NSW Ambulances at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.
NSW Ambulances at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. Image by Bianca De Marchi/AAP IMAGES

NSW COVID data details lost on former paramedic

Nik Dirga August 17, 2022
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

There were no unvaccinated people among the 164 who died of COVID-19 in NSW in the last week of July.

OUR VERDICT

False. At least 13 unvaccinated individuals died from COVID-19 across the seven days.

A former paramedic claims that not one unvaccinated person died of COVID-19 in NSW in the last week of July.

John Larter, who lost a legal challenge over a vaccine mandate, makes the allegation in a Facebook video with fellow anti-COVID-19 vaccine activist Graham Hood.

Around two minutes into the video, Mr Larter claims: “The vaccinated are the ones who should be concerned. The stats out of (NSW Health Minister Brad) Hazzard’s office, his very own stats, indicate of the 164 people, who died in that period he was releasing the data for, 77 per cent of them had had three doses of his vaccine and 37 of them had had two doses, totalling 164 people who died. So on Hazzard’s own data not one individual who was not vaccinated died.”

However, Mr Larter has misread the data, as confirmed by NSW Health to AAP FactCheck. 

NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard
 Brad Hazzard (pictured) is called out by Mr Larter in the video. 

NSW Health releases weekly respiratory surveillance reports on COVID and influenza statistics and the report cited in the Facebook video is from Week 30, which ended July 30.

At the top of page 5, the report states: “Of the 164 people who were reported to have died with COVID-19, only 127 (77%) had received a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while another 37 were eligible for but had not received a third dose.”

However, that does not mean the 37 people mentioned had all been double-vaccinated. Instead, those 37 people were merely reported as eligible for a third dose.  A more detailed breakdown of COVID-19 deaths on Table 1 (page 4) of the report shows that the 37 figure refers to all deaths of individuals with two or less vaccine doses. The table reveals 13 out of 37 fatalities had received no dose at all while another five, whose vaccination status was unknown, were among the COVID deaths for Week 30 in NSW.

A NSW Health spokeswoman confirmed to AAP FactCheck via email the deaths include some who were not vaccinated, and that the video’s interpretation of the figures is incorrect.

Up until August 14, 96.9 per cent of NSW’s population (eligible and over 16) had received at least one vaccine dose leaving only 3.1 per cent of the population unvaccinated. In the July 30 report of the 164 deaths recorded, 7.9 per cent were among the unvaccinated.

In addition, claims based on raw statistics fail to account for age-adjusted figures. In particular, experts have previously pointed out to AAP FactCheck that vaccination rates are consistently higher in older people and that comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated groups will inevitably be comparing two groups with very different age profiles.

Of the July 30 report’s 164 COVID deaths, 151 were among those aged 70 and older, and 124 among those over 80 years. 

According to Department of Health data, nationally the vast majority of COVID deaths are among those 70 years and older. The median age for those who died from COVID as of July 2022 is 84.7, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. More than half of those who died had pre-existing chronic health conditions.

AAP FactCheck has debunked multiple claims about death rates among the vaccinated, including here and here as well as claims misinterpreting NSW Health COVID reports here.

The Verdict

The claim that not one unvaccinated person was among the deaths with COVID-19 in NSW during the last week of July is false. As confirmed by NSW Health, Mr Larter has misread the weekly report which states at least 13 unvaccinated people died.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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