Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England who became a household name during the coronavirus pandemic, is stepping down.
Van-Tam, a professor in health protection, has frequently joined U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Downing Street for televised press conferences on coronavirus and measures needed to suppress the virus.
He became well known for his clear talking with explanations often involving sport-themed analogies.
The news will come as blow to Johnson. The prime minister is facing calls for his resignation after admitting Wednesday that he attended a garden party at his Downing Street residence in May 2020 when the U.K. was in lockdown.
“It has been an honour to work with JVT and I am hugely grateful for his advice & the vital role he has played in our vaccination programme,” tweeted Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
Van-Tam is returning to the University of Nottingham, having been on secondment as DCMO since 2017.
He described his time in this role as “the most challenging” of his professional career, especially the COVID response.
“We all wish COVID had never happened,” he said in a statement. “Notwithstanding, it has been the greatest privilege of my professional career to have served the people of the U.K. during this time.”
Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said Van-Tam has been an “outstanding DCMO and public servant,” adding: “His communication of public health advice and science has been remarkable.”
Van-Tam received a knighthood in the most recent New Year’s Honours for his services to public health. He will take up the role of pro-vice-chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences at Nottingham.