What now for Rugby League and Covid?

League Express editor MARTYN SADLER suggests that Rugby League will have to learn to live with the major variant of the Covid virus.


I was struck by an article in The Guardian last week in which the former Chairman of the UK’s vaccine taskforce said that Covid should be treated as an endemic virus like flu, and that government ministers should end mass-vaccination after the current booster campaign.

Dr Clive Dix took over from Kate Bingham as the Chair of the vaccine taskforce in December 2020, after the first vaccines had been created, so I think it’s fair to assume that he knows what he’s talking about.

Dr Dix now suggests that we should reverse the approach of the past two years and return to a “new normality”.

“Mass population-based vaccination in the U.K. should now end,” he was quoted as saying.

“We now need to manage disease, not virus spread. So stopping progression to severe disease in vulnerable groups is the future objective.”

“We should consider when we stop testing and let individuals isolate when they are not well and return to work when they feel ready, in the same way we do in a bad influenza season.”

He appears to be saying that we have got over the worst of Covid and from now on we should regard it as a condition that is relatively mild for most of those people who catch it and we should treat it as such.

We all must accept that Covid, in one form or another, will be with us forever and we can’t continue to treat it as a deadly disease when for most people, other than the elderly and those who have vulnerable health conditions, it clearly isn’t.

That is surely a signpost towards the fact that sporting authorities should stop panicking about the pandemic and recognise that it is unlikely to be harmful to most of us.

The RFL and the clubs have done a great job in trying to deal with Covid, but there comes a point at which we must recognise that their job is effectively done.

Of course there is always the possibility that new variants of the virus could emerge that are more deadly than omicron. But most experts regard that possibility as unlikely, given the normal pattern of viruses that mutate over time into less harmful, although possibly more infectious, versions of themselves.

We are surely nearing the point, which has been widely debated elsewhere, at which we accept Covid as equivalent to the common cold.