Newspapers report Covid hospitalisations over seven months as over seven days

14 September 2021
What was claimed

9,472 people were admitted to hospitals in England with the Delta variant of Covid-19 in the seven days to 29 August.

Our verdict

False. 9,472 people were admitted to hospitals in England with a confirmed case of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in the seven months to 29 August. This only included overnight stays.

“Data released by Public Health England showed 9,472 people were admitted to hospital with the highly transmissible coronavirus variant in the seven days up to 29 August.”

Sky, the Evening Standard and the Independent recently reported that 9,472 people were admitted to hospitals in England with the Delta variant of Covid-19 in the week to 29 August.

As reported by news outlet Reaction.life, this data covered the seven months, not the seven days, up to 29 August. The Independent has since corrected its report.

The data came from a report by Public Health England (PHE), which clearly states that it shows figures from 1 February to 29 August 2021.

Additionally, PHE told us that the data only covers a minority of people in hospital, as not all cases of Covid-19 in hospital are sequenced to determine which variant is present. 

The data also includes only those people with the Delta variant who had to stay overnight in a hospital after presenting to emergency care. It also included those patients who tested positive for Covid-19 on the day they attended hospital. Public Health England says these are people whose infection was likely picked up as part of routine testing in healthcare settings, but whose primary reason for attending hospital was likely not Covid-19.

If you exclude these people who tested positive on the day they were admitted, you’re left with 4,923 people who were admitted to hospital overnight with a known infection of the Delta variant. 

Weekly data on hospitalisations of people with the Delta variant isn’t available from these reports, which run on a fortnightly schedule.

However, across England in the week to 29 August, 5,407 people were admitted to hospital with any variant of Covid-19 which includes people who may have had Covid-19 but attended hospital for a different reason, and people who may have only tested positive once they were already in hospital. 

In recent months, the vast majority of cases identified as a specific variant have been cases of the Delta variant, meaning the total number of cases and the total number of Delta variant cases are very similar. 

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