Vaccinated people do not have “a 885% more likelihood of dying” due to the delta variant that unvaccinated ones

An article claiming “that people who have received two doses of the vaccine against covid-19 has a 885,7% more likely to die due to the delta variant than those unvaccinated” is circulating on WhatsApp. This is a MISLEADING datum. First, it would actually be 862.5%, but in any case the text is not taking into account what is the probability of dying in vaccinated age groups, which are also the oldest age groups, compared to those who are not, which are overwhelmingly young people.

"These data, published by Public Health Service in England, shows us that people who have received two doses of the vaccine against covid-19 has a 885.7% more likelihood of dying due to the variant Delta than those unvaccinated"

The link you sent us highlights a number of figures previously published by the english Public Health Service (table 4), which show that of the 53,822 confirmed cases of covid infection with the delta variant (more contagious than the others, but not necessarily more deadly) in unvaccinated people, 44 died. "This represents 0.07% of confirmed cases in unvaccinated persons," the document notes. In reality, it would be 0.08%, if the mathematical operation is done correctly. 

Immediately afterwards it makes the same relation, but with fully vaccinated people: “Of the 7,235 confirmed cases of covid-19 delta variant infection, [...] 50 have died. This represents 0.69% of confirmed cases in people who have been fully vaccinated”. Hence, it concludes that “the people who have received two doses of the vaccine against covid-19 are 885.7% more likely to die due to the delta variant than those unvaccinated”. This statement is inaccurate and misleading: dividing 0.69 by 0.08 and multiplying it by 100, and the result is 862.5%.

The deceased were over 50 years old

Despite the relation is true if both percentages are compared, it ignores such decisive elements as the age of vaccinated people: “Effectively, the percentage of deaths by the delta variant among vaccinated people is larger then the percentage of deaths in unvaccinated people”, Adelaida Sarukhan, immunologist and scientific writer at the Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal, in Catalan) in Barcelona, tells Verificat.

However, the immunologist recalls that "priority in vaccination was given to those in the most fragile health (older people and those with comorbidities)". Therefore, she continues, "fully vaccinated people in the UK include the most vulnerable populations". The expert also recalls that all 50 deaths in vaccinated people occurred in people over the age of 50.

As of 7 July 2021, 50% of the UK population is fully vaccinated. This means that the other half of the population is still unvaccinated, approximately the younger half of the population, who are also at the lowest risk of dying from covid or from any of its variants. 

Another point to be clear about, the immunologist concludes, is that “by simple probability, the more vaccinated people there are in a population, the more infections and deaths are expected to occur in the vaccinated group compared to unvaccinated, because no vaccines are 100% effective.

Vials work against the delta variant

From the British document conclusions can be extracted such as vaccines are also efficient over the variant first detected in India: “If one focuses in the other numbers of the table —infections, hospitalisations or intensive cares—, it is obvious that vaccines are working very well against the delta variant”, analyses the immunologist. 

For example, in the UK almost 9 (88%) per 10 infections occurred in unvaccinated people, and “only 5% of vaccinated people ended up in intensive care (versus 23% in unvaccinated people)”, she concludes.

We are a team of young journalists from Barcelona who work independently to combat misinformation in our territory and beyond. We rely on facts and data to verify what politicians say and the falsehoods circulating on social media.

We need you. With your contribution, you will contribute to a healthier political debate and help promote educational projects to teach citizens how to navigate information chaos and defend themselves against misinformation.

You can contribute as much as one euro and it won't take you more than 45 seconds (we've counted them). If you can, please mark your contribution as monthly and so we can continue to do our job rigorously and independently. Thank you so much.