FactCheck Social Media

No, hospitalised COVID-19 patients in NSW aren’t all vaccinated

2021-07-27 16:56:09

The Statement

A Facebook post featuring a slip-up by an Australia health official at a press conference has been used to claim that COVID-19 vaccines are “literally useless” in preventing people from being hospitalised.

The post by an Australian page includes a link to a video clip of NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty providing COVID-19 statistics for July 25, including a breakdown of the number of new cases for the previous 24 hours.

In the clip, Dr McAnulty announces that 141 people are in hospital with COVID-19 and 43 of those in intensive care. He goes on to provide a breakdown of the patients’ ages before saying: “All but one are vaccinated. One person had just received one dose of vaccine” (video mark 40sec).

The post’s caption focuses on that line to claim: “The conclusion is very simple dear Watson. Out of 141 ‘cases’ all but one were injected. Therefore the fluid injected into the test subjects is literally useless”.

The video of Dr McAnulty and accompanying claims that all but one of the hospitalised cases were vaccinated also circulated overseas, including on US website the Gateway Pundit, a frequent source of misinformation.

The Facebook post
 A post takes Jeremy McAnulty’s comments as proof that COVID vaccination is “technically useless”. 

The Analysis

NSW Health director of health protection Jeremy McAnulty misspoke when initially detailing the vaccination status of people in hospital. Dr McAnulty later corrected the record during the same press conference, identifying that everyone in intensive care units (ICUs) in the state due to COVID-19 was unvaccinated – except for one individual who was partially vaccinated.

The post’s caption also incorrectly attributes vaccination status to 141 people in hospital when in fact Dr McAnulty was referring to the 43 individuals in ICU.

On July 25, while providing an update on COVID-19 cases in New South Wales, Dr McAnulty initially said: “All but one are vaccinated. One person had just received one dose of vaccine.” (video mark 8min 49sec)

He later corrected his initial statement in the press conference when asked by a journalist for clarification, saying: “I think I misspoke before.” (video mark 36min 9sec)

“So of the 43 people in intensive care units, 42 have not been vaccinated. One person had just one dose of vaccine – incomplete vaccine,” Dr McAnulty said.

A NSW Health spokesman told AAP FactCheck in an email that the post’s claim regarding the patients’ vaccination statuses was “incorrect”.

“All but one were unvaccinated. Dr McAnulty made this clear later in the same press conference,” the spokesman said.

The slip-up led to a number of social media users claiming that vaccines are “useless” in preventing hospitalisation.

Only 16.7 per cent of the Australian population aged 16 and over had received two COVID-19 vaccine doses as of 26 July, with the vaccination rate slightly lower in NSW.

Real-world studies have shown that the full two doses of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, the inoculations in use in Australia, are extremely effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation in vaccinated individuals.

According to a study published in The Lancet examining data from Israel, the Pfizer vaccine was 97 per cent effective against COVID-19-related hospitalisation among those who were fully vaccinated.

Another study published in The Lancet identified there were no cases of hospitalisation among nearly 12,000 clinical trial participants who received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (Table 5).

When it comes to the Delta strain, initial data from Public Health England suggested the AstraZeneca vaccine was 92 per cent effective against hospitalisation in fully vaccinated individuals while Pfizer vaccines were 96 per cent effective.

AAP FactCheck has previously debunked false claims around the efficacy rates of COVID-19 vaccines.

NSW Health Health Protection Director Dr Jeremy McAnulty
NSW Health official Jeremy McAnulty speaking during a COVID-19 update on July 25. 

The Verdict

Dr McAnulty misspoke when he initially said all but one of the 43 individuals in ICUs in NSW due to COVID-19 were fully vaccinated. He corrected his mistake later in the same press conference, saying all of the patients were unvaccinated except for one who was partially vaccinated.

The post also incorrectly attributes the vaccination figures provided by Dr McAnulty to all 141 hospitalised individuals, however Dr McAnulty was talking about the vaccination status of the 43 people in ICUs.

False – Content that has no basis in fact.

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