Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam shared during the pandemic inquiry that he and his family received a police recommendation to vacate their residence due to a threat of having their throats slit.
During the pandemic, Van-Tam served as one of England’s deputy chief medical officers. He expressed concern over the level of hate received from those who opposed lockdown measures, fearing it may discourage others from pursuing similar roles, such as his.
“I never anticipated my family being subjected to such threats,” he stated. “I certainly did not expect the authorities to ask us to vacate our home for a few days at night.”
“I have concerns that in the event of another crisis, individuals may be reluctant to volunteer for these positions.”
Ultimately, Van-Tam explained that he and his loved ones decided against relocating as recommended due to the lack of someone who could care for their feline companion.
According to Van-Tam, a small minority of individuals were responsible for the abuse and threats he received. He expressed gratitude towards the overwhelming majority of the public who continued to support his role.
Van-Tam, an expert on respiratory viruses, played a significant role in addressing the pandemic. However, during the inquiry, he stated that his involvement with Boris Johnson’s Downing Street was minimal. He recalled only attending the nightly press conferences.
After the Covid response was in motion, Van-Tam stated that he devoted a significant amount of time to organizing a taskforce for the development of a vaccine. He described this as the primary focus of his work for the remainder of his tenure in government.
The investigation received testimony that Van-Tam, who is currently a consultant for Moderna, one of the creators of a major Covid vaccine, and has since left government, was one of the initial advisors to express concerns about Covid. In early January 2020, he sent an email to Sir Chris Whitty and other officials, bringing attention to the situation in China.
Van-Tam used a familiar football metaphor in his email, cautioning that the alert originated from ProMed, a website focused on infectious diseases, which he compared to a football transfer website that tends to be more sensational in January.
When asked if he was more eager to inform the government about the danger compared to Whitty, Van-Tam confirmed this was true. However, he also expressed his complete support for Whitty’s actions as the chief medical officer of England, stating that “he knew when to take action when I did not.”
Van-Tam stated: “I am the one pursuing the ball, while Chris is the one observing the ball and making a more informed judgement on whether it is worth pursuing.”