According to the Office for National Statistics data, mortality rates are consistently lower for the vaccinated than the unvaccinated.
A substack post from Alex Berenson post falsely claims that according to data from the U.K. Office of National Statistics (ONS), vaccinated English adults under 60 are dying at twice the rate of unvaccinated people the same age. “I don’t know how to explain this other than vaccine-caused mortality,” Berenson suggests. However, Berenson's claims are unfounded. The ONS data do not support his conclusions, nor could that dataset be used to measure vaccine mortality.
Berenson claims to have "checked the underlying dataset" from the official ONS sheet and shares a graph representing death rates per 100,000 for the 10-59 age group in the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
The graph presents two datasets: the vaccinated between 10 and 59 and the unvaccinated between 10 and 59. According to the chart, death rates are two times higher in the vaccinated than the unvaccinated. Berenson blames the deaths on the vaccines, calling it a "vaccine-caused mortality."
For starters, keeping the selective rollout of vaccination in mind, the two datasets cannot be used to measure the vaccine's effectiveness. As older people are more at risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19, they were prioritized in the vaccination campaign. The ONS report that Berenson refers to explicitly states that for the 10-59 age group, the fully vaccinated people are on average older than the unvaccinated. In addition, older people have a higher COVID-19 mortality rate. Therefore, the ONS cautions that this increases "the mortality rates for the vaccinated population compared to the unvaccinated population."
To understand the impact of age on COVID-19 related mortality rates, Logically spoke to Dr. Charlotte Bermingham, a data scientist at the ONS.
"Age must be taken into account when comparing mortality rates by vaccination statuses." Dr. Bermingham told Logically. "The mortality rates they calculate for vaccinated people are increased compared to unvaccinated because vaccinated people are on average much older." But "When age is taken into account, the mortality rates are consistently lower for people who have had two vaccinations compared to unvaccinated, as shown by our published data."
The ONS uses an age-standardized mortality rate (ASMR) to reduce the impact of age and improve comparability in different groups.
"The age-standardized mortality rates for COVID-19 are consistently lower for people who are double vaccinated compared to those who are unvaccinated, as are those for all deaths," Dr. Bermingham said.
In addition, the ONS warns that the official figures are not a measure of vaccine effectiveness due to changing factors such as waning vaccine immunity, COVID-19 variants, and changing infection rates. "Calculating vaccine effectiveness is complex, particularly due to the selective rollout of the vaccination campaign and changing underlying COVID-19 infection rates," Dr. Bermingham explained.
The unvaccinated have a higher risk of catching and dying from COVID-19 compared to the vaccinated. ONS Data between January and September 2021 shows that the age-adjusted risk of deaths involving COVID-19 was 32 times greater in unvaccinated individuals than double-vaccinated people. The U.K. Statistics authority accounted for differences in population size and age groups by calculating ASMRs of COVID-19 deaths.
Berenson has misrepresented official data repeatedly throughout the pandemic to suggest that vaccines are dangerous.
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.