U.S. Swim Team, Unvaccinated Michael Andrew Managing COVID-19 Challenges

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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The U.S. swim team is navigating the challenges around COVID-19 protocols during its training camp in Hawaii, ahead of its departure for Japan next week. That group includes Michael Andrew, who announced during a media availability Thursday that he is not vaccinated.

While the coaching staff, members of whom spoke earlier in the day, didn’t detail specifics, Andrew was asked in a later session about his vaccination status and confirmed that he is not vaccinated. He is believed to be one of the only members of the camp, if not the only one, not to have received some protection against the virus.

Here is Andrew’s full answer:

“I am not fully vaccinated. I’m not vaccinated. My reason behind it is, for one, it was kind of at the last moment, I didn’t want to put anything in my body that I didn’t know how I would potentially react to. As an athlete on the elite level, everything we do is very calculated and understood. For me in the training cycle, especially going into Trials, I didn’t want to risk any days out, because we do know there were periods where you take the vaccine, and you deal with some days off.

“As far as that goes, USA Swimming and all of us here have been through a very strict protocol with lots of testing, masks, socially distanced, I was staying away from the crowds and everything like that. With Tokyo, it’s the same thing with testing every day. So I feel very safe and protected knowing that we’re minimizing risk as much as possible, but personally I have not had the vaccine yet and don’t plan on it in the future. So we’ll see as things go forward.”

Andrew mentioned later that he contracted COVID-19 last December but recovered, “very easily, having no issues.” He discussed it in January on Brett Hawke’s podcast.

“We are being very conscious and very safe with our athletes, regardless of vaccination or not,” head coach Dave Durden said. “That is the most important thing.”

Andrew, who is qualified for Tokyo in the 100 breast, 50 free and 200 IM, mentioned keeping his distance during a public training session Thursday in Hawaii with fans in attendance. His disclosure comes on a day that Japan imposed a new state of emergency and announced plans to limit spectators after previously allowing them at venues.

Michael Andrew was on a panel with veteran Chase Kalisz. Both expressed, in Andrew’s words, “massive gratitude” that the Games are happening. Kalisz echoed the responsibility that everyone on the team, vaccinated or not, feels in being guests of Japan.

“I don’t think anyone’s here with the mindset that we’re going to be out and about and causing extra issues,” Kalisz said. “We’re all prepared to be safe. We’re all prepared to be locked down and we’re all prepared to go to the pool and go back to our rooms and do nothing else. But at the end of the day, we’re here for our jobs.”


  1. avatar

    Nothing to worry about ; when you have The Big G on your side, you’re basically an Invulnerable Super Human. What a fine example of Americana for the world.

  2. avatar

    If he’s had COVID 19, then he is less likely to contradict it in the future than someone who’s only had the vaccine.

    • avatar
      Public Health Professional

      This is incorrect. The vaccine provides greater protection than getting the virus, and people who have been infected should get the vaccine to prevent reinfection.

      • avatar
        Wendy Sawyer

        I would appreciate if you shared your data and source.

      • avatar

        Not sure that is true…. natural immunity is usually much better…

      • avatar

        There indeed have been studies that getting COVID is better than at least vaccines like J&J’s. It’s unclear whether it’s better than the mRNA ones but it probably isn’t statistically at least if you were asymptomatic. The country’s decision to prioritize the vaccines to those who’ve had COVID on the same level as those who haven’t had it has probably contributed to killing many people.

  3. avatar
    Lisa Hanf

    Most likely he has had COVID at some
    point! He probably has to wait 3-6 months
    before he can get the vaccine.

    • avatar
      Public Health Professional

      People can get the covid vaccine as soon as they’ve recovered from covid infection. The only case where they would need to wait longer is if they received monoclonal antibody treatment, in which case they need to wait 90 days. Andrew said he recovered easily from covid so it is doubtful he had that treatment.

  4. avatar
    jj graham

    What about his father, who is there to help coach the “team?”

  5. avatar
    Tim Morrison


  6. avatar
    A Different Medical Profession

    Natural immunity from having had COVID is as good or better than any of the vaccines as far as medical science has been able to discern.

    • avatar

      This is false. Are you a legit MD?

    • avatar
      William Steinbrink

      Two recent studies from Harvard’s New England Journal of Medicine show that B & T cell antibody response is much more vigorous in people who have had the mRNA vaccination than people who were naturally infected with Covid. I am a legit, Harvard trained MD. – William H Steinbrink, MD

  7. avatar
    Retired MD

    Andrew’s natural immunity protects him and those around him. There is no data showing that vaccines provide better natural immunity than natural infection for any disease – covid included.

    There’s also vaccine adverse events to consider. We have reason to believe that those who’ve had covid are at INCREASED risk of vaccine complications.

    • avatar

      Shameful and modeling bad behavior to others that think they too are super human.

    • avatar

      A summary Google search of your statements by anyone interested will prove your statements at best incomplete. Michael Andrew and family can do whatever they want. It is America and we are all free. But the rest of us absolutely need to be vaccinated to protect ourselves against the virus and people like him who are selfish, undereducated and irresponsible.

    • avatar
      Johnny Twobad

      You wrote, “Andrew’s natural immunity protects him and those around him.”
      I’d add…SO FAR.

  8. avatar

    Did MA share an antibody test? Or a positive COVID test from when he was ill? Or are we just taking people at their word and then allowing them to huddle together for team pictures?

    I wish I had $10 for every person that told me they didn’t need to get vaccinated bec they got sick real bad last Winter and it was probably COVID but they didn’t get tested.

  9. avatar

    so this guy does not have to vaccinate and thousands of friends and family can’t watch and support their loved ones participate in the defining moments of their lives…so we support this persons freedom and ignore all others.?

  10. avatar

    I wonder how his teammates feel about this and why didn’t he get vaccinated months ago. Katie Ledecky hadn’t seen her mom since December, 2019 before the Trials out of an abundance of caution and he blows it off. It’s adolescent behavior. I wouldn’t be surprised if Japan doesn’t let him enter the country.

  11. avatar
    William Steinbrink MD

    Harvard’s New England Journal of Medicine last month noted 2 articles that showed the B and T cell response was much more vigorous with mRNA vaccination than being naturally infected with Covid. I am a Harvard trained doctor.

    • avatar

      You may have impressive credentials, but Google allows everyone access to expert research. The most recent studies from Israel are showing rates of symptomatic infection at 40% amongst mRNA vaxxed populace, versus 1% getting reinfected vs Delta variant. I will trust their unfiltered data long before accepting the BS our CDC has concocted with their intentional censorship of breakthrough infections.

  12. avatar

    According to raw numbers out of Israel you are 6.7 times more likely to get covid if you are vaccinated than if you have been previously infected with COVID-19. Quit putting politics in front of TRUE facts.