Junior health worker at the Ivane Bokeria Tbilisi Referral Hospital, nurse Tornike Noniashvili, promoted manipulative and false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines through social networks (see link 1 and link 2).

Claim: Vaccination does not protect us from infection, let alone mortality… Vaccination does not work.

Verdict: FAKE NEWS

The SARS-COV-2 virus has been mutating over time and new variants are starting to emerge. The first mutated variant was the British variant (Alpha variant). Currently, the Delta variant (the so-called Indian variant) is dominant across the world. COVID-19 vaccines have lower efficacy vis-à-vis the new variants, although their protection level from severe illnesses and fatality is still high which is proven by relevant studies.

According to the most recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the effectiveness was approximately 88% with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and approximately 67% with two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

If we take a look at Israel’s example, confirmed cases are on the rise, although the mortality rate is basically unchanged owing to a strong vaccine roll-out. There are one or two cases of death per day on average in Israel.

Bidzina Kulumbegov, an allergist-immunologist, in his interview with FactCheck, stated: “All the authorised vaccines (including Sinopharm and SinoVac) protect from severe cases and death vis-à-vis all variants. If we take a look at the trend among vaccinated people, where there are growing infection numbers with new variants, the level of protection from hospitalisation and mortality is around 80%-90%.”

The Ivane Bokeria Tbilisi Referral Hospital responded to the video address of its junior health worker and strictly distanced itself from the anti-vaxxer statement made on behalf of the hospital: “This statement is unprofessional, since the world’s leading organisations acknowledge vaccination as only instrument to fight the pandemic and many important studies have been conducted on this issue. The Ivane Bokeria Tbilisi Referral Hospital is concerned about the statement which is against vaccination in this difficult global epidemiological situation and which was made on behalf of the clinic but autonomously from the hospital’s administration … The hospital’s administration condemns and distances itself from this type of the statement and deems it unacceptable to have any cooperation with an individual whose statement aims to disparage medical colleagues in a very difficult situation and, at the same time, contains danger to human health.”

Claim: As of 25 June 2021, 43% of fully vaccinated people died in the UK.

Verdict: FAKE NEWS

This manipulative claim is based on a 25 June report of Public Health England (PHE); more precisely, it uses the report’s figures on the Delta variant. The claim that 43% of those people fully vaccinated died is absurd. According to the report, of those infected with the COVID-19 Delta variant from 1 February 2021 to 21 June 2021, there were 7,235 fully vaccinated individuals and only 0.7% (50 people) of them died.

According to the PHE’s report, a total of 117 patients infected with the Delta variant died between 1 February and 21 June. Of these 117, 50 individuals (nearly 44%) were fully vaccinated. Of note is that all of them were from the 50+ age group which has an already high risk of COVID-19 mortality. The PHE’s report clearly shows the effectiveness of vaccination for curbing the risk of mortality. There were 3,546 fully vaccinated individuals in the 50+ age category and only 1.4% of them died. In the same category, there were 976 non-vaccinated individuals and 3.9% of them (38 individuals) died. Therefore, it is a fact that the Delta variant mortality figure is much higher among unvaccinated people as compared to those fully vaccinated (see Fullfact.org’s article on the same topic). Of further note is that the reason why the cases of the Delta variant were higher among those vaccinated in the 50+ age category as compared to those who were non-vaccinated in the same age group is that elderly individuals were given priority during the immunisation process and the share of those non-vaccinated in this category is very low. As of the latest data of June 2021, 90% of the UK’s elderly (people sixty years of age and above) are fully vaccinated.

The PHE’s report highlights that two doses of the vaccine are 96% effective against hospitalisation in the case of the Delta variant.

Tornike Noniashvili also brings CDC figures on hospitalisation and mortality among vaccinated people. However, this does not mean that vaccine does not work. COVID-19 vaccination significantly reduces both hospitalisation and mortality risks, although, obviously, the risks are never reduced to zero.


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