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Fact Check-Gibraltar did not introduce a lockdown after vaccinating most of its population

Gibraltar did not introduce a 14-day stay-at-home order after widespread vaccine rollouts despite the claims made in a video shared online.

A clip shared on Facebook on Sept. 12, 2021, shows a series of news and blog headlines, and says that cases rose 2,500% in Gibraltar after it had inoculated most of its population, and that this resulted in a 14-day lockdown throughout the British overseas territory ( here ).

The clip begins by showing headlines of legitimate news articles, such as a headline of a Washington Post article on March 18, 2021, that read: “Tiny Gibraltar has vaccinated its entire adult population, British health official says” ( here ).

It then follows with a CNN headline published on April 1, 2021, which reads: “Gibraltar has vaccinated most of its adults. This is what it's like now” ( here ).

The clip then shows an image of Gibraltar’s vaccination rates as of January 23, 2021.

The video then shows text that claims that Gibraltar initiated a 14-day nationwide stay-at-home order amid a “surge of COVID-19 cases”. A screenshot of a tweet follows, saying that COVID-19 cases jumped by 2,500% between June 1 and July 30 following a 99% vaccine uptake by the territory’s population ( here ).

Gibraltar did not initiate a nationwide 14-day stay-at-home order following vaccine rollouts, however. A 14-day stay-at-home order was announced in January 2021, not in the summer months as suggested in the video ( here ).

Restrictions slowly started to ease from Feb. 1, as announced by Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, on Jan. 29 ( here ).

Cases did indeed rise from June 2021 as the Delta variant pushed up cases across Europe ( here ).

Gibraltar had its first detected case of the Delta variant on June 4 ( here ).

The government did announce a tightening of rules on July 16 in response to the Delta variant, including the need for vaccinated close contacts of anyone testing positive for the virus to self-isolate ( here ).

On June 1, Gibraltar recorded 1 new case of COVID-19 while on July 30, 25 cases were reported which does indeed equate to a 2,500% increase ( here ), ( here ).

Although the number of cases did rise by the stated percentage during the given period, the actual number of cases does not constitute clear evidence that the vaccine is ineffective against symptomatic disease.

“This is not proof that vaccines don’t work,” immunologist Dr Matilde Cañelles López, Senior Research Scientist at the Institute of Philosophy, Centre for Human and Social Sciences (CCHS), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) told Reuters via email.

“It is clear now that current COVID vaccines prevent to a high degree severe illness, but not virus transmission,” she said.

Contrary to previous waves, there have been “very few hospitalizations”, she added.

Since June 1, three people have died in Gibraltar as a result of COVID-19, two of whom were unvaccinated. The vaccinated individual had underlying health conditions and was aged between 80 and 85 ( here ), ( here ), and ( here ).

The number of deaths recorded over June, July and August due to COVID-19 (three) was significantly less than the numbers seen in the January and February (54) wave in Gibraltar, which has a population of just over 34,000 ( here ), ( here ). “Therefore, I would say that what is happening in Gibraltar is proof that vaccines work and prevent severe illness and death,” Cañelles López said.

Reuters previously addressed the claim that rising cases in June in Iceland were evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are a “failure” ( here ).

Gibraltar’s vaccination rates and up-to-date COVID-19 figures are viewable ( here ).

VERDICT

Missing context. A 14-day stay-at-home order was not put into place in Gibraltar following widespread vaccine rollouts. The order was announced in January and not in June, when cases increased from a very low base as the Delta variant reached Europe.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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