Instagram post lacks vital context about Covid deaths among the vaccinated

15 November 2023
What was claimed

The vaccinated population accounted for 95% of Covid-19 deaths in England in the 12 months between 1st June 2022 and 31st May 2023.

Our verdict

This figure is correct, but it simply reflects the fact that almost all the most vulnerable people have been vaccinated. There is good evidence that the Covid vaccines are highly protective against death from the disease.

A post on Instagram liked more than a thousand times claims that English data “shockingly revealed that the vaccinated population accounted for 95% of COVID-19 deaths in the 12 months between 1st June 2022 and 31st May 2023”. It has also been shared on X (formerly Twitter).

Although this figure is correct, it isn’t necessarily shocking. It simply reflects the fact that virtually all of the people most vulnerable to Covid have been vaccinated against it. Even though vaccines are highly protective against dying from Covid, the small proportion of vaccinated people who do die therefore heavily outnumber the unvaccinated ones.

Bad information can be dangerous, particularly if people base important health decisions on it. Vaccines in general, and Covid vaccines in particular, are a very common subject of misinformation.

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Where the claim comes from

The Instagram post appears to be a screenshot from an article on the Exposé website, which we have fact checked many times before.

The article analyses data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which it says shows that between June 2022 and May 2023, 95% of the people in England whose deaths involved Covid were vaccinated against the disease.

It goes on to say: “These aren’t the kind of figures you would expect to see if the COVID-19 injections really are up to 95% effective at preventing death, are they?”

But in fact, although 94.6% of the Covid deaths in this period did involve vaccinated people, this is entirely consistent with a highly protective vaccine, in a country where the overwhelming majority of the people most vulnerable to Covid have been vaccinated.

Those who received booster doses were also less likely to die of Covid. In a bulletin based on the same data cited by the Exposé, the ONS itself says: “Monthly age-standardised mortality rates (ASMRs) for deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19) have been consistently lower for all months since booster introduction in September 2021 for people who had received a third dose or booster at least 21 days ago, compared with unvaccinated people and those with just a first or second dose.”

The same was true for the booster dose that followed in spring 2022.

Image courtesy of Daniel Schludi

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