‘There isn’t any such factor as “the” science’, Sir Patrick Vallance says

  • Sir Patrick Vallance, No10’s former prime scientist, stored a diary throughout pandemic
  • He stated he had ‘no intention’ of his notes ‘ever seeing the sunshine of day’

Sir Patrick Vallance immediately stated it was ‘fully mistaken’ that ministers hid behind their insistence that they had been merely ‘following the science’ throughout Covid.

Addressing the Covid Inquiry, No10’s ex-chief scientific adviser argued there may be ‘no such factor because the science’ as a result of it’s ‘a shifting physique of information’. Policymakers ‘hid behind this at instances’, he argued.

The ‘following the science’ time period, wheeled out at Downing Street press briefings on the top of the pandemic and used to justify lockdown restrictions, was taken to imply that the Government was ‘slavishly’ following recommendation, Sir Patrick stated. 

Sir Patrick, who headed up SAGE earlier than standing down from £185,000-a-year function, stated: ‘The repeated assertion undermined the significance of ministerial judgement, and the accountability of ministers for selections.’

He stated he welcomed the mantra initially as a result of it confirmed that ministers had been ‘listening to us’ and ‘that is not at all times the case in Government’, including: ‘But I believe the best way by which this was heard and probably meant, by way of slavishly following the science, obeying it always, it is fully mistaken.’

Sir Patrick said: 'I had no intention whatsoever of these ever seeing the light of day or me looking at them again and sort of felt the world had probably had enough of books of reflections of people's thoughts during Covid'

Sir Patrick stated: ‘I had no intention in any respect of those ever seeing the sunshine of day or me them once more and form of felt the world had in all probability had sufficient of books of reflections of individuals’s ideas throughout Covid’

‘And I may completely agree that there isn’t any such factor as ‘the science’. 

‘Science by its definition is a shifting physique of information that tries to overturn issues by testing the entire time.’

He stated ministers used the mantra when confronted with selections that ‘have to be taken by ministers’ by combining completely different types of proof to ‘make these nearly unimaginable judgement calls which the science cannot make and should not make’. 

Sir Patrick stated ministers knew the phrase ‘was damaging’ and it was softened at some factors to ‘we’re being knowledgeable by’.

Earlier within the day, Sir Patrick claimed he had ‘no intention’ for his notes taken on the time ‘ever seeing the sunshine of day’.

He stated the diary he stored throughout the pandemic — described as ‘a mind dump’ — was written ‘on the finish of immensely disturbing days to guard his psychological well being’.

Explosive extracts have been shared as a part of the inquiry, together with revelations that ex-PM Boris Johnson as soon as described coronavirus as ‘nature’s approach of coping with previous folks’.

Asked about his memoirs, shared solely with the Inquiry, Sir Patrick stated: ‘I had no intention in any respect of those ever seeing the sunshine of day or me them once more and form of felt the world had in all probability had sufficient of books of reflections of individuals’s ideas throughout Covid.’

Sir Patrick kept a diary during the pandemic, which has been described as 'a brain dump' written 'at the end of immensely stressful days to protect his mental health'

Sir Patrick stored a diary throughout the pandemic, which has been described as ‘a mind dump’ written ‘on the finish of immensely disturbing days to guard his psychological well being’

Giving proof at Dorland House in London on Monday, Sir Patrick admitted the diary was a approach of defending his personal psychological well being from the day by day stresses of his job.

He stated: ‘At the tip of every day, typically fairly late within the night, I might simply spend a couple of minutes jotting down some ideas from that day, and issues and reflections, and did it as a strategy to get that, in a way, out of the best way in order that I may focus on the next day.

‘These had been personal ideas. They had been prompt reflections from a day. And as soon as they had been written, I really by no means checked out them once more.

‘They had been put in a drawer and that was that. I definitely had no intention of doing anything with them both.’

Sir Patrick stated: ‘From my perspective, these had been a approach of simply decompressing on the finish of the day they usually had been some ideas I’d had that day and wrote down that day so as to be clearer the next day that I used to be going to focus on the next day. They had no objective aside from that.

‘And no person, together with members of my household or anybody, had seen them.’

He added: ‘Some of it I look again and suppose ‘that appears like a smart collection of reflections over that interval’.

‘Others, I look again and I can see I might need written one thing sooner or later after which two days later written one thing that stated ‘really I do not agree with myself on that’, which could have been how any individual had behaved or any individual made an statement.’

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock is amongst those that have supplied their account of the pandemic. His ebook, Pandemic Diaries: The inside story of Britain’s battle towards Covid, was revealed final December.

Spike: The Virus v the People, written by Sir Jeremy Farrar, an influential member of SAGE, and journalist Anjana Ahuja, supplied his ‘inside story’ on how the disaster unfolded and criticised the UK’s dealing with of the pandemic.

Sir Patrick additionally revealed that he had clashes with England’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sir Chris Whitty, who he described as a ‘delayer’. 

He was requested about Sir Jeremy’s ebook, which described a ‘friction’ between when to impose restrictions in 2020. 

