Covid: Misleading stat claims more vaccinated people die

  • Published
Related Topics
covid vaccination centreImage source, Getty Images

Some people, including those pushing an anti-vaccine agenda online, have been misinterpreting figures showing that a large proportion of those dying with the Delta variant of coronavirus had been vaccinated.

One conspiracy site even claimed vaccinated people were dying at higher rates than those who had not received the jab, which is untrue.

This site and others use real figures in a misleading way, to arrive at a completely false conclusion - that the vaccine may not be working or even doing more harm than good.

The latest Public Health England (PHE) figures show there were 92,029 confirmed Delta cases between 1 February and 22 June, most of which were identified in June.

Of these, 58% were in completely unvaccinated people and only 8% were fully vaccinated. For context, by the start of June more than half of adults in the UK were fully vaccinated. If the vaccines weren't helping, we would expect them to make up more than half the cases.

So we can see the vaccine is reducing cases.

Less alarming

The figures for hospital admissions and deaths are a bit more confusing.

Of the 117 people who died with the Delta variant, first identified in India, 50 (43%) had been fully vaccinated.

And on 13 June, a Daily Mail headline claimed the proportion of those dying who had been fully vaccinated had "scared" Prime Minister Boris Johnson into delaying the 21 June easing of restrictions, describing it as a "blow".

But what these figures actually show is less alarming.

The 43% figure relates to deaths only - so it misses all the vaccinated people who were exposed to Covid but did not catch it, or caught the virus but did not become very ill.

And by now, almost everyone at risk of dying from Covid has been vaccinated (more than 90%).

No vaccine is perfect in preventing people from getting Covid and therefore a small number of people will still die.

And in a world where every single person had been vaccinated, 100% of Covid deaths would be of vaccinated people.

But the actual number of people dying would be much lower - a 20th as many as if no-one was vaccinated, according to PHE estimates.

Fewer deaths

And there is another reason you cannot currently just compare the number of Covid deaths among vaccinated and unvaccinated people and come to any conclusions about how effective the jabs are.

Because most fully vaccinated people are over the age of 50 - and therefore more likely to die - while most unvaccinated people are young and healthy.

Follow Rachel on Twitter.