expected to take three years to complete and will examine Johnson’s actions during his time as prime minister.
Johnson was forced to step down as prime minister in September 2021 following revelations of rule-breaking parties at his Downing Street residence during the pandemic. The probe is a result of heavy pressure from bereaved families who have criticized Johnson’s actions and called for accountability for those responsible for the outbreak’s devastating impact on their loved ones.