Fact Check: Claim That 80% Of COVID-19 Deaths Occurred Within The Vaccinated Population In Scotland Is Misleading

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: Claim That 80% Of COVID-19 Deaths Occurred Within The Vaccinated Population In Scotland Is Misleading High Vax Cover

Does an article that makes the claim that 80% of COVID-19 deaths occurred within the vaccinated population in Scotland in August 2021 tell the whole story? No, that's not true: The article is misleading because it leaves out the important fact that Scotland has high vaccination coverage. According to the latest figures, more than 91% of people over the age of 18 in Scotland had have at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. As no vaccine is 100% effective, it stands to reason then that in a place where the vast majority of people are vaccinated, most deaths would be among those vaccinated. And while the percentage sounds high, the absolute number of deaths is not: 123 people died of COVID that month in Scotland.

The article (archived here) was published by The Daily Expose on September 8, 2021. Titled, "EXCLUSIVE - 80% of Covid-19 deaths in August were people who had been vaccinated according to Public Health data", the article opened:

Further evidence proving the Covid-19 vaccination programme is a huge failure has been released which confirms throughout the whole of August 80% of the people who allegedly died of Covid-19 had been vaccinated against the disease.

Users on social media saw this at the time of writing:

The article cites statistics from Public Health Scotland, Scotland's national public health agency. It considered data from two agency reports, published in August 2021 and September 2021. Comparing the figures in Table 17 in both reports, the article concluded that the number of COVID-19 related deaths by vaccination status between August 5 and August 26, 2021, was as follows:

  • Unvaccinated population: 25 deaths
  • Partly vaccinated population: 6 deaths
  • Fully vaccinated population: 92 deaths

The article continued:

This means the unvaccinated population have accounted for just 20% of alleged Covid-19 deaths throughout the whole of August, whilst the fully vaccinated accounted for 75% of them. But couple the partly vaccinated deaths with the fully vaccinated deaths and you can see that throughout August 80% of deaths occurred among the vaccinated population.

Although the article's math is not wrong, the story is highly misleading because it does not address Scotland's vaccination coverage. According to the latest figures, more than 91% of people over the age of 18 in Scotland had have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and more than 84% have had two doses. With such high coverage, it makes sense that most deaths would be among those vaccinated since most Scots are vaccinated.

Imagine, for example, if every single person in Scotland were vaccinated. In that case, 100% of COVID-19 deaths would be among those who had had the shot.

No vaccine is 100% effective, but the approved COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to significantly reduce one's chance of getting the disease and of getting very sick. In fact, the same report cited by The Daily Expose contradicted the article's claim that Scotland's vaccination program is a "huge failure." The Public Health Scotland report read (see page 40):

COVID-19 vaccines are estimated to significantly reduce the risk of mortality for COVID-19, however a small number of COVID-19 deaths are still expected in vaccinated people, especially in vulnerable individuals where the vaccine or the immune response may not have been effective. Evidence has shown that vaccination is highly effective in protecting against death from coronavirus (COVID-19). Data published by Public Health England (PHE) has shown that individuals who receive a single dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the AstraZeneca vaccine have approximately 70 to 85% lower risk of death with COVID-19 compared with unvaccinated individuals. Vaccine effectiveness against mortality with 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine is around 95 to 99% and with 2 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine around 75 to 99%. Modelling analysis from PHE estimates that 105,900 deaths have been prevented in England as a result of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, up to 20 August.

Lead Stories reached out to Public Health Scotland to ask about the article. We will update this story, as appropriate, if we receive a response.

We have debunked claims published by The Daily Expose before. See here and here for those stories, in which we found that vaccine "candidates" transferred in December 2019 were not for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and that official data does not show that more people have died from the vaccines than from COVID-19.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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