The government’s chief scientific adviser during the pandemic told the Covid inquiry on Monday the former prime minister had “a problem in scientific understanding”.
“The prime minister at the time gave up science when he was 15,” Vallance said. “I think he would be the first to admit it wasn’t his forte.”
Vallance made private notes every evening during the pandemic and this diary has been handed to the inquiry.
In one extract, Vallance said Johnson “looked broken - head in hands a lot” and quoted the then prime minister saying “We are too shit to get our act together”.
Patrick Vallance’s Covid diary extracts
In his evidence on Monday, Vallance said Johnson and his chief adviser Dominic Cummings had been “extremely keen to get scientific advice”.
But added: “As you can see, it wasn’t always easy to provide it in a way that was understandable and actionable.”
“It was hard work to make sure he had understood what a particular graph or piece of data was saying,” he said.
“I can’t be sure he kept it in his mind all the time,” he said. ’It was difficult at times.”
Vallance became one of the public faces of the pandemic thanks to frequent appearances at the daily press conferences.
This week the inquiry will also hear from Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, the former deputy chief medical officer and Angela McLean, the current chief scientific adviser.