LONDON (AP) — Boris Johnson, the former British prime minister, struggled to comprehend much of the science during the coronavirus pandemic, his chief scientific advisor said Monday.
In keenly anticipated testimony to the country’s public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, Patrick Vallance said he and others faced repeated problems getting Johnson to understand the science.
“I think I’m right in saying that the prime minister gave up science at 15,” he said. “I think he’d be the first to admit it wasn’t his forte and that he struggled with the concepts and we did need to repeat them — often.”
Vallance said Johnson’s struggles were not unique and said many leaders around Europe had problems in understanding the scientific evidence and advice, especially in the first stages of the pandemic in early 2020.
“I would also say that the meeting that sticks in my mind was with fellow advisers from across Europe, when one of them — and I won’t say which country – declared that the leader of that country had enormous problems with exponential curves, and the telephone call burst into laughter, because it was true in every country,” he said.
The U.K. has one of the highest COVID-19 death tolls in Europe, with the virus recorded as a cause of death for more than 232,000 people. John