Viral Facebook post: COVID-19 death rates in England are higher among vaccinated people than unvaccinated.
PolitiFact’s ruling: False
Here’s why: Referencing one chart in a 30-page report while omitting important context, bloggers falsely claimed in an article that COVID-19 death rates in England are much higher among vaccinated people than unvaccinated.
The article included the headline, “COVID death rates 4 to 1, vaccinated to unvaxxed.” It was shared on Facebook in a post that was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.
The claim makes a statistical error. The ratio it cites is based on raw numbers of deaths among vaccinated and unvaccinated people. It does not compare death rates, which would take into account the size of each group.
The claim references a chart in a UK Health Security Agency report that indicates during a three-week period in October and November, England had 3,430 deaths from COVID-19. Of those deaths, 2,822 were people who had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 587 were unvaccinated people. The rest were people whose vaccination status was not known.
The article linked in the claim doesn’t include those specific data points, but cites the ratio between them — 4.8 to 1 — as evidence that “The vaccine is deadlier than the virus.”
However, “it’s not a valid comparison,” said Luke Weeks, senior communications officer for the UK Health Security Agency, which recently replaced the agency known as Public Health England.
“Well over 90% of the adult population is double vaccinated, so the vaccinated cohort is over nine times the size of the unvaccinated cohort,” Weeks said, “A very small percentage of a large population is still more people than a higher percentage of a very small one.”
The same vaccine surveillance report the blog post cites provides the statistics in this context. During the three-week period, it says, England had 54.9 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people among those who were vaccinated and 125.4 deaths per 100,000 among those who were unvaccinated.
The vaccines offer more than 90% protection against mortality, the health agency’s report says.
Though the vaccine surveillance report was issued by the UK Health Security Agency, which encompasses all countries in the United Kingdom, the data in the report is only from England, Weeks said.
The claim was published by Mic Drop Politics, which copied the text of its post from another blog called The Expose.
The data about the numbers of deaths among the vaccinated and unvaccinated from the UK Health Security Agency is included in the Expose version, but not in the Mic Drop Politics article, which mentions only the ratio.
We rate the claim, “COVID death rates 4 to 1, vaccinated to unvaxxed,” False.
Email interview, Luke Weeks, senior communications officer, UK Health Security Agency, Nov. 26, 2021
Mic Drop Politics, “COVID Death Rates 4 To 1, Vaccinated to Unvaxxed,” Nov. 19, 2021
Office for National Statistics, “Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights: Vaccines,” Nov. 23, 2021
The Expose, “Covid Deaths Ratio Vaxxed to Unvaxxed 4:1 – Corporate Media Should Be Censored for Spreading Disinformation,” Nov. 17, 2021
UK Health Security Agency, About Us, accessed Nov. 30, 2021
UK Health Security Agency, “COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report: Week 45,” Nov. 11, 2021
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Vaccinated people in in England are not dying faster than unvaccinated