Clive Palmer, the chair of the United Australia party, graced the airwaves this morning.
He managed to stay on the line for 12 long minutes, without hanging up on ABC Radio National breakfast host Fran Kelly.
Spare a thought for factcheckers everywhere, including here at Guardian Australia.
We’ve spent the morning dissecting some of Palmer’s wilder claims.
Claim: There is ‘no data’ to suggest hospitalisations and deaths are down due to vaccination
Palmer said there was no data to support the notion that fewer people were getting sick or dying from Covid, due to vaccination.
“There’s no data to support that in Australia,” he said.
He also said vaccination “makes no difference from a public health context”.
Both statements are patently untrue.
The data clearly shows the dramatic impact vaccination has had in reducing hospitalisations and deaths.
Let’s take NSW as an example. It was hit by huge increases to case numbers during the Delta outbreak.
Data from NSW Health shows of the 8,660 cases hospitalised between 16 June to 7 October, only 5.7% (493) were fully vaccinated and just 3% (30) of the 1,015 cases who were admitted to ICU were fully vaccinated. Twenty-six of those 30 people had significant underlying health conditions.
The ICU admissions in NSW peaked between 8 September to 21 September. During that two week period, unvaccinated individuals were more than 16 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care or die.
Of course, a small number of people will still die even with both doses. The data suggests of the 412 people who died in NSW between 16 June and 7 October, about 47 people had received two doses. The average age of those 47 people was 82 years old.
Claim: Most vaccinated nation on earth also has ‘highest amounts of Covid cases in the world’
At one point, Palmer pointed to the tiny nation of Gibraltar to argue his case against vaccination.
“If you go to Gibraltar, for example, the most vaccinated country in the world with 118% vaccination … they have the highest amounts of Covid cases in the world at the moment per capita of persons [sic].”
Leaving aside the problems with using Gibraltar, which has a population of 33,691, as an indicator of any sort, it will shock you to learn that what Palmer says is not true.
Gibraltar does not have the highest number of Covid cases per capita, either in a cumulative sense or in terms of new cases.
But the crucial measure when talking about vaccination is, of course, the number of deaths.
On that measure, Gibraltar is performing well.
Despite an ongoing outbreak, it has recorded just four deaths since March, when it hit its 80% full vaccination rate. Two people are currently in a critical condition in hospital.
The vast majority of its 98 deaths from Covid occurred in January and early February, when its vaccination rates were still low.
Claim: More people die on the road than from Covid-19
It’s a line used often by those seeking to minimise the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Palmer said more people die on the road than from Covid.
That’s a significant exaggeration.
Collating data from the monthly road death reports released by the infrastructure department shows that, between March 2020 to the end of October, Australia has had 1,863 road deaths.
The number is almost precisely the same for Covid deaths.
During the same period, there were 1,861 deaths from Covid.
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It’s worth noting Australians accept limitations to their freedoms to reduce that road death figure. Road laws, driving tests, seatbelts, car safety standards, taxes, constant policing, speed cameras, alcohol interlocks, just to name a few.
It’s also worth remembering that the mortality rate from Covid in other countries is far higher than Australia. In Peru, for example, the case-mortality rate is 9%.
Claim: ‘Over 500,000 people marched in Melbourne’
Palmer suggested there were 500,000 people at the “freedom” rally in Melbourne on the weekend.
“Over 500,000 people marched in Melbourne last weekend. 150,000 marched with Craig Kelly in Sydney and 45,000 people were with me in the at the botanical gardens week before,”
Even the most favourable media report, an article in the Australian, suggested a crowd of 100,000 to 300,000.
Most other outlets reported crowds in the tens of thousands.
Palmer also accused the ABC of not covering the protests.
Online, on radio, and through its television channels.
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[ ALL Information from theguardian.com was used in this report. Read More ]