A health worker with the bodies of COVID-19 victims. (file image)
COVID-19 kills more vaccinated people because they now make up the vast majority of the population.

Anti-vaxxer’s view on COVID deaths lacks proportion

William Summers October 31, 2022

Vaccinated people are more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated.


False. Data from Australia, the US and the UK shows unvaccinated people are over-represented in COVID-19 death statistics.

An Australian anti-vaccine activist claims people vaccinated against COVID-19 are more likely to die from the virus than the unjabbed.

The claim is false. While COVID-19 kills more vaccinated than unvaccinated Australians, unjabbed people now represent a small proportion of the population.

However, unvaccinated Australians are disproportionately represented in COVID-19 death statistics. Figures from the US and UK also show unvaccinated people are at higher risk of COVID-related death.

The claim was made by Meryl Dorey from the vaccine-sceptic campaign group Australian Vaccination risks Network (AVN).

“There is no science behind vaccinations… people who get the jab are more likely to get COVID, they are more likely to die from COVID than those who are unjabbed. The hospitals are not filled with people who have not taken the COVID jab. They are filled with people who are jabbed and sick and dying,” Ms Dorey says (video mark 32min 5sec) in a video discussion on a US anti-vaccination group’s website on October 16. A link to the video was shared to AVN’s Facebook page (screenshot here).

A screenshot of the video.
 Meryl Dorey claims vaccinated people are more likely to die from COVID-19. 

AAP FactCheck and other organisations have debunked similar claims (see here, here, here and here). The checks show anti-vaccine activists repeatedly ignore the fact unvaccinated people are proportionally dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than vaccinated people.

Chris Baker, a biostatistics researcher at the University of Melbourne, told AAP FactCheck any fair comparison of COVID-19 deaths needed to consider the mortality rate for each group, rather than just the raw numbers.

“It is important to consider the rates because most adults in the EU and USA have been vaccinated, meaning that there can be more vaccinated deaths … simply because there are so many vaccinated people,” Dr Baker said in an email.

Dr Baker said a proper comparison of COVID-19 death rates should also be adjusted to account for the different age groups within the data, given older groups are more likely to be vaccinated and also more likely to suffer severe outcomes after catching the virus.

Data from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia shows unvaccinated people are more at risk from COVID-19.

In the US, the share of COVID-19 deaths among vaccinated people has risen since 2021, but unvaccinated people are still disproportionately more likely to die.

A general view of a cemetery (file image)
 US data shows unvaccinated people are more likely to die as a result of the virus. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes COVID-19 data from 28 jurisdictions covering 72 per cent of America’s population.

In the final week of August 2022 (week 35), the most recent data available at the time of writing, the CDC recorded 398 unvaccinated COVID-19 deaths compared to 569 deaths of people who had received at least a primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine.

On the face of it, those raw numbers may suggest vaccination did not provide much protection against COVID-related death. However, only 11.6 per cent of Americans aged 12 years or older remained unvaccinated at the time (week 35), suggesting unjabbed people were vastly over-represented in the CDC figures.

The CDC’s calculations for that week (included in the COVID-19 dataset) show unvaccinated people were 2.75 times more likely than vaccinated people to have died as a result of the virus.

When adjusted for age, the CDC dataset reported unvaccinated people were more than seven times as likely to have died with COVID-19 that week than people who received a primary series of vaccines and a booster jab.

Age-adjusted data from England similarly shows unvaccinated people dying with COVID-19 at higher rates than vaccinated people, as AAP FactCheck explained in this check in August 2022.

In Australia, official data proves unvaccinated people are also more likely to die with the virus than those who have been jabbed.

In Victoria, for example, unvaccinated people accounted for 40 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in the three months to October 21, 2022 – despite representing about 2.3 per cent of the state’s adult population.

In NSW, where at the time of writing 3.1 per cent of adults remained unjabbed, unvaccinated people accounted for 21 of the 199 (10.6 per cent)  COVID deaths between September 18 and October 15, 2022, where the person’s vaccine status was known.

This was the most recent four-week period for which data was available (see page 4 here, here, here and here).

A sign at the coronavirus vaccination centre (file image)
 Data shows COVID-19 vaccinations still provide good protection against sickness and death. 

Dr Baker told AAP FactCheck up-to-date vaccination still provides good protection against hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.

“In addition, vaccination … reduces the probability of acquiring and transmitting COVID-19, although protection against acquisition and transmission decays faster than the protection against hospitalisation and death,” he said.

In July 2022, researchers from Imperial College London’s MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis published a mathematical study that found COVID-19 vaccines prevented almost 20 million global deaths up to the end of 2021.

Ms Dorey and AVN are prolific spreaders of vaccine misinformation and AAP FactCheck has previously debunked other claims from them (here, here and here).

The Verdict

The claim vaccinated people are more likely to die from COVID-19 is false. An expert told AAP FactCheck comparisons between the death rates of vaccinated and unvaccinated people should take into account the size of each respective population and age differences between the two groups.

Data from Australia, the US and the UK shows unvaccinated people remain at higher risk of COVID-19 death.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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