Fact Check-Graph comparing Scottish COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths by vaccination status lacks key information

A chart circulating on social media takes a snapshot of COVID-19 statistics in Scotland, broken down by vaccination status. The chart shows a higher total number of deaths and hospitalisations in the vaccinated group, seemingly casting doubt over the value of a vaccine, but it fails to record that the total population of vaccinated individuals in Scotland is much higher than the population of unvaccinated individuals.

Examples can be seen here , here and here .

The graph is described as showing the number of hospital admissions and deaths among those who have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as the number of new cases reported that week. The date of the figures is not specified.

The figures are plotted according to the individual’s vaccination status - unvaccinated, one dose or two doses.

Crediting the data to Public Health Scotland (PHS), it shows that there were more hospitalisations and deaths from fully vaccinated people than unvaccinated people in the week represented.

Reuters found that the cases and hospital admission figures were drawn from this PHS COVID-19 Statistical Report (here) (see page 34 and 40), and are for the week of Aug. 21-27, 2021.

Meanwhile, deaths data appears to be for the week of Aug. 12-19, 2021.

The number of deaths represented in the graph can be calculated by taking the total number of coronavirus deaths noted in a PHS COVID-19 Statistical Report published on 25 Aug. 2021 (here) (see page 39) from the total number of deaths shown in a PHS COVID-19 Statistical Report published on 1 Sept. 2021 (here) (see page 43). The deaths figures in the earlier report counted up to Aug. 12, 2021, while the report one week later recorded up to Aug. 19, 2021.

But while the data is accurate, it has been taken out of context.

PHS told Reuters that the data actually shows that vaccinated individuals are far less likely to die from COVID-19 infection than unvaccinated individuals, once you take into account the underlying population sizes and differences in the age structure of individuals who are vaccinated compared to unvaccinated.

“A higher overall number of COVID-19 related deaths among people who are vaccinated compared to those who are unvaccinated can be seen in current weekly reporting due to the fact that over 90% of individuals in Scotland are fully vaccinated against COVID-19”, it said in an email. “For those aged 50 and over, this is at almost 100%.”

For the dates referenced in the graph (here), it shows that there were 261 double vaccinated acute hospital admissions, out of 3.4 million people who had received both doses.

On the other hand, there were 153 admissions out of 1 million unvaccinated people.

This means that 8 out of every 100,000 fully vaccinated individuals were hospitalised, compared to 15 out of every 100,000 unvaccinated individuals, the PHS report says.

Similarily, it notes that there were 1,500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 unvaccinated individuals compared to 420 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 individuals vaccinated with two doses.

It also states that from 29 Dec. 2020 to 19 Aug. 2021, 85.1% of COVID-19 deaths were in unvaccinated individuals, while 7.6% had received one dose and 7.3% had received two doses.


Missing context. While the data is accurate, it compares different weeks and does not account for the differences in population size and demographics of the vaccinated versus unvaccinated groups.

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