PolitiFact fact-checks post showing accurate information about Delta variant

PolitiFact labeled as “mostly false” an Instagram post stating the Delta variant of Covid-19 has shown to be 19 times less deadly than the original variant.

Summary

  • An Instagram post states the Delta variant “is approximately 19 times less deadly.”
  • PolitiFact admits “a government report from England indicates that the fatality rate for the delta variant there is 0.1%, compared with 1.9% for the original coronavirus. The difference is a factor of 19.” Meaning the original coronavirus variant has shown to be 19 times deadlier than the Delta variant.
  • PolitiFact then says, “But the agency cautions that it is too soon to make comparisons of the risk of death posed by variants and says the post misinterprets the data.”
  • Regardless of what the agency says, the preliminary numbers show the original Instagram post is accurate, and PolitiFact offers no other analysis of infection fatality rates to demonstrate otherwise.
  • Citing “experts” PolitiFact then states “lower case fatality rates would be expected, simply because so many people have been vaccinated in recent months” suggesting vaccines are to credit for the reduction in Delta-variant fatalities.
  • Elsewhere, PolitiFact notes of the 117 Delta variant deaths recorded in England, 44 where among those who were not vaccinated (37.6 percent of overall Delta-variant fatalities). That preliminary evidence suggests no significant advantage in Delta variant survivability among vaccinated or unvaccinated people.
  • Following PolitiFact’s deceptive fact-check, the original Instagram post is no longer available.

PolitiFact labeled an Instagram post “mostly false” for saying the Delta variant has been 19 times less fatal than the original variant of Covid-19. PolitiFact acknowledges an actual contemporenous medical study shows this number to be accurate, but relies on the argument of a government spokesperson, Public Health England spokesperson James McCreadie, to assert the post “is factually incorrect and manipulates our data.”

PolitiFact added that as of June 21, “117 people in England had died with the delta variant, including 44 who were unvaccinated” before asserting “Experts pointed out that lower case fatality rates would be expected, simply because so many people have been vaccinated in recent months.” The fact that only 37 percent of Delta variant fatalities in the analysis were among unvaccinated persons (meaning about 63 percent were vaccinated) suggests vaccination status is not a significant factor in Delta variant survivability.

PolitiFact cited McCreadie again as saying, “Many factors contribute to death, including age, comorbidities and deprivation.” Those same comorbidity factors were as relevant for the original COVID-19 variant as the Delta variant.

PolitiFact concludes, writing, “The agency cautions that it is too soon to make comparisons of the risk of death posed by variants and says the post misinterprets the data.” That is PolitiFact’s editorial choice, to treat the agency’s assessment as definitively true. Fact-checkers should not simply rely on the opinion of one side in an argument to decide with definitive certainty that a claim is true or false. Reasonable observers can reach their own conclusion as to whether enough data exists to compare fatality rates among the original and Delta COVID-19, especially considering its significance in swaying public health assessments of how to respond.

PolitiFact proceeded to label the Instagram post “mostly false” and it no longer can be seen.

 

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