Patrick Vallance, who served as the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser during lockdown, gave evidence at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry today.
He was asked about previous comments he had made about health data from Scotland, including from Edinburgh University’s Eave II studies, which claims to have tracked the pandemic in Scotland “in near real-time”.
The study uses a dataset of the 5.4 million people registered with a GP in Scotland – around 98% of the population – which tracked both the progress of the virus and the effectiveness of vaccines.
Asked about his past remarks, in which Vallance said the studies had been “very useful” and provided “rapid information”, the scientist described Scottish health data as “brilliant”.
He said: “The Eaves studies were run by Aziz Sheikh, from Scotland, and it was a very effective way of looking at electronic databases held in Scotland and health records to give early signals on things, so we got information from there.
“Everything from rates in Scotland, early indications of changes, through to every important data on the vaccine efficacy, which led to multiple publications in top-tier international journals and was a continued source of helpful information into [the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage)] and to other bodies.”
He added: “I think Scotland has done over the years a brilliant job of getting health records, both primary and secondary care health records, and linking them and that’s been a piece of work that was done a long time ago and it really came into its own to be able to provide very useful information.”
His evidence also shone a light on the chaotic nature of decision-making in Downing Street during the pandemic, as has been the case in other sessions of the inquiry.
The inquiry heard on Monday how former prime minister Boris Johnson was ‘bamboozled’ by Covid-19 graphs and data.
And excerpts from Vallance’s pandemic diary recorded then chancellor Rishi Sunak as being “okay” with people dying from the virus.
Another quote read: “PM meeting – begins to argue for letting it all rip. Saying yes there will be more casualties but so be it – ‘they have had a good innings’.”