Jonathan Van-Tam's Most Heroic TV Moment Has Resurfaced Following His Resignation

Van-Tam was praised for showing "the backbone that we have desperately needed to see" after his iconic response to a political question.
Jonathan Van-Tam became a regular during the Covid press briefings
Jonathan Van-Tam became a regular during the Covid press briefings
STEFAN ROUSSEAU via Getty Images

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam’s resignation has just been announced, prompting people to circle back to the clip which made him everyone’s favourite at the Downing Street press briefings almost two years ago.

Van-Tam, also known as JVT, will be remaining in his role as deputy chief medical officer for England until March’s end.

He will be heading back to the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Nottingham, where he has been on secondment since 2017.

As JVT will not be using his famous football or train station analogies during government Covid briefings for much longer, many have gone back to a particular highlight from his time with Downing Street.

The clip in question originates from May 2020, when the prime minister’s then-aide Dominic Cummings was found to have travelled more than 200 miles during the first lockdown.

While the government backed Cummings up amid calls for him to step down, JVT veered away from Downing Street’s line.

Asked when he thought of the potential rule breach, he told the media: “In my opinion, the rules are clear and they have always been clear.

″In my opinion, they are for the benefit of all and in my opinion, they apple to all.”

At the time, this was an astounding side-step away from the government’s united approach to Cummings’ behaviour.

In his resignation statement, JVT said it was a privilege to serve the UK, while admitting the pandemic was the “most challenging” period of his career.

“I want to pay tribute to Professor Chris Whitty, the CMO team, my fellow scientists, public health professionals, clinicians whose support, wisdom and energy has been inspiring.”

It is worth noting that JVT did not mention the prime minister or any members of the cabinet in his resignation statement.

The health secretary, Sajid Javid, tweeted: “JVT’s one-of-a-kind approach to communicating science over the past two years has no doubt played a vital role in protecting and reassuring the nation.”

Johnson added: “I would like to thank Jonathan Van-Tam for his extraordinary contribution to our country and his invaluable advice throughout the pandemic. Wishing him the very best for the future.”

JVT’s resignation as a highly-regarded government official comes at a difficult time for Downing Street, as Johnson is already losing the trust in the public over the No.10 drinks party held in May 2020 when everyone else was in lockdown.

There has been speculation that JVT was choosing to step down following Johnson’s lacklustre apology for attending the party, but there’s no suggestion his departure is linked.

Although it’s clear he will be going back to the University of Nottingham, Twitter has enjoyed guessing what he might go on to do next – especially after his spectacular speech on viruses for the Royal Institute’s Christmas Lectures went viral.

Here are some of the top guesses:


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