A Boston-born health boss who has helped guide the Prime Minister through the COVID-19 pandemic was subject to abuse by an anti-vaccine campaigner while working in London this week.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, who is England’s deputy chief medical officer, was chased by Geza Tarjanyi, while entering the Ministry of Defence building on Tuesday.
In a video circulating online, Mr Tarjanyi, a professional clown and family entertainer, accused Mr Van-Tam of “lying to the British people” and asked him “what was really in that needle that you put into Matt Hancock?”.
Mr Van-Tam gave the health secretary his first COVID jab in April and has worked as an advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout the lockdown restrictions, he has become known for his colourful metaphors and straight forward nature when delivering the latest news about the coronavirus pandemic.
From late-minute equaliser goals, to waiting for a train and how coronavirus is not like a yoghurt, he has brought us the details in easy to understand and rarely convoluted messages.
He recently opened a new gastroenterology day case suite at Lincoln County Hospital and has been seen administering the vaccine at the county’s vaccination centres.
During the video Mr Tarjanyi said: “Why are you continually lying to the British people? Why are you smiling? This country’s supposed to be in the worst pandemic of all time.”
Professor Van-Tam, in his only reply to the abuse, said: “It is.”
He also asks a receptionist at the Ministry of Defence to “get rid of this chap” after ignoring him, before walking away into another part of the building.
Downing Street has condemned the abuse.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “People working to fight the pandemic and save lives, which is what Professor Van-Tam is doing every single day, should never face that kind of appalling behaviour for doing their job.
“The right to free speech is fundamental to our democracy, but violence, threats or intimidation is absolutely never acceptable.”
Lancashire-based Mr Tarjanyi, whose professional name is Gayzer Frackman, is known online figure for his opposition to 5G mobile networks, fracking, mask-wearing and other public health measures during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He has previously also carried out a similar incident with Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.
Local health leaders have been asked about the incident.
The Department for Health and Social Care said it did not have anything further to add to the PM’s official statement.