Professor Devi Sridhar takes the chair at the UK Covid Inquiry on Tuesday, the latest in a series of expert witnesses discussing Scotland’s response to the pandemic. 

Who is she and what was her role?  

Divi Sridhar is Professor of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, and became a prominent voice on TV screens, radio and social media during the pandemic.  

She was made a member of the Scottish Government's "time limited expert group," set up in 25 March 2020, to help develop and improve its plan for handling the response to the virus in Scotland

READ MORE: When is Humza Yousaf giving evidence at UK Covid Inquiry?

She was also a member of the DELVE (Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics) group. This group was set up by the Royal Society to advise UK's SAGE team, this group’s recommended actions which eventually became the basis for public policy around the virus: 1) Test, trace, and isolate 2) Give public health guidance on avoiding the virus and 3) Control borders to prevent reimportation. 

As well as her Professorship at Edinburgh, Sridhar is an Associate Fellow with the Chatham House Centre on Global Health, was an associate professor in global health politics at Wolfson College, Oxford, and serves on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Health Industry. 

The Herald: Professor Devi Sridhar Professor Devi Sridhar (Image: Newsquest)

What is her background? 

Prof Sridhar is American, and was raised in Miami, Florida. After graduating from the University of Miami, she became youngest person in the U.S. to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford. Prof Sidhar was also a  postdoctoral fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. 

What did she say during the pandemic?  

Prof Sridhar was one of the first to sound the alarm over the virus, warning in January 2020 that she had “been asked by journalists how serious #WuhanPneumonia outbreak is,” referring to the outbreak of a respiratory in the city of Wuhan, China, which would later be identified as Covid-19 and spread around the world.  

She urged governments to “take it seriously”, and that previous outbreaks taught “over-responding is better than delaying action.” 

READ MORE: Sridhar - Yes, there are lockdown lessons from Sweden

The academic was a proponent of early intervention and the drive to “Zero Covid” which marked the Scottish Government’s policy towards the pandemic in the early days.  

She backed lockdowns and social distancing measures and talked up the Scottish Government’s approach in the face of criticism.  

The Herald: Prof Sridhar was a proponent of facemasks and lockdownsProf Sridhar was a proponent of facemasks and lockdowns (Image: Newsquest)


Prof Sridhar was criticised in some quarters for being too close to the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon. She has claimed that many of her comments “were deliberately misquoted or misrepresented by right-wing outlets such as the Mail and The Spectator” as part of “larger attempt to discredit the majority Scottish government and an increasingly popular Sturgeon”.  

She also drew fire for a column she wrote in August 2020, titled "We Will Pay for Our Summer Vacations With Winter Lockdowns," which said Scotland would "face a stream of incoming infections from England and Wales" due to tourism. 

She has also said that the UK Government’s biggest failing during the pandemic was “Leadership”, singling out Boris Johnson. 

She said: “I think looking back we had a leader (Boris Johnson) who did not take the threat seriously, did not act fast enough, did not want to be decisive.”