Video Icon

What Sir Patrick Vallance told the Covid inquiry — and why it matters

Europe’s scientific advisers, it seems, had a support group. Sometimes, said Sir Patrick Vallance, they called each other during the pandemic and compared notes.

Today we learnt that during one such call, someone — Vallance would not say who — made a confession. The scientist declared their leader had “enormous problems with exponential curves”, Vallance told the Covid inquiry. “The entire phone call burst into laughter — it was true in every country.”

If they all had frustrations with their bosses’ understanding of the basics, Vallance’s evidence suggests that his own problems might perhaps have been at the more extreme end. Unsurprisingly, given that Vallance says Boris Johnson quit the sciences aged 15, mathematics was an issue. “Watching PM get his head around stats is