UK Covid deaths: Alex Berenson v Politifact

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I’ve been asked about the veracity of a “false” rating given by Politifact to Alex Berenson’s claim, in October 2021, that over 70 percent of UK Covid deaths are “now” among the vaccinated. 

The Public Health England report cited by Berenson provides England-only Covid case and death figures through September 19, 2021. Berenson cited Table 4, which appears on page 15. Table 4a clearly shows “Total” “Covid-19 deaths” of 3,158, reported between weeks 34 and 37 of 2021. Table 4 doesn’t sum the Total column for you, so you have to do it yourself. Of the 3,158 total, 730 (23%) are in the “Not vaccinated” column. So only 23% of what they call “Covid-19 deaths,” in England alone, were entirely unvaccinated. Similarly, 2,395 (~76%) had received at least one shot, 2,284 (72%) had two shots, while 33 (1%) could not be classified. Note that England’s population is estimated at about 56 million, with the UK overall at 67 million. So England accounts for 56/67 ~ 84% of the UK.

To the extent that England is representative of the UK as a whole, Berenson’s claim is substantially true even though his source (Table 4) technically accounts for “only” England. Thus, Politifact’s claim that Berenson’s statement is “false” is itself a misrepresentation. The better questions are WHY is Berenson right, and what’s wrong with the data? While claiming that Berenson’s report is false, Politifact tries to explain why it is true, pointing primarily to the higher vaccination rates among the elderly who are always at higher risk of mortality than younger cohorts.

However, the fact is that none of this data is reliable. Fenton and Neil explain in detail why no report based on reported UK “Covid” cases or deaths should be taken seriously. The same applies to U.S. Covid “case” data. Better to use ALL-CAUSE DEATHS data. Yet even the all-cause-deaths data in England are too deficient to justify firm conclusions, as Fenton, Neil & McLachlan outline in their paper, Discrepancies and inconsistencies in UK Government datasets compromise accuracy of mortality rate comparisons between vaccinated and unvaccinated. The bottom line is that, in the U.K., it is currently impossible to accurately measure the relative safety and effectiveness of Covid vaccines.