Professor Chris Whitty: who is England's chief medical officer, is he married - and how much is his salary?

Prof Whitty has become a familiar face over the course of the Covid crisis

Professor Whitty has become renowned over the course of the Covid crisis (Getty Images)
Professor Whitty has become renowned over the course of the Covid crisis (Getty Images)

Professor Chris Whitty is one of the names that has become synonymous with the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

England’s chief medical officer has flanked Boris Johnson during multiple press conferences, calmly explaining coronavirus statistics and politely asking for the “next slide, please”, and he’s appeared on breakfast shows urging the public to stick to restrictions.

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The epidemiologist has become renowned over the course of the Covid crisis - so much so that he’s had memes and even merchandise made after him.

So, who is Professor Chris Whitty - and how did he become the UK Government’s top medical adviser?

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Who is Professor Chris Whitty?

Professor Chris Whitty has become a familiar face over the course of the pandemic, as he has appeared on television time and time again to warn the public about the dangers of the virus.

And England’s chief medical officer, who is 54 years old, is more than qualified to do so.

He is a practising NHS consultant physician and epidemiologist, with an extensive background in the study of infectious diseases - including Ebola.

Professor Whitty is also the Gresham Professor of Physics at Gresham College.

He became CMO in October 2019, and his role involves acting as the government’s principal medical adviser, while working as chief scientific adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care.

Graduating from Oxford University in 1991, Professor Whitty went on to train in infectious diseases and tropical medicine.

Since then, the epidemiologist has undertaken research and worked as a doctor in Africa and Asia, as well as the UK.

He worked as a Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine before becoming CMO.

Professor Whitty’s career in government started years ago, back in 2009, when he became chief scientific adviser to the Department for International Development (DFID).

He stayed in this role until 2015, focusing on the UK’s response to the West African Ebola epidemic.

Then, he held the positions of deputy government chief scientific adviser and interim head of government science and engineering profession between 2017 and 2018.

As CMO, Professor Whitty is a part of the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which has been advising ministers on the coronavirus pandemic response.

Where did he grow up?

Professor Whitty, the eldest of four brothers, spent part of his childhood growing up in northern Nigeria.

He was then sent to the UK for prep school, before boarding at Malvern College, a private school in Worcestershire.

His father, Kenneth Whitty, worked for the British Council, and often spent long periods of time abroad.

In 1984, Professor Whitty tragically lost his father, who was assassinated by terrorists while he was running the British Council in Athens.

Is he married?

Said to be a relatively private person by those close to him in Whitehall, not much is known about Professor Whitty’s personal life.

It is publicly known, however, that he is unmarried and doesn’t have any children.

How much does he earn?

As chief medical officer, Professor Whitty earns between £205,000 and £210,000, according to NHS figures published in 2020.

The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, is on a salary of up to £185,000.