Vaccinated people are not more likely to die of Covid-19

18 July 2022
What was claimed

The UK government has quietly published a report confirming the vaccinated account for 94% of all Covid-19 deaths since April.

Our verdict

Of all Covid-19 deaths in England in April and May, 94% were among people who were vaccinated. This is to be expected, as vaccine uptake in vulnerable groups has been so high. It does not mean the vaccines are ineffective or unsafe. In fact, the same data shows that, adjusting for age, vaccinated people are less likely to die of Covid.

What was claimed

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows the vaccinated population were suffering immense immune system damage in April and May 2022.

Our verdict

No it doesn’t. It shows that vaccinated people are less likely to die with Covid than unvaccinated people.

A blogpost on a website called the Exposé has the headline: “Whilst you were distracted by Boris resigning, the UK Gov. quietly published a report confirming the Vaccinated account for 94% of all COVID-19 Deaths since April, 90% of which were Triple/Quadruple Jabbed”.

The blog points to a dataset from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and claims it “proves things have been terrible for the vaccinated population in England over the past couple of months.”

GB News presenter Mark Dolan also tweeted a graph from the article, which claims to show the number of unvaccinated, vaccinated and triple vaccinated people who’d died from Covid-19. Mr Dolan added the caption “Oh dear, let’s hope this isn’t true”, and his tweet was retweeted more than 12,000 times.

This tweet is likely to be misleading without further context. And the article itself is false when it says that this data “clearly showed the vaccinated population were suffering immense immune system damage”.

As we have written before, this is not true. No evidence of a link to this kind of large scale immune system damage has been reported by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which monitors vaccines in the UK. Some people in the past have falsely suggested that this might be happening, based on a misunderstanding of infection rates among unvaccinated people. 

Why these numbers can mislead 

The figures in the graph are correct, and 94% of deaths where Covid-19 was listed on the death certificate as a cause of death in April and May 2022 were in vaccinated people, according to ONS data for England. But this is not unexpected considering how widespread vaccination has been.

And it certainly doesn’t mean the vaccines are ineffective or unsafe.

The vaccines aren’t 100% effective, so some vaccinated people will still sadly die of Covid-19. But because such a large proportion of the population has been vaccinated, especially the elderly and most vulnerable, it is not unexpected that there are more deaths in the vaccinated population than the unvaccinated.

As Sarah Caul, Head of Mortality Analysis at the ONS, pointed out on Twitter, the same ONS data tables show that for Covid-19 deaths, unvaccinated people had higher mortality rates than people who have ever been vaccinated against Covid in both April and May 2022.

Ms Caul said: “The number and characteristics of those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated are different, [and] we need to take these into account when looking at the number of deaths for each group”.

On the graph being shared by the Exposé and Mr Dolan, she added: “The numbers are correct but do not tell the whole story. We should take into account the population of each group which tells us that those vaccinated have a lower rate of death involving COVID-19 than those unvaccinated.”

Image courtesy of Spencer Davis

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