Sir Patrick stated Sir Chris’ function as a public well being specialist meant he was ‘rightly involved’ concerning the opposed results of Covid restrictions, similar to harming psychological well being. The CMO argued that these components needs to be thought of and ‘pulling the set off to do issues too early may result in opposed penalties’, Sir Patrick stated.

While Sir Patrick stated this was a ‘completely applicable fear’, he disagreed.

He stated: ‘I did not have precisely the identical fear. I used to be extra on the aspect of we have to transfer on this, however I believe that is partly why the 2 of us discovered it helpful to work collectively.

‘I imply, he would herald views that had been broad public well being views wanting on the penalties of interventions, in addition to the direct consequence of the virus.

‘And I believe generally I might wish to push and he won’t, and generally he was proper and generally I believe we should always have gone earlier. This was an event once I suppose it is clear that we should always have gone earlier.’

Sir Patrick also revealed that he had clashes with England's Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sir Chris Whitty (left), who he described as a 'delayer'

Sir Patrick additionally revealed that he had clashes with England’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sir Chris Whitty (left), who he described as a ‘delayer’

Extracts from Sir Patrick’s diary have been used throughout the inquiry to take a look at the work of key figures, together with Cabinet ministers, ex-Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain and former cupboard secretary Mark Sedwill.

One entry recorded that the previous PM had referred to the Treasury because the ‘pro-death squad’ when he needed the division to again him in arguing for a path to eased restrictions.

Sir Patrick, who served because the Government’s chief scientific adviser from 2018 to 2023, additionally wrote about his frustrations in coping with the then-prime minister.

‘(Mr Johnson is) obsessive about older folks accepting their destiny and letting the younger get on with life and the economic system going,’ he stated.

‘Quite bonkers set of exchanges,’ he wrote, referring to a WhatsApp group together with Mr Johnson.

Sir Patrick additionally stated that he and Sir Chris felt Number 10 officers had been attempting to ‘strong-arm’ them into showing by Mr Johnson’s aspect at a Downing Street press convention following the then-prime minister’s ex-chief adviser Dominic Cummings’ press convention on his lockdown journey to Barnard Castle.

Former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance arrives at Dorland House in London this morning to give a statement to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry

Former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance arrives at Dorland House in London this morning to offer an announcement to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry

The journey was clearly towards the principles and Mr Cummings’ televised look earlier than the media was a ‘automotive crash’, the previous chief scientist stated in an entry in May 2020.

Sir Patrick has objected to the publication of his pandemic-era diary in full.

Inquiry chairwoman Baroness Heather Hallett has but to decide on whether or not the entries needs to be disclosed of their entirety.

Sir Patrick has at all times maintained it was not his job to inform Mr Johnson and the Cabinet what they needed to listen to, however to clarify the scientific proof.

In October 2021, he informed the BBC: ‘My job is to not sugarcoat it. My job is to not inform them issues they wish to hear… it is to ensure that they perceive what the science at that second is saying, what the uncertainties are, and to attempt to make that as clear as potential.’

England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty will give proof to the inquiry on Tuesday and his former deputy, Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, on Wednesday. 

They will likely be adopted by the Government’s present chief scientific adviser, Dame Angela McLean on Wednesday, whereas Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Dame Jenny Harries, who’s head of the UK Health Security Agency, will give proof on Thursday.

Sir Patrick Vallance diary extracts

JUNE 10, 2020

‘I’m nervous {that a} ‘Sage is bother’ vibe is showing in Number 10. It could even be the Government chosen from time to time from Sage what it needed.

‘There is a paper from Number 10 cupboard workplace for the one metre two/metre overview. Some individual has fully rewritten the science recommendation as if it is the definitive model.

‘They’ve simply cherry picked. Quite extraordinary.’

JUNE 2020

‘No 10. Chaos as typical. On Friday the two-metre rule assembly made it abundantly clear that nobody in No 10 or the Cabinet Office actually learn or is taking time to grasp the science recommendation on two metres. Quite extraordinary.’ 

NOVEMBER 11, 2020

‘He [Simon Case] says Number 10 is at conflict with itself. Carrie faction with Gove and one other with spads downstairs. The PM is caught within the center. He, the cupboard secretary, has spoken to all his predecessors … and nobody has seen something prefer it.’ 


‘This flip-flopping is unimaginable. One minute do extra, subsequent do nothing.

‘He does not appear to push precise resolutions. Morning PM assembly, he desires the whole lot regular by September, and then you definately take care of issues regionally and regionally.

‘He’s now fully bullish on opening the whole lot. As one other individual stated, it is so inconsistent. It’s like bipolar decision-making.’ 

JULY 2020

‘The ridiculous flip-flopping is getting worse.’

‘The CMO (Sir Chris Whitty) and I are each nervous concerning the excessive inconsistency from the Prime Minister, lurching from open the whole lot to panic.’

SEPTEMBER 19, 2020

‘He’s [Boris Johnson] far and wide [about circuit-breaker lockdown] and fully inconsistent. 

‘You can see why it was so tough to conform to lockdown the primary time.’