Anna Soubry was wrong to say that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of Covid-19 patients are unvaccinated

4 January 2022
What was claimed

The overwhelming majority of people in hospital with Covid have not been vaccinated.

Our verdict

This is not supported by the latest evidence, which shows that 46% of admissions in England in the four weeks up to 19 December were unvaccinated people.

We know that the overwhelming majority of people in hospital on the Covid wards, with Covid, Omicron or Delta, are people who have not been vaccinated.

Speaking on Sky News [starting at 5min 00 secs], the barrister and former government minister Anna Soubry said that most people in hospital with Covid-19 are unvaccinated.

While the Covid vaccines definitely work, Ms Soubry’s comments are not supported by the latest data as of 3 January, when the interview took place.

According to the most recent available data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), in the four weeks up to 19 December 2021, about 46% of hospital admissions in England within 28 days of a positive Covid test were among people who had not been vaccinated.

The rest had received either one or two doses before their positive test, and a few did not have NHS numbers that could be linked to the vaccination system.

The same point has been made on Twitter by Jamie Jenkins, a statistician, in response to Ms Soubry’s comments.

New data from UKHSA, which is typically published on Thursdays, may show that unvaccinated patients make up the majority in more recent admissions. However, at the time that Ms Soubry was speaking, it does not seem possible that she could have known this.

It is also possible that the percentage of unvaccinated people “in” hospital with Covid at a given time may be different from the percentage of admissions. However, again, we cannot find data on this, so there is no reason to suppose that it would substantiate  Ms Soubry’s comments.

How Ms Soubry responded

Full Fact made contact with Ms Soubry to ask if she was using another source of information, but at the time of writing we have not received a reply.

Ms Soubry did post a tweet on 4 January referring to her comments on Sky News. It included a local news report claiming that 12 out of 14 patients in critical care in Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust were not vaccinated.

This does not tell us the proportion who were admitted to hospital (including those who do not receive critical care), however. Nor does it tell us about the proportion nationally.

We have written before about how the percentage of unvaccinated admissions fell gradually as more people were vaccinated, and why this does not mean that the vaccines are ineffective.

On the contrary, there is overwhelming evidence that the Covid vaccines are very effective at reducing someone’s chance of getting seriously ill with the disease.

But because the vaccines do not protect people perfectly, a small minority still become ill enough to need treatment in hospital. And with around 90% of people over 12 having at least one dose so far, including many of the most vulnerable, this small share of a large population became enough to make up a majority of hospital admissions.

More recently, the proportion of unvaccinated hospital admissions has been rising again. 

We deserve better than bad information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted Sky News and Anna Soubry to request a correction regarding this claim.

Sky News did not take any action.

Anna Soubry did not respond. 

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