Fact Check: Data From England And Wales Do NOT Show Teens Vaccinated For COVID-19 Are 3 Times More Likely To Die Than Unvaccinated Teens

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Data From England And Wales Do NOT Show Teens Vaccinated For COVID-19 Are 3 Times More Likely To Die Than Unvaccinated Teens Needs Context

Do data from England and Wales show teens vaccinated for COVID-19 are three times more likely to die than unvaccinated teens? No, that's not true: The United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics (ONS) says the information lacks context and doesn't take into account clinically vulnerable children. In addition, the office says, there's "no evidence in the ONS mortality data to suggest a link with the COVID-19 vaccines."

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by The Exposé on February 1, 2022, under the title "ONS data shows Covid-19 Vaccinated Teens are 3 times more likely to die than Unvaccinated Teens; is this why male Teen Deaths increased by 53% in 2021?" It opened:

According to numbers supplied by the Office for National Statistics, teenagers in England who have had the Covid-19 vaccine are over three times more likely to die than teenagers who have not had the Covid-19 vaccine, which may explain why deaths among teen boys increased by 53% following the introduction of the jab to this age group in 2021.

This is what the post looked like on February 3, 2022:

The Expose.png

(Source: Screenshot taken on Thu Feb 3 18:18:10 2022 UTC)

The Exposé article specifically looks at teens aged 15-19. In a February 3, 2022, email to Lead Stories, the ONS says the data cited "appears correct," but needs context:

There are various factors that could have caused a rise in deaths in this age group between summer 2020 and summer 2021. However, there is no evidence in the ONS mortality data to suggest a link with the COVID-19 vaccines. In table 12 of Monthly Mortality Analysis we report deaths involving the vaccine (ICD-10 code U12.9). There have been, so far, 15 deaths where a vaccine has been mentioned on a death certificate (across all ages) and 10 where it was the underlying cause.

Nearly 50 million doses of COVID vaccine had been delivered across the United Kingdom as of February 3, 2022, according to the nation's Health Security Agency. The ONS email also notes that a year-on-year comparison (2020 to 2021) isn't typical because it accentuates numbers that fall outside the norm:

It is worth pointing out that we always compare with the 5 year average (a measure of the number of deaths we would expect in a usual, non-pandemic year), rather than making year on year comparisons as numbers for individual years are more likely to fluctuate.

2020 is not a 'normal' year to compare with. We would expect reduced numbers of deaths from the types of causes young people tend to die from (external - car accidents, self-harm etc.) in 2020 because there were some level of restrictions in place (fewer people going out and about) and delays to coroners' investigations.

The ONS email says one other consideration is lacking in The Exposé article. Only a select group of teens were getting COVID vaccinations at the time:

It is also worth noting, for the bulk of the period (January October 2021), only clinically vulnerable children were allowed to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and clinically vulnerable young people were vaccinated much earlier than those with no comorbidities. Clinically vulnerable children and young people have a higher mortality rates than those with no comorbidities, and this explains why vaccinated teenagers have higher rate of death than those who remained un vaccinated.

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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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