Sir Andrew Pollard & Sir Patrick Vallance discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. He shares insights into his medical career and vital work during the pandemic as Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government.
Sir Patrick Vallance FRS FMedSci FRCP HonFREng was UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) from April 2018 to April 2023.Previous to that role he was President of Research and Development at Glaxo Smith Kline and before that Professor of Medicine at UCLA, California.
He took on a crucial role in the UK response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this podcast episode he discusses with Andrew Pollard how he was aware of the emerging news about the virus at the end of 2019 and the steps he took to prepare the government for the potential impact.
Before discussing the pandemic, they step back to look at his medical career, his very broad experience as a clinician, as an academic and then working as a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry. This experience led to a deep understanding of the whole process that underpins drug development and the complexities around regulation.
They discuss policy decisions and policy design in his role of Chief Scientific adviser - "It isn't just the linear process from scientific evidence, it involves economics. It involves social considerations, ethical, moral, political, legal, and all of those things need to be taken into account by ministers when they make decisions".
They move on to discuss the activities around the pandemic response with Sir Patrick's key role as chief scientific advisor - from initially hearing news of an outbreak in China to the early response, the plans for lockdown to support the NHS and the strategies involved in the development of vaccines and their rollout. Finally, they discuss how to deal with stress on a personal level and the benefit of having trusted close colleagues to rely on and the need for sharing information between a network of science advisors in other countries.