Jonathan Van-Tam

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Sir Jonathan Van-Tam
S960 Professor Van-Tam (cropped).jpg
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England
In office
2 October 2017 – 31 March 2022
Serving with Jenny Harries (June 2019 – March 2021)[1]
Aidan Fowler (since 2020)[2]
Preceded byJohn Watson
Personal details
Jonathan Stafford Nguyen Van-Tam

(1964-02-02) 2 February 1964 (age 58)[3]
Boston, England
RelativesNguyễn Văn Tâm (grandfather)
Nguyễn Văn Hinh (uncle)
EducationBoston Grammar School
Alma materUniversity of Nottingham (MBBS, BMedSci, DM)
ProfessionPublic health physician[4]
AwardsChristmas lectures (2021)

Sir Jonathan Stafford Nguyen-Van-Tam MBE FRCPath FRSB FMedSci (born 2 February 1964)[3] is a British healthcare professional specialising in influenza, including its epidemiology, transmission, vaccinology, antiviral drugs and pandemic preparedness.

After hospital work, he was involved variously as a university lecturer and within the pharmaceutical industry. Van-Tam became a Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England on 2 October 2017. He played a very significant part in the UK's response to the covid pandemic which started in 2020[6] as one of two deputies.[7] He was due to step down at the end of March 2022[6] to take up an academic role.

Early life[edit]

Van-Tam was born and grew up in Boston, Lincolnshire.[8] He is partially of Vietnamese descent.[9] He attended Boston Grammar School where his father, Paul Nguyen Van-Tam, was a teacher of Mathematics.[10] He graduated in medicine from the University of Nottingham in 1987.[4] He was awarded bachelor's degrees in Medical Sciences in 1985 and a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (BM BS) in 1987.[11][12] He was awarded a Doctorate of Medicine (DM) in 2001 supported by a thesis on epidemiology.[13]


After five years of hospital-based clinical medicine, Van-Tam pursued academic training in public health and epidemiology and developed an interest in influenza and respiratory viruses, mentored for many years by Professor Karl Nicholson. He became a senior lecturer at the University of Nottingham (and consultant regional epidemiologist, Public Health Laboratory Service) in 1997,[14] before joining the pharmaceutical industry as an associate director at SmithKline Beecham in 2000.

In April 2001 he moved to Roche as head of medical affairs, before joining Aventis Pasteur MSD in February 2002 as UK medical director.

Van-Tam returned to the public sector in 2004 at the Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, where he was head of the pandemic influenza office until October 2007. He then returned to Nottingham as professor of health protection. He has published over 100 scientific papers and written four textbooks. He chaired the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Expert Advisory Group on H5N1 human vaccines, sits on the UK national Scientific Pandemic Influenza Committee (SPI), and was a member of the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) during the 2009-10 pandemic. He is co-editor of the textbook Introduction to Pandemic Influenza[15] and was editor-in-chief of the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses from 2014 to 2017.[16]

His unit is an officially designated WHO Collaborating Centre for pandemic influenza and research and a UK Faculty of Public Health "National Treasure" research training location.

Since 2014, he has been chair of the UK government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG).

On 2 October 2017, he took up the role of deputy chief medical officer for England.[17] In this capacity, he gained nationwide visibility during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.[18][19] In May 2020, he was appointed to the expert advisory group for the UK Government's Vaccine Taskforce, chaired by Patrick Vallance.[20]

It was announced in January 2022 that Van-Tam would step down from the role of deputy chief medical officer for England at the end of March 2022.[6] His new academic post as Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Medicine & Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham was due to start on 1 May 2022.[21]

Awards and honours[edit]

Van-Tam was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1998 New Year Honours as an acting major in the Lincolnshire Army Cadet Force. It was awarded in recognition of his work in designing a medical kit to meet the special requirements of large groups of teenagers on camping expeditions. This sprang from his work with the Lincolnshire Army Cadets since 1988. His ideas were accepted by the Ministry of Defence.

His other qualifications include Fellowships of the Faculty of Public Health (FFPH), the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath) and the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine Hon (FFPM). He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health (FRSPH), of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB)[22][23] and the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci). He delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 2021.[24] In 2021, the Royal College of Physicians invited Van-Tam to hold the Harveian Oration, the most prestigious lecture of the learned society.[25]

On 1 December 2021 he was announced as one of the Boston Heroes along with 9 other residents of Boston out of 240 put forward by the people of his home town. In March 2022 he was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Boston in appreciation for his work on the COVID-19 pandemic.[26][27][28][29]

Van-Tam was knighted in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to public health.[30][31] He was unable to attend his scheduled investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle on 17 May 2022 due to self-isolating, having contracted COVID-19.[32] He was invested by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace on 7 July 2022.[33]

Army Cadet Force (ACF)[edit]

