Weekly fact-checking:COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalization and death

Various articles and social media posts are falsely claiming that „in Romania, hospitals are mostly full of people who have been vaccinated against Covid”/”the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is the wave of those who are vaccinated” or that the „COVID deaths are dominated by those who are vaccinated”. These interpretations are misleading in several respects. In Romania, according to the public health authorities report, only 1.3% of vaccinated people got infected with Covid-19, since December 2020, after the roll-out of the vaccination campaign. At the same time, in September 2021, given the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, 75% of COVID-19 cases were among the unvaccinated. Vaccines against COVID-19 have been shown to be effective against the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, including in case of Delta infection.

Certain articles and social media posts claimed that „in Romania, more vaccinated people were severely affected by COVID-19, including the Delta variant, than unvaccinated people.” Moreover, these statements falsely suggest that „there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines reduce the severity of the illness and the risk of hospitalization „, while “hospitals are mostly full of people who have been vaccinated against Covid „, „the fourth wave seems to be dominated by those who are vaccinated” and “death rate from COVID is higher for vaccinated than unvaccinated”. These statements lack details, statistics, context or concrete evidence that could support these interpretations.

Similar misleading claims have gained popularity on social media in USA, United Kingdom and Israel. In this case, some websites and social media users falsely claimed even regions with a high vaccination rate have also high hospitalization and deaths rates, without mentioning that he majority of the COVID-19 related cases, hospitalizations and deaths occurred with people who were not vaccinated. Several websites in Romania have cited these misinterpretations as evidence that vaccines are not effective, contrary to the available data showing the opposite.

Adriana Pistol, head of the National Center for the Monitoring and Control of Communicable Diseases in Romania, stated that since the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Romania, only 1.3% of vaccinated people have got infected with COVID-19. Also, in September 2021, 75% of newly confirmed cases and 90% of deaths were among unvaccinated. Given that the highly infectious variant Delta emerged, data so far suggest that vaccines are effective against infections, including the Delta variant.

In Romania, a preliminary study of the COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness suggests at least 90efficacy in preventing infection. The study was carried out from February till the end of May, during the third wave of the pandemic and showed that unvaccinated individuals face a 10 times higher risk of infection, a 12 times higher risk of hospitalization and a 14 times higher risk of death from COVID-19.

Findings in Romania are supported by the CDC’s latest data that examined the incidence of COVID-19 across 13 jurisdictions in the United States. The analysis reveals that those who were unvaccinated were about four and a half times more likely to get COVID-19, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the disease, given the emergence of the predominant Delta variant. In addition, recent findings, published in The Lancet, revealed that COVID-19 vaccines showed a steady effectiveness of 87% after 1 month and 88% after 5 months against the risk of hospitalization, including in case of infection with the Delta variant.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to various statements and misleading claims that lack supporting scientific evidence. Here are a few simple tips to help you better spot and avoid the proliferation of such content:

  • verify if claims are supported by factual evidence and check if data was correctly interpreted (in some cases, data can be misinterpreted by accident or with intention to promote specific agendas/conclusions);
  • check the source (search for background information and signs that indicate that the source is a legitimate news organization/publication); rely on verified information and official sources of medical information;
  • check your biases and don’t trust anarticle/social media post/video just because it suits your previously existing beliefs; verify if quoted experts/sources are reliable by searching for them online (search if other news outlets are reporting the content, including mainstream and credible or nonpartisan sources).

Our sources:

cnscbt.ro – Situație persoane confirmate cu infecție SARS-CoV-2 după vaccinare, la 1 octombrie 2021

cnscbt.ro – Informare privind cazurile de COVID-19 confirmate cu variante ale SARS-CoV-2 care determină îngrijorare (VOC)

vaccinare-covid.gov.ro – Analiza preliminară a eficienței vaccinării împotriva COVID-19 în România

vaccinare-covid.gov.ro – Rata mortalității, de 11 ori mai mare la persoanele nevaccinate față de cele vaccinate cu schemă completă

bmj.com – Covid-19: Unvaccinated face 11 times risk of death from delta variant, CDC data show

thelancet.com – Effectiveness of mRNA BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine up to 6 months in a large integrated health system in the USA: a retrospective cohort study

agerpres.ro – Adriana Pistol: Doar 1,3% dintre vaccinaţi s-au infectat cu Covid-19

healthfeedback.org –The majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.K. are among unvaccinated people

buisinessinsider.com – Getting to herd immunity will require 90% of people to be vaccinated against COVID-19, experts say

apnews.com – Virus surge hits New England despite high vaccination rates

apnews.com – Posts mislead on Israel vaccine data

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