Fact check: are Sadiq Khan’s vaccination claims right?

Fact check: are Sadiq Khan's vaccination claims right?
Leon Neal/Getty Images
Text settings

Sadiq Khan is always on the lookout for any way in to national debate, and this week he has been starting – quite rightly – to focus on the benefits of vaccination. But the key to doing this effectively is not to say stuff that’s not true. Here, he struggles.

After the No. 10 press conference, he tweeted out one of Chris Whitty's graphs claiming that 'at all ages – the vast, vast majority of people hospitalised with Covid have not yet been vaccinated.' But is this actually true? In a word: no.

Vaccinations reduce your chances of hospitalisation by 88 per cent: they work. But the idea – popular on the continent – that this is a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ or that it’s mainly the unjabbed clogging up the hospitals is hard to reconcile with the data.

Of the 8,190 admitted over the four weeks to 18 December, 54 per cent were vaccinated and 45 per cent unvaccinated. (The vaccination status of the remaining 1 per cent is unknown). Khan was right that you are more likely to be proportionately admitted if you're unvaccinated but this is not the same as saying 'the vast, vast majority of people' in hospital are unjabbed. Here are the figures for the period Whitty was talking about.

This picture changes quite a lot if you look at intensive care – where 61 per cent of those admitted for Covid in December were unjabbed.

Now, this is way disproportionate to the unjabbed: they make up 10 per cent of the over-12s, but 61 per cent of ICU. This figure is a pretty convincing argument to get jabbed. But the ICU units are not exactly overwhelmed right now: in fact, usage is fast heading down back towards what it is in a normal winter. Look at London, the Omicron epicentre.

Khan was tweeting out Chris Whitty’s chart - which shows that proportionately you are more likely to be hospitalised if you’re unjabbed. Quite true. But this is not the same as the majority in hospital are unvaccinated. So saying otherwise simply offers ammunition to the conspiracy theorists. Mr S would suggest that Sadiq Khan does his research a bit more carefully next time. The Spectator data hub is a good place to start.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

Topics in this articlePoliticssadiq khanchris whitty