He’s looking at you, Matt: Sir Patrick Vallance says he had no intention of bombshell pandemic notes ‘seeing the light of day’ because the world ‘had enough of books of reflections of people’s thoughts during Covid’
The government’s top pandemic scientist ‘had no intention’ of his notes on the crisis ‘ever seeing the light of day’, the Covid inquiry has heard.
Sir Patrick Vallance kept a diary during the pandemic, which has been described as ‘a brain dump’, written ‘at the end of hugely stressful days to protect his mental health’.
Explosive excerpts have been shared as part of the investigation, including revelations that ex-prime minister Boris Johnson once described coronavirus as ‘nature’s way of dealing with old people’.
The former chief scientific adviser to No10, who is giving evidence to the inquiry today, was asked whether he planned to use his notes to write a memoir about the pandemic.
He said: ‘I had no intention at all of these ever seeing the light of day or me looking at them again and felt like the world had probably had enough of books reflecting on people’s thoughts during Covid.’
Sir Patrick said: ‘I had no intention at all of these ever seeing the light of day or me looking at them again and felt the world had probably had enough of books reflecting on people’s thoughts during Covid’
Sir Patrick kept a diary during the pandemic, which has been described as ‘a brain dump’, written ‘at the end of hugely stressful days to protect his mental health’
Testifying at London’s Dorland House on Monday, Sir Patrick admitted the diary was a way of protecting his own mental health from the daily stress of his job.
He said: ‘At the end of each day, often quite late in the evening, I would spend a few minutes writing down some of the day’s thoughts, and things and reflections, and did it as a way of achieving that, on one sentence, out of the way so I could focus on the next day.
“These were private thoughts. They were instant reflections of a day. And once they were written, I never really looked at them again.
‘They were put in a drawer and that was that. I certainly had no intention of doing anything else with them.’
Sir Patrick said: ‘From my perspective these were a way to decompress at the end of the day and they were some thoughts I had that day and wrote them down that day to be clearer the next day that I was going to focus on the next day. They had no other purpose than that.
“And no one, including members of my family or anyone else, had seen them.”
He added: ‘Some of it I look back and think ‘that seems like a sensible set of reflections on that period’.
“Others, when I look back, I see that I might have written something one day and then two days later I wrote something that said, ‘Actually, I don’t agree with that,’ which could be how someone had behaved or how someone had behaved. an observation.’
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock is among those who have given their views on the pandemic. His book Pandemic Diaries: The inside story of Britain’s battle against Covid was published last December.
Spike: The Virus v the People, written by Sir Jeremy Farrar, an influential member of SAGE, and journalist Anjana Ahuja, presented his ‘inside story’ of how the crisis unfolded and criticized the UK’s handling of the pandemic.
The inquiry used extracts from Sir Patrick’s diary to look at the work of key figures including Cabinet ministers, former Downing Street communications director Lee Cain and former Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill.
One report said the former prime minister had called the Treasury the “pro-death squad” when he wanted the ministry to back him in his plea for a path to eased restrictions.
Sir Patrick, who was the government’s chief scientific adviser from 2018 to 2023, also wrote about his frustrations dealing with the then prime minister.
“(Mr Johnson is) obsessed with older people accepting their fate and letting the young get on with life and the economy going,” he said.
“A pretty crazy series of exchanges,” he wrote, referring to a WhatsApp group including Mr Johnson.
Sir Patrick also said he and Sir Chris felt Number 10 officials were trying to ‘strong-arm’ them into appearing at Mr Johnson’s side at a Downing Street press conference following the then Prime Minister’s press conference. ex-chief counsel Dominic Cummings, on the matter. his lockdown trip to Barnard Castle.
Former Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance arrives at Dorland House in London this morning to make a statement to the UK Covid-19 inquiry
The trip was clearly against the rules and Cummings’ television appearance in front of the media was a “car accident,” the former chief scientist said in a May 2020 article.
Sir Patrick has objected to the full publication of his pandemic-era diary.
Inquiry chair Baroness Heather Hallett has yet to make a decision on whether the submissions should be made public in their entirety.
Sir Patrick has always insisted that his job was not to tell Mr Johnson and the Cabinet what they wanted to hear, but to make the scientific evidence clear.
In October 2021, he told the BBC: ‘It’s not my job to cover it up. It’s not my job to tell them things they want to hear. My job is to make sure they understand what the science is saying at the time, what the uncertainties are, and to try to make that as clear as possible.”
England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty will give evidence at the inquiry on Tuesday and his former deputy, Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, on Wednesday.
They will be followed on Wednesday by the government’s current chief scientific adviser, Dame Angela McLean, while Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Dame Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency, will testify on Thursday.