Fact Check: Misleading Statistic Says Vaccinated Make Up Four In Five COVID-19 Deaths In England

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: Misleading Statistic Says Vaccinated Make Up Four In Five COVID-19 Deaths In England High Vax Cover

Does the claim that the vaccinated account for four in every five COVID-19 deaths in England tell the complete story? No, that's not true: It is misleading because it fails to consider the context of very high vaccine coverage in the population. The claim pulls numbers from a recent U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) report, but does not include the report's various caveats and explanations on how to interpret the data.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by The Daily Expose on December 18, 2021, under the headline "Triple & Double Vaccinated accounted for 4 in every 5 Covid-19 Deaths in England over the past month despite most vulnerable getting Booster in October." The article opened:

The latest figures published by the new UK Health Security Agency on Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths show that the vaccinated population still accounted for 4 in every 5 Covid-19 deaths over the past four weeks even though those who are deemed to be the most vulnerable to Covid-19 received their 'booster' jab in September and October.

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

The article includes tables from the UKHSA report, which can be read in full here. Table 10, on page 37, looks at COVID deaths and is reproduced in the article -- but not completely. The article removed the footnote from table 10 that specifically addresses the correct interpretation of the data. The omitted footnote reads:

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.

Throughout the U.K., nearly 90% of the population ages 12 and up has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Elsewhere, the report states about table 10:

These data are published to help understand the implications of the pandemic to the NHS, for example understanding workloads in hospitals, and to help understand where to prioritise vaccination delivery. These raw data should not be used to estimate vaccine effectiveness. (Emphasis original)

The article is very similar to one The Daily Expose published in September 2021. We debunked that story, for the same reasons as above. The previous article, which claimed that 80% of COVID deaths occurred within the vaccinated population in Scotland, failed to take into account that more than 91% of people over the age of 18 in Scotland had had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine at that time.

Lead Stories has debunked other stories by The Daily Expose as well. See here and here for those stories, in which we found that vaccine materials transferred in December 2019 were not vaccines for the coronavirus that causes COVID, and that official data does not show that more people have died from the vaccines than from COVID.

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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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