The impact of Covid-19 on the Premier League could still be felt in the coming months after it was reported that a host of English top flight clubs have as few as SIX of their players fully vaccinated against the virus.
The ongoing public health crisis has already laid waste to several sporting events in the past 18 months, forcing the postponement of both the Olympic Games and the European Championships last year, but as English football continues to emerge from its enforced coronavirus slumber which saw fans barred from stadiums and the European transfer market hugely affected, fears are growing that the impact of Covid-19 could still be felt in the Premier League.
Per a report by the Daily Mail, two clubs in England’s top division have as few as six players fully vaccinated against the virus – statistics which pale in comparison to the likes of Wolves, Brentford and Leeds United who are thought to have between 89 and 100% vaccination rates.
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The report also suggests that as whole, around 30 to 35% of players are fully vaccinated – compared to 70% in the English Football League (EFL) – but that these figures are expected to rise as some players have received their first jab and are awaiting a second.
These statistics have caused some alarm as English football moves towards winter where viruses such as Covid-19 are more easily spread. It is also thought that teams playing in European competitions such as the Champions League or Europa League have higher vaccination rates compared to those who aren’t – though Wolves, Brentford and Leeds are thought to be exceptions.
However, it is also understood that a host of top Premier League players at some of its biggest clubs are still declining the jab. It was also suggested by the Daily Mail that some Premier League players had refused a request to become involved in a public relations campaign designed to promote the various vaccines.
The issue of player vaccinations is again likely to be a hot topic ahead of the forthcoming international window where some players will be forced to undergo mandatory isolation on return from so-called ‘red list’ countries – with clubs thought to be awaiting formal guidance from the Premier League after voting unanimously to disallow players from travelling to areas deemed as Covid-19 hot spots.
Several players, though, including Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani and Chelsea’s Thiago Silva expressed their disillusionment at the ruling after being forced to miss international fixtures earlier this month.
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One potential proposal is to reduce the isolation time for vaccinated players and therefore encouraging a wider take-up of the jab, while FIFA and the UK government have engaged in talks to create Covid ‘bubbles’ which would reduce the need for a player’s isolation on their return from a ‘red list’ country.
The outcome, per reports, could lead to isolation time being reduced to just five days, meaning that players would be required to miss less training and game time with their clubs.
Figure released this week showed that in the days between 13 and 19 September, some 3,154 players and club staff were tested for Covid-19 – with just two positive tests returned as a result.