Boris Johnson was “bamboozled” by data during the Covid-19 pandemic, a public inquiry into his government’s response to the global health crisis heard on Monday.
Former chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said Johnson, who was prime minister at the time, sometimes struggled to retain scientific information.
In one entry from May 4, 2020 recalling a meeting with Johnson about schools, Vallance wrote: “My God, this is complicated. Models will not provide the answer. PM is clearly bamboozled.”
Another, written in the same month, said: “PM asking whether we’ve overdone it on the lethality of this disease. He swings between optimism pessimism, and then this.”
Vallance wrote in June that watching Johnson get his head round stats was hard work. “He finds relative and absolute risk almost impossible to understand,” he said.
Another notebook entry from Vallance described Johnson as “distressed” at seeing attendees in face masks and socially distanced at a Battle of Britain memorial service in September that year.
Vallance said Johnson, who has been criticised at the inquiry by a string of former senior advisers, described the scene as “mad and spooky,…
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