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Debunk: No, it isn’t true that vaccines have little effect on COVID-19 transmission

Piers Morgan’s claim is contradicted by numerous studies

CLAIMS THAT THERE’S “not much difference in whether you’ve been vaccinated or not” in preventing the transmission of Covid-19 are counter to the published scientific evidence.

An example of the claim was made in a video interview between British broadcaster Piers Morgan and former-kickboxer Andrew Tate, who also falsely claimed in the clip that Covid-19 restrictions were put in place to stop the “common cold.”

The version of the video published on the Piers Morgan Uncensored YouTube channel has more than 4.5 million views as of the time of writing.

A clip of these comments was shared by Irish social media users, with one post receiving more than 8,600 views on Facebook.

The video clip of Morgan and Tate was overlaid with text reading: “The con is now being exposed” and was shared with the description: “Piers Morgan Vaggzine Transmission Admission – with Andrew Tate blasting out truth at the end”

In the clip, Morgan said that he had supported Covid restrictions based on his then-belief that: “If you refuse to be vaccinated, you shouldn’t get the same rights as people who’ve been vaccinated, if it’s true that, if you’re unjabbed, you can pass it on. It turned out, actually, there’s not much difference whether you’ve been vaccinated or not. And at that point, I changed my mind.”

We have reached out to Piers Morgan about this statement and are awaiting a response.

A similar claim was made in the Dáil last year, however The Journal found it to be mostly false (the claim was made using a paper that showed unvaccinated and vaccinated people have a similar peak viral load but the TD making the claim didn’t make clear how unvaccinated people spend a longer time at that peak than the vaccinated).

Studies show significant reductions in transmission following vaccination. A study in England found that vaccination reduced household transmission by about 40 to 50 percent, while a Scottish study found that vaccinated healthcare workers were much less likely to infect family members with Covid-19.

Meanwhile, new variants of Covid-19 have reduced the effectiveness of the original vaccines, both in terms of reducing serious illness and reducing transmission, studies show.

One paper showed that vaccinated people with breakthrough infections appeared to be almost as capable of spreading it as unvaccinated people.

However, the authors of the study told The Journal that the study had a small sample size and transmission data may have been skewed because the study took place in the UK where the unvaccinated were mostly kids and teenagers.

Moreover, all these studies still found that people were less likely to be infected with the Delta variant and there were significantly lower rates of Delta variant transmission in vaccinated households. 

This may be explained in part because, as the UK Health Security Agency said: “Uninfected individuals cannot transmit; therefore, the vaccines are also effective at preventing transmission”.

More recently, a Danish study of variants of Omicron, the current dominant strain, found that the probability a vaccinated person infected with Covid-19 would pass it to a household member was about 23% or 33% lower than if they were unvaccinated, depending on the subvariant. A preprint posted online last week corroborated these findings, saying that vaccinated prisoners in California were 33% less likely to spread Omicron variants to close contacts.

Later in the clip of the interview with Piers Morgan, Andrew Tate says that during the COVID crisis, “people sat and missed cancer appointments because they were scared of the common cold”.

The clip ends shortly after this, however, in the complete interview on YouTube, Morgan disputes Tate’s point.  

COVID-19 is a different disease than the common cold. It is caused by a different virus, it has different symptoms, and it is far more dangerous. 

These assertions — that being vaccinated does not significantly reduce the transmission of COVID-19, or that COVID restrictions were due to the “common cold” — are false.

Additional reporting by Brianna Parkins.

The Journal’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here.

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