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Israel Start-Up Nation team may receive COVID-19 vaccine at end of March

Chris Froome Israel Start-Up Nation
(Image credit: Ronen Tupelberg and BRIAN Veloimages)

Israel Start-Up Nation co-owner Sylvan Adams has confirmed that his team could receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this spring at a second training camp, but he underlined that it would only be possible once the state of Israel had achieved “herd immunity.”

Speaking at the team’s press conference on Monday, Adams argued that the state of Israel’s vaccine programme was progressing at a fast enough pace for vaccination to be considered in roughly two and a half months’ time.

“Approximately 25 per cent of the population has already received the vaccine and they’re saying that by the end of March every person in Israel will have received a second dose so we’ll basically have gotten herd immunity,” Adams said.

“At that point it may be possible to consider other categories of people, but we’re not going to jump the queue. If there are vaccines available, it may be possible to consider vaccinating our riders.”

Speaking at the team’s first 2021 training camp, held in Girona in Spain rather than Israel as had been the original goal before the pandemic rendered that impossible, Adams said that the second training camp would be the place where that hypothetical vaccination might happen.

“There might be an opportunity to explore that with the Ministry of Health, whether they [the riders] might be eligible for one shot and possibly hang around long enough to get a second shot. So these things are being discussed," noted Adams.

“We’ve got very good relationships with the various [government] Ministries there, the Ministry of Sport has encouraged us to have this second camp there so we shall see. I don’t have a precise answer, but hopefully we can do it, without jumping the queue or depriving anyone else.”

To date, the only team that had received vaccinations for COVID-19 were UAE Team Emirates during their pre-season training camp in the United Arab Emirates the first week of January. This was a voluntary programme for riders and staff as part of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine trials in the UAE.

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.