Published by BBC NEWS - 7th July 2022
  • Published
Professor Sir Jonathan Van-TamImage source, PA Media

Prof Sir Jonathan Van-Tam said he was “standing on the shoulders of others” after being knighted for his public health work during the pandemic.

Prof Van-Tam, nicknamed JVT, became known for delivering Covid updates in light-hearted ways, sometimes employing football analogies.

He had joined the Department of Health and Social Care on secondment from the University of Nottingham in 2017.

He was knighted at Buckingham Palace by the Duke of Cambridge.

Prof Sir Jonathan Van-Tam is knighted

Image source, Dominic Lipinski

Prof Van-Tam, who has now returned to the university as pro-vice-chancellor for the faculty of medicine and health sciences, had been due to attend his investiture ceremony in May but was forced to miss it after catching Covid.

He also missed watching his beloved Boston United in the National League North play-offs.

Upon finally making it to the palace, he was keen to pay tribute to his public health colleagues.

“It’s always an honour and also very humbling to be recognised,” he said.

“But I have to say it again, when you get this kind of thing, when you work in the kind of teams we’ve worked in over the last two and a half years – you are standing on the shoulders of others.

“Looking back at the height of the pandemic, time has just compressed.

“And it’s kind of very difficult to separate the beginning from where we are now, because it’s just been such a whirlwind, but it was really a time of kind of crazy, but determined focus.”

Dr Dame Jenny Harries

Image source, PA Media

He was recognised alongside former colleague Dr Dame Jenny Harries, who like the professor is a former deputy chief medical officer for England and was made a Dame Commander for her role supporting the health of the nation and making broadcasts.

Dame Jenny, now chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “We’re both public health doctors and in many ways trying to work through the pandemic, understand the new pathogen and respond to it and enable the public and the services to join together and get through it, is actually really what we’re trained to do.”

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