Basing return of sport on a vaccine is ‘dangerous’ and ‘ridiculous’

Prof Kingston Mills is an immunology expert and a former national marathon champion

Predicating any return to sport after Covid-19 on the discovery of a vaccine could prove "dangerous" and "ridiculous", according to Prof Kingston Mills.

He is the professor of experimental immunology and head of the Centre for the Study of Immunology at Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute in Dublin.

A survey by the Club Players’ Association (CPA) published on Tuesday revealed that more than 40 per cent were either uncertain about (21 per cent) or opposed to (22 per cent) a return to GAA club training and matches before a vaccine makes the activities safe.

The president of the Japan Medical Association, Dr Yoshitake Yokokura, also said last month a Tokyo Olympics in 2021 would also be "exceedingly difficult" without a vaccine.


“That’s a very, very risky proposition,” says Mills. “The chances of us having an effective vaccine within a year is maybe 20 or 30 per cent. It could be a lot longer.

“If you look at other infections like HIV, 20 years on, we still don’t have any vaccine that works against it. With malaria we’ve a very iffy and poor-quality vaccine and we’ve been working on it for 20 years.

“It’s no walk in the park, creating this vaccine, so I think it’s a very dangerous rule or standard, or whatever the word is, to take, to say you’re not going to do anything until there’s a vaccine.

“The whole pandemic might simply disappear, and some people are waiting on a vaccine before they resume sport. That’s ridiculous. You make the decision on whether or not we still have a pandemic, not predicated on a vaccine. Same with the Olympics taking place next year: that shouldn’t be predicated on whether or not we have a vaccine. It could be the noose they swing themselves with, so I wouldn’t be making statements like that at all. It could make it a lot more difficult to make that return possible.”

Can distance runners keep safely apart? And what does that mean for the Dublin Marathon? Read Ian O'Riordan's full interview with Prof Mills here.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics