There have been all manners of reactions secretly declared interests in buying doses of COVID-19 vaccine. In a tweet, John Shannon, a Canadian hockey broadcaster, said the National Hockey League (NHL) planned a private purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
However, the vaccine in question was not to be used by the NHL teams alone. They intend to share it with all the constituents involved in the potential upcoming season.
These claims for the private purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine by NHL came before the FDA approval of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to be used in emergencies. A few days later, the FDA approved the vaccine, making Canada the third country to support a COVID-19 vaccine.
Will the COVID vaccine be the answer NHL is waiting for? A few stakeholders, including Senators’ owner, Eugene Melnyk, believes rapid testing may be one way to get people back in rinks and not the vaccine. But why is Eugene Melnyk adamant about giving the new vaccine a try? Let’s find out below.
Eugene Melnyk’s Take on the New COVID Vaccine
While he applauds the vaccine’s launch as a significant step towards the battle against the novel coronavirus, he believes it is not the best option now. Since many will need the vaccine will in large quantities in a short span, mass distribution will be a challenge, which could cause delays in the NHL 2021 season.
Melnyk believes that rapid testing could be a great answer in the short-term. Additionally, he considers testing for sportspeople is essential as it helps identify those found free of the virus and encourage them to exercise social distancing while playing.
With the vaccine in play, players and fans (if allowed back) are most likely to forfeit the social distancing guidelines, which could be detrimental. It is excellent if the NHL would adopt the vaccine but procedurally without the rush that its need comes with.
What to Expect if NHL Go for the COVID Vaccine in a Rush
If the NHL leadership does not consider everything Eugene Melnyk is saying, then the NHL will be facing some problems following a rush decision. Some of the possible issues in waiting could be:
1. A Possible Fall-Out with Fans and Supporters
The news of NHL’s claims wanted to purchase the vaccine once it is available already attracted backlash and criticism. The public’s main fear was that the NHL would cut the line to get hold of the vaccine.
The general public felt this was unfair and selfish as there are more needy persons than the strong and healthy players to who the vaccine would benefit.
However, Cybulski tries to neutralize the already heaping mix of adverse reactions with a different school of thought.
He claims that the NHL’s move to acquire the vaccine for its players shouldn’t be a surprise. The NHL is a professional sports league that brings 4-5 billion revenue a year and would do anything to see its players are safe. They wouldn’t want to see their players missing games like in NFL.
2. Rubbing Shoulders with the Law
It has been evident from the beginning that the vaccine’s initial distribution should aim to reach the most vulnerable populations in society. If NHL wants to use the vaccine in time before the season begins, they will have to go against the FDA’s will. This action could create tension between the NHL and the FDA laws.
The National Advisory Community on Immunization listed the following groups as the most vulnerable and fit to receive the vaccine first.
- The frontline health workers
- The elderly
- Care home staff and long-term residents
- Indigenous communities
If the NHL goes ahead of the line and accesses the COVID-19 vaccine before the listed groups above, it may attract law and civil rights activists’ wrath. Something like that can see the NHL delay their calendars even further as they answer to the charges. That is not a condition they should find themselves in anytime soon.
3. Bringing to Life the History of Selfish Interests
Based on records, it seems NHL is always keen to put its interests fast in scarcity times. In 2009, during the H1N1 virus outbreak, the vaccines were just being introduced, and the most vulnerable in the society were to get the vaccine first.
However, Calgary Flames players could access the vaccine together with their families and the team’s staff. That happened as the supply for the vaccine to the most vulnerable was diminishing in the public domain.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Stanley Cup Playoffs were underway, the NHL went for private COVID-19 tests. However, they claimed that the bubble in use and question at the moment was an independent entity that did not affect the operations of the public health system.
The public has a reason to doubt the NHL’s motives, considering they have shown the potential of breaching the public’s trust before in similar issues. So, it is prudent for NHL officials to reconsider the idea of ‘jumping the line’ and save their image from negative taints. Otherwise, they will be having a damaging cold season with backlash and trolls all over the internet.
What Next for NHL’s Fight against COVID?
If anything, NHL ownership should consider taking the advice of Senators’ team owner, Eugene Melnyk. At the moment, it is wise if the young, vibrant, and healthy players focused on observing the CDC’s safety guidelines against COVID and regular testing. That should keep them healthy until the right time for the vaccine comes.
If the NHL staff has persons falling under the vulnerable people category, they should not shy away from putting them in the forefront. The arenas should also be another point they put their focus and energy on. The NHL team owners should ensure the arenas are sanitized, and social distancing is maintained by fans who will be getting in.
Everyone wants to be safe from the novel coronavirus and would do anything in their reach to fight the virus. However, doing so at the expense of others, especially the most vulnerable groups, is against humanity’s rule.
The act is even worse when it comes from a public figure like the NHL. More action is needed in the NHL arenas and observing the initial COVID-19 preventive measures than required in scrambling for the vaccine.
Pursuing the vaccine ahead of time would mean reducing fans when they are allowed back into the arenas. The majority of disgruntled fans would prefer boycotting the games to show their disappointment. A COVID-19 vaccine could be useful for NHL but only if accessed at the right time.