The former British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, struggled to understand the science behind the coronavirus pandemic, his chief scientific advisor said Monday. In testimony to a public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, Patrick Vallance revealed that he and others faced repeated problems getting Johnson to comprehend complex concepts.
Vallance said that he believed Johnson struggled with the science of the pandemic from an early age. “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.”
The scientist also said that Johnson was often bamboozled by graphs and data and found it difficult to understand how they related to real-world situations. “Watching him get his head round stats is awful,” Vallance added.
Despite these challenges, Vallance emphasized that Johnson’s struggles were not unique. Many leaders around Europe had difficulties understanding the scientific evidence and advice during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020. However, he did note that there was one particular meeting with fellow advisers from across Europe where one country’s leader had enormous problems with exponential curves, which caused laughter among those present due to its universality across all countries involved.
The U.K.’s COVID-19 death toll is currently one of the highest in Europe, with over 232,000 people recorded as having died from COVID-19 as of now. Boris Johnson, who stepped down as prime minister in September 2021 following revelations about rule-breaking parties at his Downing Street residence during the pandemic, is expected to address this inquiry before Christmas. The probe will take three years to complete and has been initiated after heavy pressure from bereaved families who have criticized government actions during the crisis.
Overall, this article highlights how some politicians may struggle with understanding complex scientific concepts during times of crisis such as pandemics or natural disasters. It also underscores how important it is for leaders to seek guidance from experts in order to make informed decisions about public health measures.