The announcement of the departure of England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, or JVT as he’s known, heralds the loss of one of the truly standout communicators of the pandemic.
JVT was to Covid-19 what Sir David Attenborough is to the natural world, or Professor Brian Cox is to physics. One of the key aspects of pandemic management is explaining to the public at large what the science means to them at home in a trustworthy manner that people can grasp.
With an academic background in respiratory viruses, the Boston United fan had been a massive asset to the Department of Health and Social Care since 2007, when he was appointed on secondment from the University of Nottingham. Although he already had experience of dealing with high-profile health emergencies, such as the Salisbury novichok incident, he really came into his own once Covid arrived, with his pithy use of metaphors to get his message across.
One of my favourite JVT quotes was when he was asked to explain the reasons for the supply chain for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine requiring a -70C (-94F) freezer. Of an important detail that, let’s face it, would send most of us to sleep, he said: ‘This is a complex product. It’s not a yoghurt that can be taken out of the fridge and put back in multiple times.’
read the full piece over at Mail+