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Inaccurate data spreads about COVID hospitalizations in the UK

July 20, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Sixty percent of people being admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 in England have had two doses of coronavirus vaccine.

AP ASSESSMENT: False. The opposite is true. Sixty percent of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.K. are unvaccinated. Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific advisor for the U.K., gave the wrong statistic at a press conference Monday but released a correction.

THE FACTS: Vallance spoke at a press conference Monday, where he said that 60% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are among fully vaccinated individuals.

Soon after, Vallance corrected himself saying in a statement on Twitter that the statistic he had shared was inaccurate.

“Correcting a statistic I gave at the press conference today, 19 July,” Vallance said in his post. “About 60% of hospitalisations from covid are not from double vaccinated people, rather 60% of hospitalisations from covid are currently from unvaccinated people.”

But social media users quickly ran with the inaccurate information without acknowledging the correction. An Instagram post with 21,000 likes shows an screenshot of a tweet from media site Disclose.tv which says, “JUST IN- 60% of people being admitted to the hospital with #COVID19 in England have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the government’s chief scientific adviser.” The user who posted the image to Instagram captioned it, “This is playing out just as many predicted…”

Emma Griffiths, head of communications at the U.K. Government Office for Science, also affirmed the corrected statistic in an email to The Associated Press. “Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance yesterday clarified, 60% of hospitalisations from COVID-19 are currently from unvaccinated people,” Griffiths said.

Neither the Government Office for Science nor Public Health England immediately responded to inquiries about what caused the initial reporting error.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536