The problem about the anti-vaccine position is in every country, but in the US it gains exposure when it manifests itself in the sports world.
For NBA athletes, refusing to get the vaccine in the arm can hurt the pocket. The country’s National Basketball Association has decided to financially punish players who are prevented from participating in valid matches because they are not immunized, as they conflict with health regulations in cities like New York and San Francisco.
The most notorious and most recently affected by the decision may be Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving. If you insist on not taking the vaccine and the municipal rules remain in force, the player must be excluded from 41 matches of the season that started this week (19), suffering a total loss of 15.6 million dollars (about 88 million reais ). “I’m doing what I think is best for me,” Irving said, without detailing the reason for his decision.
LeBron James, current wing of the Los Angeles Lakers, went public recently to confirm that he had been vaccinated after months of uncertainty and vague statements. “I know I was skeptical at first, but after doing my own research, I saw that the vaccine would be the best for me and my family,” said the athlete in a my fault public.
Despite being immunized, James is not comfortable in the role of “poster boy” for vaccines, and says he respects each individual’s decision – in a clear nod to Irving’s attitude.
“Sport is a microcosm of a large society, so what we see happening among players happens among the general population as well,” he told the Brazil in fact the sports psychologist, Dr. Jarrod Spencer. According to World In Data, as of October 19, 54% of the US population had been fully vaccinated (compared to 50% in Brazil, according to the same source).
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Athletes present, however, an important difference in relation to the general population. “Some of these sportsmen are concerned about how the immunizing agent can affect their performance, which is a valid point, since it is natural that they have their resistance”, says Professor Dr. Richard J. Simpson, who teaches nutritional science at the report. University of Arizona.
A team from the University conducted a study led by the Brazilian Dr. Helena Angelica Batatinha, a visiting researcher, who analyzed the effects of immunizing agents in adults. “We are not investigating how the vaccine affects the performance of athletes, but how it can impact the metabolism of healthy adults when they exercise,” he says.
The trial included adult women and men who received the second dose of vaccine two weeks before the evaluation.
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Dr. Simpson states that there was indeed a slight increase in heart rate, oxygen consumption and stress-related hormone level in the analyses, but adds: “It’s important to point out that this increase is very small and I don’t believe that there is scientific evidence that proves that vaccines can harm the performance of athletes”.
And if the main reason for the refusal by the immunizing agent is the performance in courts and fields, Dr. Simpson argues that even in this case, the best path is precisely vaccination. “When an athlete is infected, he has to be isolated and is forced to stay out of competition – and then his performance is nil. The vaccine can prevent contagion.”
While science does not prove any determinant impact of the vaccine on professional performance, Spencer, the sports psychologist, points out that the decision to take or not the immunizing agent has consequences for an athlete’s career. “This choice can affect the sportsman’s public image, but it is worth remembering that this coin has two sides, and the professional’s agent can explore his decision whatever his final word about the vaccine is,” he says.
Aside from sports concerns or a denial of refusal, another reason for athletes to refuse may be the historical legacy of racial discrimination in the US.
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One of the most tragic episodes in this story was the Tuskegee experiments, conducted between 1932 and 1972, when black men with syphilis were deceptively treated with placebos instead of an effective drug, in this case penicillin, by the US Centers for Disease Control .
A survey conducted by the Association for a New York Better found that among whites, 78% would get the vaccine immediately; among blacks, this number was 39%.
Also according to the COVID Racial Data Tracker, American blacks died at higher rates of covid-19 than any other racial group, and account for about 15% of all deaths caused by the virus.
“I’ve heard that argument and I agree that, historically, it’s a lag in science in general,” comments Dr. Angelica. She claims that in the case of science in humans, most of those properly tested are white males. “There are few tests carried out on women, blacks, Indians, Asians and other minority populations”, he concludes.
Still, the research coordinator in Arizona says that testing of vaccines against covid “has been done in all populations.”
A gamble for health
Based on scientific data, several states and municipalities are adopting measures to make vaccination mandatory in certain environments and settings.
In the case of sport, referees, fans and support teams already have the responsibility to present proof of vaccination. However, to extend this obligation to athletes, it is necessary to negotiate with the union of each sport.
While there is no consensus on how to proceed in the field of sports, Dr. Angelica resorts to science so that no one cares about it – in or out of the arena.
“Vaccination is important because covid is much more serious than any vaccine reaction. Furthermore, we still don’t know the long-term effect of the virus on the body.” And he concludes: “it is still necessary to think about society: the more people vaccinated, the more we protect ourselves and those around us”.
Edition: Arturo Hartmann