Back to Africa Check

UK deaths after vaccine far lower than Covid deaths – and Covid deaths not caused by pre-existing conditions

“Official Data shows more people have died because of the Covid Vaccines in 6 months than people who have died of Covid-19 in 15 months,” reads the headline of an article published on the Daily Expose, a UK-based website, in June 2021.

Its first paragraph adds: “We can officially confirm that the number of people to have died due to the Covid vaccines has surpassed the number of people who have died of Covid-19.”

The article was posted on a South Africa-based public Facebook group page with more than 16,000 followers. It has been widely shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit, according to data from CrowdTangle, Facebook’s insights tool.

The article compares the number of people who reportedly died within 28 days of getting a Covid-19 vaccine in Scotland with the number of people who reportedly died from Covid-19 in England.

The United Kingdom is made up of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The article uses statistics published by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), and argues against government restrictions to fight the pandemic.

“Thankfully the NHS data informs us that just 3,589 people have died of Covid-19 within 28 days of a positive test result in England hospitals between March 2020 and June 2nd 2021. A number which does not justify 15 months of dictatorial tyranny and medical fascism.”

The Daily Expose describes itself as an alternative to the “lying mainstream media” but appears mostly to publish debunked misinformation about the Covid pandemic. Media Bias Fact Check rates it “a Tin-Foil Hat Conspiracy and Quackery level Pseudoscience website”. 

Have more people in the UK died from the Covid-19 vaccine than from the disease itself? We checked.


What the data shows

According to a Public Health Scotland report, 3,752  people who had received the Covid-19 vaccine in Scotland died between 8 December 2020 and 28 May 2021.

In the National Records of Scotland, 10,130 deaths in Scotland with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate were recorded by 6 June 2021. By 22 August, this had risen to 10,505 deaths.

And importantly, a person dying after getting a vaccine does not mean they died from complications related to the vaccine. Correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation

The Public Health Scotland report says that the “the observed number of deaths is significantly lower than expected compared with mortality rates for the same time period in previous years”. In other words, fewer people died within 28 days of getting a Covid vaccine than would have been expected in the same population over the same period of time.

Another report, by the UK government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, used data from 9 December 2020 to 16 June 2021. It shows that nearly 128,000 people across the UK died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19.

NHS data shows that the total number of Covid-19 deaths in England as of 2 June 2021 was 87,213. Of these, 83,624 patients had a pre-existing condition and 3,589 did not. By 27 August, the total number of Covid deaths was 96,200.

So it is not true that more people in the UK have died after getting a Covid-19 vaccine than from the disease itself. 

It’s untrue when you compare Scottish figures directly. It’s also untrue when the number of Scots who died after receiving the vaccine is compared to the number of people in England or across the UK who died from Covid-19. 

Pre-existing conditions increase risk of Covid-19 death

The Daily Expose also claims that the 83,624 English patients with pre-existing conditions died from those conditions, not from Covid-19. It then subtracts this number from total Covid deaths to claim that only 3,589 people died from the disease within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test in England.

But this is incorrect. Data on the Covid deaths of people with pre-existing conditions is published because these people are more vulnerable to the disease.

The NHS says certain medical conditions make people more likely to suffer serious illness from Covid-19. The health service calls these people “clinically extremely vulnerable”.

The US Centers for Disease Control lists health conditions that put Covid patients at risk of more serious symptoms of the disease. The conditions include cancer, kidney disease, respiratory disease, heart conditions, weakened immune systems, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell anaemia, being a smoker, being a transplant recipient, having had a stroke, and substance abuse. 

The CDC says that “adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19”.

‘They shouldn’t have died now’

Dr Joshua Kimani is an epidemiologist and senior researcher at the Sub-Saharan African Network For TB/HIV Research Excellence at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. 

He told Africa Check that Covid-positive patients with pre-existing conditions who die from the disease may have died later, even without Covid. But, importantly, “they shouldn’t have died now”.

“They shouldn’t have died, even if they had comorbidities, but they died with Covid. If there was no Covid they would have lived longer.” Comorbidities are pre-existing medical conditions.

The Daily Expose was wrong to claim that Covid patients with pre-existing conditions died from those conditions, and not Covid. Health authorities and an expert say pre-existing conditions put Covid-19 patients at more risk of severe illness and death from the disease.

Other fact-checking organisations including Reuters and Full Fact have also found this claim to be unsupported.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.