Sir Patrick Vallance: From Covid adviser to science minister

Sir Patrick Vallance, who was chief scientific adviser to the government during the Covid-19 pandemic, has been appointed a Minister of State for science in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Sir Patrick, who will also be made a peer, has previously backed Labour’s flagship manifesto pledge to set up a publicly owned energy firm.

The man whose face became synonymous with Covid briefings during the lockdown held the role of the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser throughout the pandemic.

He was knighted in 2022 for his service during the pandemic, with Sir Patrick being one of the key scientists updating the public in televised Downing Street briefings, sometimes alongside then-prime minister Boris Johnson.

He served as chief scientific adviser from April 2018 to April 2023 and prior to that worked at pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline.

Sir Patrick Vallance
Then chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty, then chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and then prime minister Boris Johnson (Victoria Jones/PA)

Upon stepping down from his role in government, Sir Patrick took on the role of chairman at the Natural History Museum.

Earlier this year, Sir Patrick suggested in The Times that Labour’s plans for Great British Energy, a publicly owned company which also aims to drive Net Zero policies, could be “done fast”.

The former adviser also took aim at Rishi Sunak for slowing down the implementation of Net Zero policies.

He wrote: “If we choose to go slowly others will provide the answers and we will ultimately end up buying the solutions.”

He added: “I am often asked which of Britain’s many pressing public policy challenges need a vaccine-style approach.

“I believe that one such priority is the urgent need to end the era of excessive carbon emissions, high energy bills and energy insecurity by accelerating the net zero transition to clean, homegrown energy.

“With a determined effort using currently available technologies and those that are close to being deployable, a clean power system by 2030 is achievable.”