A vaccine-skeptic dad died from COVID-19, realizing too late that he should have got the shot, his doctor said

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A vaccine-skeptic dad died from COVID-19, realizing too late that he should have got the shot, his doctor said
A member of NHS critical care staff treats a COVID-19 patient at King's College Hospital in London, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo
  • A 34-year-old dad who avoided COVID-19 vaccines later died of the illness.
  • His doctor said that he wanted to 'turn back time' and get jabbed he became seriously ill.
  • Around 70% of the UK has been fully vaccinated, and vaccine hesitancy is rare, official data shows.

A UK man who refused the COVID-19 vaccine said he wished he could "turn back time" before he died, according to multiple sources.

Matthew Keenan, 34, was a soccer coach who became one of the sickest patients on the COVID-19 ward at Bradford Royal Infirmary in northern England, Dr. Leanne Cheyne said in a July 11 tweet.

The date of his death is unclear, but media reports and tributes from friends were posted Monday.

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Cheyne, a consultant in respiratory medicine, said Keenan gave permission for her to share his picture and condition. In the picture, he is sitting up with an oxygen mask connected to a ventilator.

At the time, he was still alive.

"Self-confessed vaccine skeptic until he caught Covid, if he could turn back time he would," Cheyne wrote. "Our sickest patients are unvaccinated & under 40. Matthew is fighting for his life ... save yours."

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He had shared a photograph of a positive lateral flow test on Facebook on July 2, saying he felt "like I been hit by a truck," adding the hashtag #covidisreal. His subsequent posts said he was self-isolating.

Regional newspaper The Yorkshire Post shared numerous tributes following his death from friends and his soccer community.

The Speak In Club, a mental health support group, described Keenan as "genuinely one of the nicest people you will ever meet and the life and soul of everything," adding: "He lit up everywhere he stepped."

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As of June - the latest data available from the UK's Office of National Statistics - around 4% of the UK population expressed some hesitancy around the COVID-19 vaccine, with 96% feeling positive about it.

But a vocal minority of skeptics have held numerous protests involving high-profile conspiracy theorists.

On Sunday, David Icke - proponent of the anti-semitic "Illuminati" conspiracy theory - along with Piers Corbyn, an anti-vaxxer and brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn - joined thousands in a protest in central London, as Insider's Bethany Dawson reported.

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The UK's vaccine rollout has been speedy, aided by an aggressive approach to obtaining doses as early as possible. More than 70% of the UK's population over the age of 18 is fully vaccinated as of Sunday, according to government data.

Keenan's positive test came as UK cases were rising steeply, They peaked at more than 50,000 per day by July 17, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Two days later, almost all COVID-19 restrictions were removed on what was dubbed "Freedom Day."

The country's cases had since declined for six days in a row as of Tuesday.

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