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The NFL's chief medical officer wants fans to know New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is not a doctor. So, when Belichick says something that's in no way backed up by science, you probably shouldn't listen to him.
That's precisely what happened Wednesday. Belichick responded to a question about Cam Newton's release by saying a "high number of players, coaches and staff members" have tested positive for COVID-19 after they were fully vaccinated.
The NFL's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, wants Belichick – and NFL fans — to know that's not true. Dr. Sills and his team have gathered data over the past couple weeks, and it shows there are higher rates of infection among individuals who are not vaccinated, according to MassLive.com.
“We released our data last week from the first three weeks of August, and that data has consistently shown higher rates of infection in unvaccinated players than in vaccinated players. That was true at intake when they first came into training camp and it was true during that first three-week period of August that we released,” he said. “From a medical perspective, go to any major medical center in the country and as you walk around, those patients who are hospitalized, those who are in the ICU, you see the evidence the vaccines are working.
“We know that vaccines are working. What we are seeing are some vaccinated people who test positive. But their illness tends to be very short and very mild, and that’s exactly what the vaccines were designed to do,” he continued. “Let’s all remember the vaccines were designed to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. They’re doing a terrific job of that so far, not only in the NFL where we haven’t seen any serious cases but in society as a whole.”
COVID positives among NFL players in August were much higher among unvaccinated players. Only 0.3 percent of vaccinated players tested positive for COVID-19 from Aug. 1-21. That figure jumped to 2.2 percent among unvaccinated players, a rate seven times higher, according to the NFL's research.
COVID-19 vaccinations playing a role in 53-man rosters
Belichick denied Newton's vaccine status played a role in his release. Newton is not vaccinated, and missed time in camp after a misunderstanding led to a COVID-19 violation. That allowed rookie Mac Jones to get more reps in practice and eventually take Newton's job as the team's starter.
Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer took things a step further, admitting vaccine status played a role in how he built his team. The NFLPA took issue with that statement, as there's reportedly an agreement between the union and the league that players can't be cut due to vaccination status. The Jaguars released a statement trying to clarify Meyer's comments, but that may not stop the union from pursuing action against Meyer.