Fact Check: In UK, Fully Vaccinated ARE 82% Of COVID-19 Deaths, 66% Of Hospitalizations -- But Percentages Don't Tell Full Story

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: In UK, Fully Vaccinated ARE 82% Of COVID-19 Deaths, 66% Of Hospitalizations -- But Percentages Don't Tell Full Story % Misleads

Do fully vaccinated people account for 82% of recent COVID-19 deaths and 66% of hospitalizations in the UK? Yes, that's true. The figures are found in the COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report - Week 43 by the UK Health Security Agency published on October 28, 2021. But the numbers don't tell the full story -- the report from which the percentages are pulled emphasizes "raw data should not be used to estimate vaccine effectiveness as the data does not take into account inherent biases present such as differences in risk, behaviour and testing in the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations."

The story originated from an article (archived here), published by The Exposé on November 1, 2021, under the title "Official figures show Fully Vaccinated accounted for 82% of Covid-19 Deaths & 66% of Hospitalisations in England during the past month." It opens:

The latest figures published by the new UK Health Security Agency on Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths show that the Covid-19 injections still don't seem to be working.

The "Covid-19 Vaccine Surveillance Report - Week 43" was published by the UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) on Thursday, 28th October 2021 and it shows that the vast majority of Covid-19 hospitalisations between September 27th and October 24th were among the fully vaccinated population.

This is what the post looked like on The Exposé website on November 1, 2021:

The Expose.PNG

(Source: The Exposé screenshot taken on Mon Nov 01 15:50:43 UTC 2021)

Similar information was also presented in a video from The Joe Rogan Experience podcast posted to Facebook on October 26, 2021:

While the figures in the article and video are largely accurate, they aren't presented in context and ignore an important footnote from the UK government report in drawing the article's conclusion "that the Covid-19 injections still don't seem to be working." The footnote says:

In the context of very high vaccine coverage in the population, even with a highly effective vaccine, it is expected that a large proportion of cases, hospitalisations and deaths would occur in vaccinated individuals, simply because a larger proportion of the population are vaccinated than unvaccinated and no vaccine is 100% effective. This is especially true because vaccination has been prioritised in individuals who are more susceptible or more at risk of severe disease.

Individuals in risk groups may also be more at risk of hospitalisation or death due to non-COVID-19 causes, and thus may be hospitalised or die with COVID-19 rather than because of COVID-19.

The UK population was 68.1% fully vaccinated as of October 30, 2021, according to the UK's coronavirus website. That compared to nearly 58% for the United States through October 29, 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of November 1, 2021, everyone 16 years of age and older was eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination in the UK:

UK report.PNG

(Source: COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report - Week 43 screenshot taken on Mon Nov 01 16:34:56 UTC 2021)

The Executive Summary of the weekly surveillance report says the safety of COVID-19 vaccines is continuously being monitored by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency:

They conclude that overall, the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines outweigh any potential risks.

During the four weeks the COVID surveillance report looked at, from September 27, 2021, to October 24, 2021, 2,772 people died and 8,338 were hospitalized with the virus. That breaks down to 693 and 2,084.5 per week respectively.

Numbers from the same weekly government report were less detailed earlier in the pandemic, so direct comparisons are difficult. But there's no doubt that as vaccinations increased, the COVID death rate, especially among the unvaccinated, began a sudden decrease, according to the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS), showing how they benefitted from their neighbors getting immunized:

deaths by vax.PNG

(Source: UK Office of National Statistics screenshot taken on Mon Nov 01 20:55:06 UTC 2021)

When the delta variant was at its peak and the UK's vaccine program was still ramping up, total COVID deaths for the week ending January 22, 2021, hit 9,056, or more than 13 times the most recent report.

The ONS came to this conclusion in a report published November 1, 2021, titled "Deaths involving COVID-19 by vaccination status, England: deaths occurring between 2 January and 24 September 2021."

Between 2 January and 24 September 2021, the age-adjusted risk of deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19) was 32 times greater in unvaccinated people than in fully vaccinated individuals.

The website for The Exposé notes its posts have been restricted on three social media platforms to frame its plea for financial support. Lead Stories has debunked past articles on the site that claimed Public Health England data showed COVID-19 vaccines cause AIDS, among other claims.

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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.

  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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