Day: 11 August 2021

Public Health Scotland Admits That the Majority of People Hospitalised and Testing Positive for Covid Are Vaccinated

The latest Covid report from Public Health Scotland has gone back to adding data normally after last week where a backlog was added without any kind of helpful differentiation between the normal data and the one-off additions. This means we can resume our effort to get a rough estimate of how well the vaccines are preventing death.

Here’s the data so far presented by week.

In the bottom right table I have ignored the week July 16th-22nd, when the backlog was added, to get two weeks’ worth of data covering July 9th-15th and July 23rd-29th. Focusing just on the over-50s (for which vaccination rates are now stable), we can see that there were 14 deaths in the unvaccinated added in those two weeks and 60 deaths in the double vaccinated. Using our rough estimates from last time of vaccine coverage in the over-50s of 7% unvaccinated and 91% double vaccinated, this gives a (roughly estimated) vaccine effectiveness against death in those two weeks of 67% (1-((60/91%)/(14/7%)). This is up from 46% from one week’s data last time, and heading closer to the estimate from PHE data of 77%. This is perfectly respectable and will (if correct) be contributing to reducing the death toll from COVID-19, but is notably much lower than the up-to-99% effectiveness against death currently estimated by PHE in their official reports.

Another point of note from the latest PHS report is that it shows that the majority of both new positive cases and hospital admissions are in vaccinated people. According to the report, in the four weeks up to August 6th, “48.1% of COVID-19 positive PCR cases were in unvaccinated individuals” and “46.8% of COVID-19 related acute hospital admissions were in unvaccinated individuals”. There are confounders of age and the proportion of the population vaccinated, of course, but even so this shows that any attempt to claim that the majority of current infections or hospitalisations are in unvaccinated people is misleading.

The growing share of the vaccinated in new infections and hospitalisations also appears to be confirmation of the phenomenon noted from PHE data earlier this week, where infections in the unvaccinated peaked and declined ahead of those in the vaccinated. This phenomenon warrants further investigation.

Cap Cost of Covid Tests at £40, Government Told by Tory MPs

Brits are being priced out of holidays abroad due to the hefty costs of PCR tests, which Tory MPs say should be capped at £40 and scrapped altogether for holidaymakers returning to the U.K. from ‘low risk’ countries. The Telegraph has the story.

Senior Conservative MPs are calling on Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, to take immediate action to end “rip-off” prices of PCR tests that still average £75 per person and risk turning foreign holidays into the “preserve only of the wealthy”.

Writing for the Telegraph, Henry Smith, the Tory Chairman of the All-Party Future of Aviation Group said the Government should cap PCR tests at around £40 and scrap them for holidaymakers returning from “low-risk” countries.

“The rationale for the testing regime looks increasingly dubious. Why not, instead, sample a random group of arrivals rather than require everyone to pay for tests frequently run by shoddy companies failing to deliver tests on time and guilty of making hugely misleading price claims?” he wrote.

He was backed by Huw Merriman, Chairman of the Transport Select Committee, who published a letter he has sent to Mr Javid in which he urged the Government to give “serious consideration” to more “affordable” tests and rethink the need for PCR tests for passengers from Green and Amber List countries.

“The high cost, poor quality and lack of sequencing from PCR tests needs to be urgently addressed by the Government. They are an unnecessary barrier to affordable international travel,” he said. …

David Davis, a former Cabinet minister, said it would be “perfectly sensible” to cap test costs to prevent profiteering and axe the 20% VAT charge on PCR tests, which the Government say are necessary to prevent the import of Covid variants. …

Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the powerful 1922 Conservative backbench committee, said: “Analysis of test results shows fewer positive test results than in the general population. If the Government is mandating so many tests, then it should also require providers to offer them at a reasonable cost.” …

Fewer than one in 50 travellers from Red or Amber countries are testing positive for Covid, while only one in 20 of those positive tests are being genome sequenced for variants because the presence of the virus in the samples is “vanishingly small” after being suppressed by the vaccine.

Worth reading in full.

The Heresy of Heresies

We’re publishing a guest piece today by Charlotte Niemiec, a freelance journalist. In an impressive tour d’horizon, she highlights the Government’s endless stream of contradictory and nonsensical advice, from face masks to school closures. Here is an extract:

Being generous, we could blame an incompetent Government blindsided by a ‘pandemic’ that hit just as it was popping the cork on finally ‘getting Brexit done’. But the actions it took went beyond naïvety and entered the realms of the Kafka-esque nonsensical. The last 18 months have been those of U-turns and false predictions followed by denials; hirings and firings of ‘experts’ paid to find or fabricate the evidence to fit the theory; promises to follow ‘the science’, to go by ‘data not dates’ – and then do the opposite. The mainstream media has refused to ask tough questions, social platforms have censored anything that doesn’t fit the fear narrative, scientists and medics and employees across the spectrum have lost their jobs and reputations for daring to speak out or refuse injection. The nurses on the ‘front line’ who worked around the clock last year without a vaccine will now be fired if they choose not to have one. This is their reward. The elites have flourished while the proles festered.

Worth reading in full.

More Than a Million People Waiting at Least Six Months for Vital NHS Services in England Alone

Close to 1.2 million people in England alone are being forced to wait for at least six months to access vital NHS services. So much for “Protect the NHS”! And “the waiting list figures are going one way only – up”, warns the Chief Executive of the Patients Association. The Guardian has the story.

The May 2021 figure is almost five times that recorded in the same period in 2019 , before the pandemic hit, and also includes patients requiring gynaecological services.

