By: Arron Williams
March 13 2023
Data from the ONS does not support the conclusion that people died due to the Covid-19 vaccines, the data has been misrepresented.
A March 1, 2023 article by conspiracy site The Exposé claims that COVID-19 vaccines increase the risk of death. The article uses data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) "Deaths by vaccination status" datasets to claim that in the first six months of 2021, 30,305 people died within 21 days of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and that a further 123,796 died 21 days or later after having the vaccine. The article further claims that data from 2023 shows vaccination increases the risk of death by 276 percent, reaching the conclusion that eight times more people died due to COVID-19 vaccines over a six-month period than died of COVID-19 over an 18-month period.
The data from the ONS does not support the claims made by The Exposé and thus cannot be used to infer that the COVID-19 vaccines are harmful or responsible for deaths. The Exposé misrepresents the ONS data to form unsupported conclusions.
The ONS data does display figures for deaths among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. The figures The Exposé presents are taken from the "Deaths involving COVID-19 by vaccination status, England" data set published in September 2021. In total, the data does show that there were 30,305 deaths within 21 days of vaccination. It also shows that there were 123,796 non-covid deaths 21 days or later after vaccination. It also lists the unvaccinated COVID-19-related deaths as 38,964 and the unvaccinated non-COVID-19-related deaths as 65,170, which, when combined, account for 104,134 unvaccinated deaths in the first six months of 2021. However, despite the figures, beyond the statistics for the COVID-19-related deaths, the data does not provide any information on the cause of death. The data does not suggest nor present any evidence that can suggest the COVID-19 vaccines caused any of these deaths or increased the risk of death. The number of deaths alone do not suggest any wider implication of cause.
The data does, however, suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines were effective in reducing the risk of death. As stated in the data's “Main points" section on the ONS website, "The risk of death involving COVID-19 was consistently lower for people who had received two vaccinations compared to one or no vaccination, as shown by the weekly age-standardized mortality rates (ASMRs) for deaths involving COVID-19."
Furthermore, while the data does show that there were more deaths in the vaccinated demographic, this isn't unexpected as the majority of the population in the U.K. has been vaccinated. As seen in the U.K. government's "Vaccinations in the U.K. dataset," roughly two-thirds of the U.K. population was vaccinated within the first six months of 2021. When looking at the table for first-dose vaccinations, by June 30, 2021, over 40 million people had received their first dose of the vaccine. Therefore, the vaccinated make up the majority of the population in the U.K.
The ONS told Logically that "put simply, when most of the population is vaccinated, most deaths are among vaccinated people. People die all the time, of various causes, regardless of vaccination status of any kind." Therefore, it is not unexpected that a higher number of deaths occurred in the vaccinated demographic due to this demographic being the majority.
Logically has previously investigated claims from The Exposé and found them to be either false or misleading. Logically found that The Exposé actively misrepresents and cherry-picks ONS data to make unsubstantiated anti-vax claims. The Exposé and other spreaders of medical misinformation create correlations and then assume causation, despite the data being unassessed and in a raw format, thus unable to support these conclusions.
The data from the ONS does not support conclusions drawn by The Exposé, nor does it suggest that the vaccines caused an increase in the risk of death. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.