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28 May, 2021 14:08

‘I don’t fancy it at all’: England rugby star Henry Slade branded a ‘Covidiot’ for refusing to take coronavirus jab

‘I don’t fancy it at all’: England rugby star Henry Slade branded a ‘Covidiot’ for refusing to take coronavirus jab

England rugby international Henry Slade has prompted a media storm in his home country after revealing that he refuses to take a Covid-19 vaccine, saying that he "doesn't trust" the science behind the jab.

Slade, who suffers from Type-1 diabetes and is therefore considered to be in a group who are particularly vulnerable to a Covid-19 infection, was offered access to the vaccine as the UK government seeks to fast-track jabs to those who may need it the most - but the Exeter Chiefs star says that he won't be taking up the offer because he feels "perfectly fit and healthy".

"There is no way of knowing what it could do," Slade told the Daily Telegraph.

"I have had vaccines in the past and have fallen pretty unwell with them afterwards. 

"I don't know if that has anything to do with the diabetes or not. I am going to stay away from this one. I just think there hasn't been anywhere near enough testing to deem it safe.

"I don’t think you can trust it, can you? I don’t think [vaccination against Covid] has been going [for] long.

"There is no way of knowing what could happen with it in the future. I am perfectly fit and healthy. I don’t fancy it at all."

Slade added that he received Covid-19 tests "three, four times a week anyway".

Some cases of blood clots have been linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine but experts maintain that these instances are extremely rare. Data from the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency revealed that there have so far been 332 cases of blood clots and 58 deaths. 

Around 24.2 million first doses and a further 10.7 million second doses have been administered to date in the UK, leading to an incidence rate of around 13 blood clots per million first doses injected.

Health professionals have indicated that the rewards of taking the vaccines far outweigh any potential risk which might be associated.

Slade's position on the Covid vaccine has prompted a fierce debate online, with some backing his right to object to the mass vaccination program, while others have said that he is "entitled to his own opinion, even if it is a stupid one". 

"Aren't rugby players supposed to be the intelligent ones?" asked another fan, while a third said that "high-profile people should keep quiet if they are not having it, as the vaccine is important for the good of society as a whole – not just a personal choice."

Noting the negative reaction online, though, Slade issued a statement Friday in the wake of his interview with the Telegraph to say that he is in now way "offering advice to the general public" with regard to his stance on the Covid-19 vaccine.

"Following an article in today’s Telegraph newspaper, I would like to make the following statement," said Slade in a statement published on the Exeter Chiefs website.

"The comments attributed to me in regards to the Covid-19 vaccination form a very small part of an exclusive interview I had with the newspaper, which was set up to talk about living with Type-1 diabetes.

"Not only as a professional sportsman, but also a person who has to closely monitor my health levels every day, I am acutely aware of the importance of vaccines and the role it plays in helping save lives.

"From my own personal experience, I have encountered issues in the past with the use of vaccines and I am continually wary around this area. That said, I have no hidden agenda against the current, nationwide roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

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"When the time comes for me to make an informed decision on whether or not I take up the option of having the vaccination, I will of course consider the thoughts of my family and friends, the latest Government advice, as well as all others around me.

"In no way whatsoever am I offering advice to the general public as to the pros and cons of the vaccination programme, everyone has a right to their own opinion on this matter, but given my past experiences, I wish to make the correct decision for myself."