Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam is leaving his post as Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) for England to return to the University of Nottingham to take on a new role.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked him for his “extraordinary contribution” during the COVID-19 crisis.
Professor Van-Tam has become a well-known face on TV for his liberal sprinkling of analogies to convey urgent public health messages in an easy-to-understand way – a technique that has made him a “national treasure”, according to the British Health Secretary, Sajid Javid.
A “difficult” job
Professor Van-Tam, who was knighted in the New Year Honors List, had been on secondment to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) at the University of Nottingham since 2017.
He will return as pro-vice chancellor of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences when he leaves his current position at the end of March.
Sir Jonathan described his time as DCMO as “the most difficult of my professional career”.
He said: “We all wish COVID had never happened. Nevertheless, it has been the greatest privilege of my professional career to have served the British people during this time.”
During the pandemic he worked on the vaccine task force and supported the development of treatments, and he frequently appeared alongside the Prime Minister at Downing Street briefings, where he was referred to as ‘JVT’.
He paid tribute to England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, and the rest of his team, as well as “fellow scientists, public health professionals and clinicians whose support, wisdom and energy were an inspiration”.
Lyrics of JVT
During his tenure as DCMO, Professor Van-Tam was renowned for his metaphors and similes ranging from football, running and even public transport.
In January last year, he compared the race to beat COVID to the final stages of a horse race where the jockey must not fall at the last hurdle. “We’re probably in the later stages of this race – like in the Grand National. We just have a few more barriers, we just have to stick to it,” he said. The sun.
The Boston United fan compared the public’s resilience to measures to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to a football game: “It’s a bit like being 3-0 in a game, and thinking, well , we can’t lose this now . But how many times have you seen the other side win 4-3?”
In December 2020, he compared the state of the pandemic to scoring an equalizer “It’s clear in the first half the away team gave us an absolute punch”, and that “in the 70’sand minute, we now have an equalizer”, but we must “keep our nerves”.
Railroads came to JVT’s mind after RNAM’s approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. “The train has now safely slowed down, stopped at the station and the doors have opened. What we need now is for people to get on this train.”
And the difficulties of handling the cold chain of mRNA vaccines gave an obvious opening to talk about dairy products: “It’s a complex product with a very fragile cold chain… It’s not a yogurt that comes out of the fridge.
“JVT’s unique approach to science communication over the past two years has undoubtedly played a vital role in protecting and reassuring the nation,” said Sajid Javid.
Vaccinology and Pandemic Preparedness
Professor Van Tam is an expert in influenza, including its epidemiology, transmission, vaccinology and pandemic preparedness.
Before joining DHSC, he was Professor of Health Protection at Nottingham Medical School.
Professor Shearer West, vice-chancellor of the university, said: “All of us at the university are incredibly proud of Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam’s work as Deputy Chief Medical Officer, in which he played a role. major in leading the nation through the covid19 pandemic.
“I am delighted that Jonathan is returning to Nottingham to join our leadership team and lead our renowned Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences as our next Pro-Vice-Chancellor. His academic and leadership expertise is second to none, and the The integrity he has demonstrated in his role in government is fully aligned with our values.”