Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has quit his role as the deputy chief medical officer for England to return to an academic post at the University of Nottingham.
Van-Tam – who has come to be known as JVT – gained cult appeal during the pandemic through his use of colourful and occasionally bewildering analogies to explain coronavirus in the Downing Street news briefings. So much so, his memorable metaphors have been dubbed “Van-Tamisms.”
His family history is just as colourful. Van-Tam’s paternal grandfather, Nguyen Van Tam, was prime minister of South Vietnam when it was a French protectorate back in the 1950s. His uncle, Nguyen Van Hinh, was chief of staff of the Vietnamese national army and the first Vietnamese officer in the French armed forces to be promoted to the rank of general. He told The Times that he credits his father’s southeast Asian roots for giving him “reverence for education and learning, respect for elders, gentleness of mind and spirit.”