Sir Patrick Vallance will step down as No10's chief scientific adviser
Dr Doom’s reign comes to an end: Sir Patrick Vallance will step down as No10’s chief scientific adviser in the spring after becoming household name during Covid
- Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance will step down in April
- Famed appearing in Covid briefings his new job is at the Natural History Museum
- Sir Patrick slammed No 10’s lockdown parties, but insiders say exit is unrelated
Sir Patrick Vallance will stand down as the Government’s chief scientific adviser, it was announced today.
He became a household name during Covid, appearing next to Boris Johnson and his esteemed colleague Sir Chris Whitty during tense Downing Street briefings to talk the nation through the crisis.
But the 62-year-old was also nicknamed ‘Dr Doom’ during the pandemic for being the face of SAGE’s bleak projections.
Sir Patrick will resign from his job, which pays up to £185,000-a-year, in April.
He will then take up the role of chairman of the Natural History Museum’s Board of Trustees.
Sir Patrick Vallance became a household name during Covid, appearing next to Boris Johnson and his esteemed colleague Sir Chris Whitty during tense Downing Street briefings to talk the nation through the crisis
But the 62-year-old was also nicknamed ‘Dr Doom’ during the pandemic for being the face of SAGE’s bleak projections. Pictured alongside the PM and Sir Chris at a Government press briefing on February 21
Sir Patrick, who as a child dreamed of being a scientist who studied prehistoric life, will soon take on the role of chairman of the Natural History Museum’s (pictured) Board of Trustees
Born in Essex in the 1960s, Sir Patrick Vallance dreamed as a child of being a ‘dinosaur hunter’.
But ambitions of becoming a highly-renowned palaeontologist were soon abandoned in favour of a career in medicine.
He was educated at Truro school in Cornwall, which costs nearly £30,000 to board now.
Before becoming a household name for steering the nation through Covid, he spent time teaching at St George’s, University of London, where the now 62-year-old graduated in the 1980s.
He later became a specialist in the area of both diseases of blood vessels and endothelial biology.
Sir Patrick, who describes his ‘guiltiest pleasure’ as driving fast cars, also spent a decade teaching at University College London.
He joined British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in 2006 and worked there until 2017.
After six years at GSK his base salary as Executive Director was said to be £780,000 a year.
When he left to become No10’s chief scientific advisor in 2018, he cashed in £5million worth of shares he got from them from his time working there until March 2018.
During the pandemic, it transpired that Sir Patrick Vallance still had £600,000 of shares. It sparked controversy because GSK was one of many firms racing to develop a Covid vaccine.
Married to former GP Sophie Dexter, the couple live in a semi-detached Victorian house worth £1.8m, which they bought in 2018 with cash.
The street they live on is lined with expensive cars, with an R-class Mercedes once spotted parked on their own drive.
They had to complete extensive renovations after it had been left completely gutted by a fire before they were involved in the property.
The pair have three children together — who all think their father, knighted originally in 2019, is ‘geeky’.
Boris Johnson said: ‘Sir Patrick may not have bargained for becoming a household name when he signed up for the job.
‘But I am immensely grateful for his advice and expertise throughout the pandemic and beyond.’
The outgoing PM added: ‘It is impossible to fully convey the impact that Sir Patrick has had as chief scientific adviser.
‘He has played an instrumental role in expanding and accelerating the science super prowess of this country.
‘Overseeing the development and innovative use of new technologies, responding to the global threat of climate change, boosting the life sciences and health of our nation, and ensuring our policies and decisions are informed by the latest and best scientific thinking.
‘It’s our scientists and clinicians, led by Sir Patrick, Sir Chris, and their team, that oversaw the largest vaccine rollout in British history together with my government.
‘He will be missed by all when he leaves next year, and I wish him the very best in all future endeavours.’
Sir Patrick, who aspired to be a dinosaur hunter growing up, said he remains ‘fully committed to my role until my successor takes up the role’.
As well as playing a leading part in the Covid crisis, he was also heavily involved in the COP26 climate negotiations.
He also leads the Net Zero Innovation Board, which provides strategic oversight of Government funding of net zero innovation programmes.
Sir Patrick was first appointed to the role in 2018, replacing his friend Sir Chris who was temporarily given the position.
He was among the key scientists who spoke to the public about Covid during the now famous televised briefings from Government on the pandemic, often standing alongside the PM and ministers.
Although, his response to the virus has not been without controversy.
In March 2020 he was forced to defend the Government’s ‘herd immunity’ approach to not shutting down schools in the initial wave of restrictions.
He was also criticised for presenting a now infamous chart in one of the televised briefings in October that year suggesting there could be a shocking 4,000 deaths per day by December 20 if pandemic restrictions were not imposed.
But the figures came from an outdated model based on a projection that there would be 1,000 deaths per day by the start of November.
In reality, the daily average was lower than 200, meaning the prediction was five times too high.
Sir Patrick has also defended SAGE modelling which forecasted thousands of daily deaths during the Omicron wave.
Some anti-lockdown Tory MPs labelled these projections as ‘scare mongering’.
But Sir Patrick said it was his not his job to spread optimism but to give ministers the data that they needed to make decisions.
Sir Patrick was named in the Government’s New Year Honours List 2022 for helping lead the response to Covid. Here is pictured with his wife Sophie Dexter after receiving his award in June
The scientist has, however, also been praised for saying Covid management must become similar to flu.
Sir Patrick was originally knighted back in 2019 but was given a higher rank earlier this summer.
Speaking outside the royal residence after picking up the Order of the Bath medal in June, he said Sir Patrick slammed the lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street as ‘very disappointing’.
He said it was ‘really important at all stages that everyone stuck to the rules’.
But he said Partygate showed this ‘was not the case’.
Government insiders have insisted Sir Patrick’s departure is not related to his criticism of the No10 parties but instead the end of his five year contract he started in 2018.
Fellow Covid guru Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, affectionately named JVT, announced he was stepping down as deputy CMO in January, just hours after Mr Johnson apologised to the nation for boozing with others in No10’s garden.
Government sources also insisted that his exit wasn’t related to ‘partygate’, claiming that his time was ‘up’ because he had been ‘on loan’ to Whitehall since 2017.
Others saw the influenza expert’s departure as a sign that the worst of Covid was over.
Sir Patrick’s and Sir Jonathan’s exit from Government leaves fellow Covid household name CMO Sir Chris, who was also knighted for his service to the nation, the last virus guru standing.
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