In October 2022, Van-Tam was promoted to Honorary Colonel for Medical Support, in the Army Cadet Force (ACF).[34] Van-Tam has many years of experience working with the ACF.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Van-Tam's grandfather was Nguyễn Văn Tâm, nicknamed the Tiger of Cai Lậy, the Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam. His uncle, Nguyễn Văn 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.[10]

Van-Tam is a supporter and season ticket holder at Boston United F.C.[36][37]


  1. ^ "Professor Chris Whitty". GOV.UK. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Dr Aidan Fowler". GOV.UK. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Nguyen-Van-Tam, Prof. Jonathan Stafford". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. 2021. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U293192. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ a b "General Medical Register". General Medical Council. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  5. ^ "'Didn't hurt a bit - thanks JVT!': Matt Hancock gets AstraZeneca jab from Professor Jonathan Van-Tam". ITV News. 29 April 2021. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Turner, Lauren (13 January 2022). "Jonathan Van-Tam to leave role as deputy chief medical officer". BBC News.
  7. ^ Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Aidan Fowler GOV.UK Retrieved 13 February 2021
  8. ^ Mendick, Robert (3 December 2020). "Jonathan Van-Tam: how a lover of metaphors became an unlikely cult hero". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Johnathan Nguyen-Van-Tam". International Vietnamese Academics Network. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  10. ^ a b Bagley, Geo. S. (1985). Floreat Bostona, The history of Boston Grammar School from 1567. The Old Bostonian Association. p. 242. ISBN 978-0951043103.
  11. ^ The Medical Directory 2006/07. Vol. 2 (162 ed.). London: Informa Healthcare. 2006. p. 2443. ISBN 1-843115425.
  12. ^ "General Medical Council". Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  13. ^ Nguyen-Van-Tam, Jonathan S. (2001). Epidemiological studies of influenza mortality, and policies and practices for influenza vaccination (D.M.). University of Nottingham. 990006619650205561.
  14. ^ Professor Jonathan Van-Tam to be Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Archived 21 March 2020 at the Wayback Machine University of Nottingham
  15. ^ Van-Tam, Jonathan; Sellwood, Chloe (2009). Introduction to pandemic influenza. CABI Publishing. ISBN 978-1845936259.
  16. ^ "Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses - Editorial Board". Wiley Online Library. doi:10.1111/(ISSN)1750-2659. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  17. ^ "New Deputy Chief Medical Officer appointed". UK Government. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  18. ^ New financial measures to help UK through coronavirus pandemic to be announced by government ITV News, 17 March 2020
  19. ^ "Coronavirus: UK trialling existing and new medicines". BBC News. 3 April 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  20. ^ Funding and manufacturing boost for UK vaccine programme Government of the United Kingdom, press release of 17 May 2020.
  21. ^ Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam to become Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Medicine & Health Sciences University of Nottingham, 12 January 2022. Retrieved 27 March 2022
  22. ^ Van-Tam, Jonathan (11 June 2021). "Open letter from Deputy Chief Medical Officer to UK residents who have volunteered to take part in COVID-19 vaccine studies". GOV.UK.
  23. ^ "Jonathan Van-Tam". Linkedin. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  24. ^ "Christmas Lectures 2021 - Going viral: How Covid changed science forever - Meet Jonathan Van-Tam". Royal Institution. 2021.
  25. ^ "Harveian Oration 2021 - Past Event". Royal College of Physicians of London. 2021. Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  26. ^ "Prof Van-Tam to be given freedom of Boston". BBC News. 1 November 2021. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  27. ^ "Professor Jonathan Van-Tam to be honoured with Freedom of Boston Borough". My Boston UK. 1 November 2021.
  28. ^ "Jonathan Van-Tam granted freedom of Boston in ceremony". BBC News. 21 March 2022.
  29. ^ Whitelam, Paul (21 March 2022). "Jonathan Van-Tam deeply humbled and shocked to receive freedom of Boston accolade". Lincolnshire Live. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  30. ^ "No. 63571". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 2022. p. N2.
  31. ^ "New Year Honours: Whitty, Van-Tam and Blair knighted, Lumley and Redgrave made dames". BBC News. 31 December 2021. Retrieved 31 December 2021.
  32. ^ Jonathan Van-Tam misses knighthood ceremony due to Covid BBC News, 18 May 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022
  33. ^ Prof Sir Jonathan Van-Tam hails colleagues at knighthood ceremony BBC News, 7 July 2022. Retrieved 10 July 2022
  34. ^ "No. 63895". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 December 2022. p. 23366.
  35. ^ Net, Forces. "Colonel JVT: Former deputy chief medical officer given honorary rank by Army Cadet Force". Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  36. ^ "Here's why Boston United has been trending nationally on Twitter". LincolnshireLive. 31 May 2020. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  37. ^ Johnson, Neil (17 September 2021). "Prof Van-Tam - Boston United superfan". BBC Sport.