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Wales’ top science advisor accused of not engaging early enough in pandemic

29 Feb 2024 2 minute read
Dr Robert Hoyle. Photo UK Covid-19 inquiry

Wales’ top science advisor did not “engage” early enough in the Covid pandemic, an inquiry has heard.

Dr Robert Hoyle, the head of science at the Welsh government, has criticised his boss for his response to Covid, saying he should have done more earlier.

Addressing the Covid-19 UK Inquiry on Thursday, Dr Hoyle said the chief scientific adviser (CSA) for Wales, Professor Peter Halligan, treated the coronavirus as a “case of that’s someone else’s problem” when he raised it with him.

He added: “I went out of my way to encourage him to engage in this and to do things.

“He eventually took that advice but not until very late in the day, I think he could and should have done more.”


Dr Hoyle also told the inquiry that lockdown had become “inevitable” and should have been implemented earlier, possibly up to two weeks earlier, but five to seven days would have been “appropriate”.

However, Dr Hoyle also argued that if lockdown had been implemented too early, the public may not have agreed to it.

“I think there’s a subtle timing issue here,” he said.


“We value our freedoms as a democratic country, and the ability to move around and all the rest of it.

“It needed to get to a certain stage before widespread lockdown would be acceptable to the national population.

“I think we could have gone probably five to seven days earlier than we did but (Covid) needed to become prominent enough in the population’s mind for lockdown to become acceptable.”

He also told the inquiry it would have been “untenable” for the Welsh government to have gone into lockdown before the rest of the UK.

“I think it was a national lockdown or nothing,” he added.

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