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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Scientists reject pundits’ vaccine ‘theory’ after third footballer collapses in a week

However, public health experts and epidemiologists expressed concern at knee-jerk responses from former players who suggested there may be a link with the vaccine.

TalkSport, for example, had to cut off Trevor Sinclair, 48, from a broadcast as he questioned whether Fleck, who collapsed during his side’s win over Reading, had recently had the jab. “I think everyone wants to know if he [Fleck] has had the Covid vaccine,” he said.

With former professionals, such as Ramon Vega and Matthew Le Tissier, also wading in to demand investigations into links, scientists responded by reminding them of their “public responsibility”. “Given the track record of certain footballers in the field of anti-vaccine beliefs, it is totally irresponsible to make these unsubstantiated comments, as opposed to getting them properly dealt with,” said Prof Keith Neal, who has 25 years of experience in the research of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham.

Prof Robert Dingwall, a public health specialist at Nottingham Trent’s School of Social Sciences, said: “There are many reasons why on-field collapses may occur, even in clusters. We should all be careful not to blame any particular cause until they have been properly investigated. It may be tempting to blame Covid vaccines but pundits do have a public responsibility not to fuel vaccine hesitancy without any real evidence that this is a common factor in widely separated events.”

All the evidence from the experts concludes that the risks associated with Covid-19 dramatically outweigh the chance of developing a blood clot after having received the vaccine. Misinformation was spread after Christian Eriksen suffered on-field cardiac arrest during Euro 2020 in the summer.

Inter Milan have since confirmed that he had not even had his first jab at the time of his collapse.

However, despite facing criticism online from TalkSport listeners, Sinclair, the former West Ham and England forward, had doubled down on his concerns, tweeting: “Everyone I speak to about these heart problems suffered by footballers (which worryingly seem to be happening more regularly)… are they linked to Covid vaccines or not?”

Le Tissier, the former Southampton forward, had tweeted that Fifpro, the players’ union, should be “a little bit concerned about how many of your members are suffering heart problems during matches”, while Vega, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur, said: “It needs to be looked into.”

Prof Jonathan Ball, a molecular virologist at the University of Nottingham, said: “These are rare things, which happen sporadically. Studies have shown that Covid is more likely to cause myocarditis and pericarditis than the vaccines.

“People can collapse for a variety of reasons, so, whilst it might be tempting to link these events with vaccination you have to be sure the association is true. This is what the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency look out for – instances of rare events that are seen more often in vaccinated people than you would expect normally.”

Wyke, 28, was treated by Wigan’s medical staff at the club’s Christopher Park training base before an ambulance took him to hospital. Wigan later confirmed he was in a stable condition and talking, but he would be not available for selection for the immediate future. It was confirmed that Wyke had not had the vaccine and all his tests for COVID had proved negative.

The incident came less than 48 hours after Fleck collapsed during the second half of Sheffield United’s Championship game with Reading on Tuesday. He received treatment on the pitch before he was transported to hospital. Fleck, 30, was released on Wednesday morning.

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