False: More than 70 percent of the people who are dying from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom are fully vaccinated.

By: Devika Kandelwal
November 3 2021

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
False: More than 70 percent of the people who are dying from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom are fully vaccinated.


The Verdict False

Alex Berenson cherry-picks data to claim that vaccines do not work. His claim lacks context and is false.

Claim ID 828e8d66

Alex Berenson cherry-picks data to claim that vaccines do not work. His claim lacks context and is false. A verified page belonging to John Burnett, a U.S. political commentator, and author, shared a clip from the Joe Rogan show on October 26. The video shows Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter, saying, "In the U.K., 70 plus percent of the people who die now from COVID are fully vaccinated." This clip has widely spread across Facebook and other social platforms, adding to vaccine hesitancy. We decided to fact check this claim and found it to be both false, as it conflates England and the U.K., and misleading, as it omits key context and misrepresents data. Firstly, the data cited by Berenson applies to England and not to the whole of the U.K. Secondly, while it is true that a high percentage of COVID-19 deaths occurred among fully vaccinated people in England, but that is because a high percentage of the population is fully vaccinated, including older people. Moreover, the data cited by Berenson show that unvaccinated people in England are far more likely than vaccinated people to die from COVID-19. The 70 percent figure quoted by Berenson was taken from a report published by Public Health England, which is now called the U.K. Health Security Agency, in September 2021. The document contains information on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in England between August 23 and September 19, 2021. Totaling the figures in the table from the document shows that 2,284 of the 3,158 deaths during the period, or 72 percent, occurred among fully vaccinated people. However, the number of COVID-19 deaths, when adjusted proportionally to show the rate per 100,000 people, is higher in the unvaccinated population than the vaccinated population. For instance, according to PolitiFact, "for people age 80 and over, the rate among unvaccinated people was 156 deaths per 100,000 people." This figure is more than three times higher than the 49.5 for the vaccinated. PolitiFact further noted that "The difference was highest among people aged 50 to 59. In that group, the rate was 12.4 deaths per 100,000 people among the unvaccinated, compared with 1.4 deaths among the vaccinated, or more than eight times higher. The report also says estimates suggest that vaccinations prevented 123,000 deaths as of September 17." The report makes clear that using data in this way cannot be used to measure vaccine efficacy. It reads: "The vaccination status of cases, inpatients and deaths is not the most appropriate method to assess vaccine effectiveness and there is a high risk of misinterpretation. Vaccine effectiveness has been formally estimated from a number of different sources and is described earlier in this report." According to the report, "In the context of very high vaccine coverage in the population, even with a highly effective vaccine, it is expected that a large proportion of cases, hospitalizations and deaths would occur in vaccinated individuals, simply because a larger proportion of the population are vaccinated than unvaccinated, and no vaccine is 100 percent effective. This is especially true because vaccination has been prioritized in individuals who are more susceptible or more at risk of severe disease." Berenson cherry-picks data in the clip to claim that COVID-19 vaccines do not work. However, that is not true as the data has been taken out of context, and his claim is 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.

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before