Jonathan Van-Tam to step down as Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam has announced he will leave his position as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England.

Professor Van Tam said it had been the “greatest privilege” to have served the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.

He will remain in the role till the end of March 2022 before taking up his previous academic position at the University of Nottingham.

Professor Van Tam was appointed as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DMCO) for England on the 2nd of October 2017 but gained nationwide visibility during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

He became well-known for his unique analogies during Downing Street’s public coronavirus briefings, where he would explain complex science using football metaphors and other simplifications.

The professor went on to say that his time in the position had been “the most challenging of my professional career, especially the Covid response,” adding: “We all wish Covid had never happened.”

In his official announcement, posted to the United Kingdom’s government website, he thanked all those he had worked with during the pandemic, including the “countless numbers who work behind the scenes.”

Before his role as DCMO for the UK, Professor Van Tam acted as a consultant to the World Health Organization on influenza since 2004 and was a member of the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) during the 2009 to 2010 H1N1 influenza pandemic crisis.

England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty praised Prof Van-Tam’s work saying, “he has been an outstanding DCMO and public servant. I am profoundly thankful for his steadfast support, advice, leadership and commitment. His communication of public health advice and science has been remarkable.”

Prof Van-Tam had been on secondment to the Department of Health from the University of Nottingham since 2017.

After March, he will be returning to his role at the university as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The United Kingdom’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid paid tribute to Prof Van-Tam for his “one-of-a-kind approach to communicating science over the past two years” that “has no doubt played a vital role in protecting and reassuring the nation”.

In his address to the House of Commons, he told Members of Parliament that Prof Van-Tam had become a “national hero” and paid tribute to “his relentless work ethic, sense of public duty and leading role in our incredible vaccination program.”

Using the football metaphors beloved by Professor Van Tam, Sajid Javid said he was “grateful we’ve had him on loan for so many years” and that the professor had been a “top signing” who had “blown the whistle on time”.

Mr Javid made the comments before going on to make a statement about the Covid-19 pandemic in which he announced that self-isolation in England is being cut to five full days, as long as people have had two negative lateral flow tests.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked him for his “extraordinary contribution to our country” and for his “invaluable advice throughout the pandemic”.


Ashton Perry

Ashton Perry is a former Birmingham BSc graduate professional with six years critical writing experience. With specilisations in journalism focussed writing on climate change, politics, buisness and other news. A passionate supporter of environmentalism and media freedom, Ashton works to provide everyone with unbiased news.