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No, Christian Eriksen’s sudden collapse was not from the COVID vaccine

Eriksen is in stable condition at a hospital in Copenhagen. He released a statement Monday in which he said he felt better.

By: New York Times |
Updated: June 15, 2021 12:57:06 pm
Denmark's Christian Eriksen in action during a UEFA Euro 2020 clash against Finland. (Reuters)

Linda Qiu and Ben Decker

The sudden collapse of Danish soccer player Christian Eriksen during a game at Euro 2020 on Saturday has spurred a wave of unfounded speculation over his vaccination status.

Eriksen, a 29-year-old midfielder who also plays for the Italian champions Inter Milan, went into cardiac arrest in the first half of Denmark’s opening game against Finland and was resuscitated. Contrary to some social media posts, his condition was not because he had received a coronavirus vaccine.

In fact, Eriksen has not been vaccinated, Inter Milan’s director told Gazzetta Dello Sport, an Italian sports publication.

That did not stop social media users from suggesting or claiming that he collapsed after receiving the vaccine. False rumors that he received the Pfizer vaccine or “got the jab” in May spread on Twitter and were reposted to Facebook in English, German, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Romanian, Portuguese, French, Polish and Arabic.

Some cited as their source of information a supposed radio interview on an Italian station with an Inter Milan doctor. But the radio station, Radio Sportiva, said on Twitter that it had not interviewed any Inter Milan medical staff members about Eriksen’s condition.

Others have pointed to an English translation of an Italian-language interview between Inter Milan’s club doctor and Gazzetta Dello Sport as proof that Eriksen was vaccinated. The physician, Dr. Piero Volpi, told the sports publication in an interview published May 18 that all the players would be vaccinated at the start of the next championship. Volpi did not specify whether he was referring to Euro 2020 or the start of Serie A, Italy’s top soccer league, which restarts in August.

Eriksen is in stable condition at a hospital in Copenhagen. He released a statement Monday in which he said he felt better.

It’s rare for athletes to collapse during games, but not unheard of. Fabrice Muamba, an English soccer player who is now retired, collapsed during a 2012 game between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur; his heart stopped beating for 78 minutes. Muamba told Sky Sports News that Eriksen “being alive is the best thing that can come out of Euro 2020.”

A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology estimated an incidence rate of 1.04 sudden cardiac deaths per 100,000 person years among professional soccer players. This is relatively low, according to the study, but higher then the 0.72 rate among all sports-related incidents. A separate 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine identified soccer and race events as “the sports associated with the greatest number of cases of sudden cardiac arrest among competitive athletes.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating reports that a small number of teenagers and young adults vaccinated against the coronavirus may have experienced heart problems. It will hold a meeting Friday to discuss the cases.

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