Bahrain has offered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Formula 1 personnel attending pre-season testing and the Bahrain Grand Prix as part of its extensive vaccination programme.
The kingdom, which has a population of 1.5million, now has five different vaccines in circulation – Sinopharm, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Johnson & Johnson.
The Bahrain International Circuit has now communicated to all F1 personnel registered as attending the grand prix that it is making a voluntary vaccination programme available to then.
Pre-season testing has moved to the Sakhir circuit and will take place from March 12-14, two weeks before the season opener.
That means “the vast majority of participants will be present in Bahrain for a three-week period ahead of the race”, says the BIC, which “allows a unique opportunity to provide additional protection for those who wish to take up the opportunity”.
Those who choose to accept the offer would be vaccinated on arrival and then receive the second dose 21 days later before leaving.
The circuit says Bahrain has achieved “one of the highest vaccination rates globally” and is therefore extending the programme to “major events” to provide “additional benefit to both participants and the national population”.
However, The Race understands F1 as an organisation has declined the offer and expects teams to do likewise.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali recently insisted the championship would not wish to ‘jump the queue’, with various countries at different stages in vaccinating their populations and many still doing so in certain phases.
“Formula 1, as a UK-based organisation, has no plans to be vaccinated as a travelling group ahead of the already established rollout of vaccines through the health system in the UK,” an F1 spokesperson said.
The coronavirus pandemic, which erupted early last year, has killed more than 2.5million people worldwide.
Accelerated efforts to introduce a vaccine have come to fruition in recent months, and now more than 140million vaccines have been administered in at least one dose – with more than 50million people reportedly now fully vaccinated.