The government hasn’t said the vaccine will cause a third wave of deaths

16 April 2021
What was claimed

A document on the UK government website says the third wave of deaths will come from the vaccine.

Our verdict

Modelling suggests that when a third wave occurs, hospitalisations and deaths will mostly be in those who’ve been vaccinated. This is because so many vulnerable people will have been vaccinated by then, not because the vaccine is harming them.

What was claimed

The vaccine doesn’t work.

Our verdict

There is lots of evidence that proves this is wrong.

A video spreading on Instagram claims to show evidence of the government saying that the third wave of deaths during the pandemic will come from vaccines.

The person recording the video can be heard saying: “People need to read this: ‘The resurgence in both hospitalisations and deaths is dominated by those that have received two doses,’ read it, ‘of the vaccine, comprising around 60% and 70%’. So what they’re saying here is that the vaccine doesn’t work.”

The video shows a genuine government document, and the voice in the video does correctly quote parts of it.

But an important piece of context follows, which is not mentioned in the video. The document then says: “This can be attributed to the high levels of uptake in the most at-risk age groups, such that immunisation failures account for more serious illness than unvaccinated individuals.”

So the model is expecting that by a certain point, because so many people will have been vaccinated, most of those in hospital during a third wave will have been vaccinated. The vaccines are not 100% effective, so a small proportion of vaccinated people, especially those in older age groups who are more likely to be hospitalised with Covid-19 (who are also more likely to be vaccinated), will still end up in hospital.

The paper expands more on this later, saying that it’s expected that most hospitalisations and deaths in a later resurgence will be in those who’ve had two vaccine doses, because uptake of the vaccine in those most vulnerable to severe Covid-19 has been so high, not because the vaccine doesn’t work. 

A third wave of deaths and hospitalisations is expected, not because of the vaccine, but because of the planned spring easing of restrictions.

The document was written by SPI-M-O, the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group, which reports to SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which in turn advises the government. SPI-M-O looked at various models for what could happen, coming out of different universities (in this case Imperial College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Warwick).

There have been multiple studies that show the three vaccines approved for use in the UK, made by Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, are highly effective against severe Covid-19.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false because modelling suggests that most people who are hospitalised or die in a third wave will have been vaccinated, because so many people will have been vaccinated by then, not because the vaccine will cause this.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.