FOI Reference: FOI/2021/2758

You asked

Could you please provide the data of deaths within 28 days after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Could this be broken down to first or second dose, cause of death on death certificate and after which brand of vaccine had been administered?

We said

​Thank you for your request.

Please note, our COVID-19 mortality data and Public Health England (PHE)'s data are produced in different ways and have different purposes:

  • The daily COVID deaths counts reported on the government's COVID-19 dashboard (produced by PHE) shows deaths within 28 days of a first positive laboratory-confirmed test.

More information can be found in a  blog by Professor John Newton of Public Health England about the complexities of counting COVID-19 deaths and the different methods used.

We are currently working on analysis on all aspects of the relationship between COVID-19 vaccination and mortality, including:

  • Information regarding deaths after 28 days of vaccination from any cause.

  • Information regarding deaths involving or due to COVID-19 after receiving COVID-19 vaccination.

This requires complex analysis linking vaccination records to death registrations. The provisional release date for these publications is August 2021. Once publication dates are finalised, they will be announced on our Release Calendar.

As such, the information request regarding deaths within 28 days of the COVID-19 vaccination is considered exempt under Section 22(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, whereby information is exempt from release if there is a view to publish the information in the future. Furthermore, as a central government department and producer of official statistics, we need to have the freedom to be able to determine our own publication timetables. This is to allow us to deal with the necessary preparation, administration and context of publications. It would be unreasonable to consider disclosure when to do so would undermine our functions.

This exemption is subject to a public interest test. We recognise the desirability of information being freely available and this is considered by ONS when publication schedules are set in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics. The need for timely data must be balanced against the practicalities of applying statistical skill and judgement to produce the high quality, assured data needed to inform decision-making. If this balance is incorrectly applied, then we run the risk of decisions being based on inaccurate data which is arguably not in the public interest. This will have an impact on public trust in official statistics in a time when accuracy of official statistics is more important to the public than ever before.

We also hold analysis showing the number of deaths involving adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccination (not restricted to 28 days) in table 12 of our Monthly Mortality Analysis dataset, which may be of interest. There are currently 3 deaths registered with the aligning ICD codes for this. However, should this change, they will be updated in this table. This publication is due to be updated later in July 2021.

You may also find the figures for the period December 2020 to June 2021, published by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) useful. They can be accessed here.

The further breakdowns requested would need to be created as bespoke analysis. Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Public Authorities are not obligated to create information in order to respond to requests. We therefore consider this to be information not held.