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Almost 90 per cent of players on the top-ranked US college football team are vaccinated, its coach revealed, representing a level of vaccination coverage that is more than double that for the state overall.
The University of Alabama’s Nick Saban said during a press briefing on Wednesday the Crimson Tide, as the team is known, were “almost at a threshold where we don’t have to test” for coronavirus.
That figure was “pretty close to 90 per cent”, local media reported him saying on Wednesday at a press event for college athletic teams in the south-east of the US.
That number stands in stark contrast to the overall level of vaccination coverage in Alabama, which is experiencing an increase in new daily coronavirus cases and is wedged between several other states with some of the highest infection rates, and lowest vaccination rates, in the country.
Alabama has fully vaccinated 33.7 per cent of its residents, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. That is the lowest level of coverage in the US and about half the share of top-ranked Vermont. It also compares to the national average of 48.7 per cent.
The state has given a first dose to 51.5 per cent of adults, compared to the national average of 59.6 per cent. Only Wyoming, Louisiana and Mississippi have given first doses to a smaller share of adults.
Alabama has averaged about 14 new cases a day per 100,000 people over the past week, the 12th-highest per capita rate in the US, according to CDC figures. The state borders second-ranked Florida to the south-east and sixth-ranked Mississippi to the west.
With Arkansas and Louisiana, which rank first and fourth in the US by per capita infections, sitting to the west of Mississippi, and second-ranked Missouri to the north of Arkansas, the south-eastern region has become the country’s hotspot in the latest wave of coronavirus cases.
Greg Sankey, commissioner for the Southeastern Conference of college athletics, was reported on Monday to have said that six of the league’s 14 football teams had reached 80 per cent. Those 14 teams hail from states where the percentage of fully vaccinated residents is below the national average and that are also experiencing numerous new Covid-19 outbreaks linked to the highly-transmissible Delta variant.