In the video that emerged on social media, Whitty can be seen struggling to free himself from two men as they laugh at the camera.
The London Metropolitan Police said that they spoke to “all of those involved” in the incident, which occurred Sunday in London’s St. James’s Park, and that an investigation is underway.
The pandemic has made health officials around the world into household names as never before, but also opened them up to criticism and made them the targets of some people’s anger.
In the United States, Anthony S. Fauci, the top federal government infectious-disease expert, has had a security detail for more than a year, and he has regularly spoken about his family receiving death threats.
Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, was recently followed and verbally abused in the street by an anti-vaccine activist who accused him of “lying to the British people.”
This is also not the first time that Whitty has been harassed in public. In one video that emerged in February, Whitty is shown on a street while being denounced as a “liar.”
Priti Patel, Britain’s home secretary, suggested Whitty may be offered police protection. When asked about it on Times Radio, she said: “It’s important we make sure that Chris is given the right kind of support. It is terrible to see such an important public figure — someone that day in, day out has been serving our country in the way in which he has to keep us safe — being subject to such appalling abuse.”
As chief medical officer, Whitty has played a key role in trying to save Britain from the pandemic and help speed along its vaccine program. For more than a year, he has also stood alongside Johnson and other ministers at Downing Street news conferences and delivered news about lockdowns, wearing masks and the closure of shops and schools.
On Monday, Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid said England would not fully reopen until July 19. Johnson had previously pushed back the full unlocking of restrictions by four weeks to that date amid concerns over the fast-spreading delta variant.
The delta variant is now responsible for more than 90 percent of new infections in Britain.
At the time, Johnson said there would be a review of the new deadline after two weeks.
Over the weekend, thousands of protesters spilled out onto the streets in London. Many of them denounced the lockdown.
Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, on Twitter called the harassment of Whitty “disgusting behaviour.”
“Chris Whitty is a dedicated public servant who has worked tirelessly to help get us through this crisis,” he wrote.