England spinner Jack Leach has revealed he was informed by text message that he was on the Government’s vulnerable person list for coronavirus and is awaiting news of when he will be invited to take the vaccine.
Leach suffers from Crohn’s Disease and has a weakened immune system as a result of the medication he takes, a complicating factor when it comes to viral infection.
The 29-year-old’s health was a major concern last winter when he contracted sepsis in New Zealand, later telling PA that he was worried for his life, and also falling ill alongside several others on the subsequent trip to South Africa.
He is currently back on duty in Sri Lanka, where his slow left-armers are set to play a prominent role in the two-Test series, but he revealed he has been working through the psychological consequences of being told he is in the higher risk group for Covid-19.
“I did get texts at the start from the Government telling me I’m in the vulnerable category, which was hard to deal with because I felt like I was healthy,” he told Inside Track on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I didn’t feel ill or anything. That was a little bit scary. I had some really good support from doctors and psychologists to work through that. I’ll wait to see when they want to give me the vaccine.
“I wondered where I’ll be in the order, but I’m still a long way to go. In terms of sportsmen, I don’t think they should get the vaccine earlier just because they play sport.”
Asked if he felt an element of vulnerability, he answered: “I do a little bit. I guess everyone who hasn’t experienced it has a certain element of ‘how will I react to this?’.
“The medication I’m on does weaken my immune system and I had some illness last winter. Looking back at the symptoms I had in South Africa, I do wonder if that was coronavirus. Obviously, from the little stuff I do know, that doesn’t mean I couldn’t get it again so for me it’s focusing on what I can control with it and doing all the right things.
“I feel fit and healthy other than my Crohn’s. I have to, through my diet and supplements, keep my Crohn’s as well as it can be but it’s always going to be there.
“I was very ill in NZ with sepsis, which makes me feel like if I did get coronavirus, I’d be able to fight it off.”
The England and Wales Cricket’s Board’s chief medical officer Dr Nick Peirce is with the squad in Sri Lanka, taking a direct role in overseeing health provisions around the squad. A consultant clinical psychologist, Dr James Bickley, is also travelling with the group to provide additional mental health as the challenges of life in a bio-secure bubble continue.