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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Ofcom will not investigate Lorraine show over inaccurate Covid-19 claim


Media watchdog Ofcom has said it will not investigate ITV’s Lorraine after Dr Hilary Jones made an inaccurate statement about Covid-19 figures.

Ofcom received 3,833 complaints after Dr Hilary stated incorrectly that 90% of Covid-19 patients in hospital were unvaccinated – a figure that was more applicable to those in intensive care.

The claim was filed on December 6th. Two days later, a clarification was broadcast.

Ofcom stated that it had warned ITV to exercise “greater caution” in the future.

However, the watchdog did not conduct a formal investigation.

‘Greater protection’

On the 6th of December, Lorraine Kelly repeated Dr. Hilary’s claim, with actor Martin Kemp repeating the incorrect statistic on Lorraine the next day.

However, Ofcom stated that it considered the fact that the daytime programme was live and that a clarification was broadcast on December 8th.

“This programme incorrectly referenced the proportion of unvaccinated Covid-19 patients in hospital,” an Ofcom spokesperson said. We have advised ITV that trusted medical experts should exercise greater caution when presenting facts and figures on public health issues.

“However, given that official statistics and research have consistently shown that vaccination against Covid-19 provides greater protection against serious health consequences, we do not believe the error was significant enough to materially mislead viewers on this main point of discussion.”

According to the latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), about 40% of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the last three weeks of December were unvaccinated.

Figures for intensive care are not as up-to-date, and predate the Omicron variant. However, the latest data suggests that the percentage of Covid-19 patients admitted to critical care who were unvaccinated decreased from 75% in May 2021 to 47% in October 2021.

However, the figures only cover admissions, not length of stay, so unvaccinated patients may become more seriously ill and require more time in Intensive Care.

Because a large proportion of the UK’s population has now received a vaccination, the percentage of unvaccinated patients admitted to hospital has decreased.

Even if only a small percentage of those people become seriously ill, it may be enough to outnumber the severe cases that are more common among the unvaccinated.

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