Concerns have flooded social media in recent days after Fleck’s medical episode in the Blades’ win over Reading in midweek. In harrowing scenes, the 30-year-old was rushed to hospital having received 10 minutes of treatment on the pitch having suffered a seizure.
Sheffield United were quick to point out that Fleck had a separate medical issue that led to his seizure. As reported by the Daily Mail, a source close to the player said: “John Fleck’s issue was not vaccination related.”
Wigan Athletic forward Charlie Wyke was also hospitalised and though it was later confirmed he had not received a Covid vaccine, conspiracy theorists were quick to make a connection. Christian Eriksen, who collapsed while playing for Denmark in the summer’s European Championships, was also unvaccinated at the time.
A host of former football figures including former England stars Trevor Sinclair and Matt Le Tissier have broadcast these theories in the media in recent days, prompting scientists to brand the comments ‘irresponsible’.
“It is totally irresponsible to make these unsubstantiated comments,” Professor Keith Neal from Nottingham University told the Daily Mail.
Professor Guido Pieles, a sports cardiologist at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health, added: “At present I would say this is still a coincidence. I don’t think we can say this is suddenly increasing.”
“It may be tempting to blame Covid vaccines but pundits do have a public responsibility not to fuel vaccine hesitancy without any real evidence,” added Professor Robert Dingwall.