Senior doctors said such long delays were causing patients to be left in pain, while experts said the full impact of the pandemic may not yet be known. …

Rachel Power, the Chief Executive of the Patients Association, warned: “The waiting list figures are going one way only – up. And they won’t come down until the NHS can deliver activity faster than patients are presenting with new need.” …

Though the vast majority of patients are supposed to be seen within 18 weeks, six-month waiting lists have doubled for ear, nose and throat services and gastroenterology services when compared to the same period in 2020.

The number of patients waiting for gynaecological services stood at 15,647 in May 2019, rising to 48,168 in May 2020 before reaching 87,628 in the same period this year.

Dr Edward Morris, the President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the college was very concerned that women were having to wait far too long to be diagnosed.

“The current backlog we are facing in gynaecology is made up of people needing clinically urgent treatment, so many women are being left in pain with these benign conditions.” …

In May, more than 336,000 patients were waiting for treatments for at least a year, with almost 21,000 in Birmingham university hospital alone.

The hospital also recorded the longest median wait time, with patients waiting an average of 18 weeks, while some patients were waiting even longer for certain treatments. …

The figures come just before NHS England releases its latest monthly statistics on waiting times for treatments including A&E care, surgery and cancer care, which officials believe will be grim reading.

An NHS spokesperson said: “Despite the significant disruption caused by the pandemic, with staff treating 410,000 seriously ill Covid patients and launching the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in our history, NHS services continued to be available for patients who needed them, and are now making good use of the £1 billion in additional funding for elective recovery.

“The number of routine treatments and operations performed by NHS staff is increasing, with cancer and mental health services back at pre-pandemic levels, and so we continue to urge anyone who needs the NHS to come forward so we can help you.”

Worth reading in full.

Is This a Dystopian Satire? No, it’s Daily Life Down Under

Steve Waterson, the Commercial Editor of the Australian, has kindly given us permission to reprint his latest column. It’s another jeremiad against Australia’s staggeringly incompetent ruling class, as they frantically try and spin their mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis as a mature, statesmanlike response. Meanwhile, the regulations that ordinary Australians have to cope with grow ever more ridiculous. Sit down to drink, but stand up near a park bench; exercise, but don’t rest; go shopping but don’t browse; under no circumstances talk to anyone you know, despite the masks that afford magic protection from nanometre Covid dust… “The list is a never-ending carousel of hilarity,” says Waterson.

Well, that was worth waiting for. Finally a tiny glimpse of the modelling that has underpinned government decision-making on our Covid response, and very convincing it is too. And unbelievably, literally unbelievably, precise.

Let’s not go through the various conditional predictions of the virus’s impact, especially the “worst-case” scenario, which happily generates a number far short of “everybody dies”, which I would regard as the worst case.

Instead here’s what the Doherty Institute says could happen if we suffered a six-month uncontrolled outbreak with only 60% of the population vaccinated: there would be 737,971 infections and 5,294 deaths. Note the super-scientific accuracy: not 737,970 or 737,972 infections; why, that would just be sloppy guesswork.

I’m teasing, of course (it’s one of the few pleasures not yet forbidden in these joyless times), and have no doubt the statisticians are doing their very best with the data; so let’s assume they’re correct that almost three-quarters of a million would be infected, of whom 5,000 would die.

Many of us in the anti-lockdown corner are asked how many lives we would sacrifice to see the country open up again, our accusers triumphantly certain there is no decent answer because, as the NSW Premier told us in May, “no death is acceptable”.

She and her interstate counterparts would rather smash our lives and livelihoods in pursuit of their ridiculous, hubristic ambition.

If a foreign power were causing damage on this scale we would regard it as an act of war, when deaths in defence of the country would become acceptable again.

Perhaps we should bite the bullet and say 5,000 predominantly old people taken prematurely is a sad but tolerable price to pay for the restoration of our freedoms and the repair of our society – as long as it’s not my precious grandparents. Oh wait, mine have already died of old age, like all my ancestors since humans first wandered out of the African Rift Valley. It happens a lot, I understand. And by the way, those 5,000 projected deaths assume we could find no other way of protecting the vulnerable, which is hard to believe.

The Most Educated Are the Least Likely to Get Vaccinated Against Covid, According to New U.S. Study

Barack Obama’s recent birthday bash wasn’t a high Covid risk, according to a New York Times writer, because of the “sophisticated, vaccinated” guests who attended. But is high sophistication really an indication that someone has had the vaccine? Certainly not, according to a new U.S. study which found that the most educated are the least likely to get ‘jabbed’.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh have studied well over five million survey responses and label those who “probably” or “definitely” would not get a Covid vaccine as ‘vaccine hesitant’.

As UnHerd reports, some findings are somewhat predictable, such as that counties with higher levels of support for Donald Trump in the 2020 election had higher levels of hesitancy. But others were, perhaps, less so.

More surprising is the breakdown in vaccine hesitancy by level of education. It finds that the association between hesitancy and education level follows a U-shaped curve with the highest hesitancy among those least and most educated. People [with] a master’s degree had the least hesitancy, and the highest hesitancy was among those holding a PhD.

What’s more, the paper found that in the first five months of 2021, the largest decrease in hesitancy was among the least educated – those with a high school education or less. Meanwhile, hesitancy held constant in the most educated group; by May, those with PhDs were the most hesitant group.

Not only are the most educated people most sceptical of taking the Covid vaccine, they are also the least likely the change their minds about it.

 Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh study.

The study found that the most commonly stated reason for not getting vaccinated was concern about the potential side effects, with a lack of trust in government trailing closely behind.

The UnHerd report is worth reading in full.

Find the full U.S. study here.