Professor Richard Ennos, a retired Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Edinburgh University, writes:
In Scotland this summer there has been excess mortality for the past 21 weeks with the total excess now exceeding 3,000 deaths. I and others have written to MSPs about the dreadful situation asking for a thorough analysis of what is responsible. In response we have been sent a reply from Anita Morrison, Head of Health and Social Care Analysis and Support, that I reproduce below. Five possible explanations are given, none of which reflect favourably on the Scottish Government’s public health policy. To paraphrase her reply, 45% are due to COVID-19 and the rest are accounted for by one or more of:
- COVID-19 deaths that were not recognised.
- Unintended consequences of the Scottish Government’s non-clinical response to COVID-19 (masks, social isolation etc.).
- Problems with access to the health and social care services (presumably due to Scottish government policy of withdrawing these).
- Patients not accessing services that were available (presumably because they were too scared of catching COVID-19 due to Scottish government exaggeration of the risks).
- Some other cause that has not been identified.
What follows is my reply to Anita Morrison to point out that her response is a damning indictment of Scottish Government public health policy whose outcome should ultimately be measured by the metric of excess deaths.
FAO: Anita Morrison
Head of Health and Social Care Analysis and Support
Directorate for Covid Public Health
Cc Dr. Gregor Smith, Jason Leitch, Caroline Lamb, Maree Todd MSP, Kevin Stewart MSP, Nicola Sturgeon MSP
28th October 2021
Dear Anita Morrison
Thank you for your response to my letter, originally addressed to Sarah Boyack MSP, concerning the unprecedented rise in excess deaths in Scotland this summer that continues as I write (252 excess deaths above five-year average in the past week 42, 24% higher than normal). It is now indisputable that some major health catastrophe is unfolding in Scotland this summer. It is clearly essential that there is serious scrutiny of the health policies that have been adopted by the Scottish Government that have led to this situation. To help with this I would like to look in some detail at the explanations that you have provided for the incredibly worrying situation, and set out the implications of what you have written.
In your response you have put forward the argument that some 45% of these excess deaths have been caused by Covid. This proposition relies on the assumption that all Covid deaths represent excess deaths, a position that is hard to sustain given that Covid deaths are associated with multiple comorbidities, and therefore are unlikely to be exclusively in addition to deaths that would have occurred anyway from other causes.
Setting aside this difficulty, and assuming that 45% of excess deaths are due to Covid, this indicates that the policies that have been pursued by the Scottish Government have been unsuccessful in controlling deaths from Covid this summer. This is in contrast to the summer of 2020 when there was no such excess of deaths due to Covid or any other cause. This increase in the impact of Covid in Scotland between the summers of 2020 and 2021 is nicely illustrated using National Records of Scotland data from the two years stratified by different age groups.
A simple and compelling explanation for these data is that a policy has been enacted in 2021 that was not enacted in 2020 that has caused a three- to six-fold increase in summer Covid hospitalisations. What could that be?
Let us now turn to the majority of excess deaths that cannot be accounted for by Covid. I will be using the most up to date figures from the National Records of Scotland for the summer period 2021 up to week 42 that indicate 3,028 excess deaths (rather than your figures that extend only to week 40). The National Records of Scotland classify these deaths according to their causes, location and age. This is illustrated below.
Here we see that Covid can actually account for a maximum of only 26% of excess deaths in summer 2021. Significant rises in cancer and circulatory deaths are concerning, but perhaps of greater note is that 44% of excess deaths come under the classification of ‘Other’. They are not the kinds of deaths that are readily classifiable into the normal categories that we expect in Scotland, or they would have been placed in those categories. It is therefore these ‘Other’ deaths, some 44% of the total, that we need to investigate in great detail.
From the other panels in the graph above we can see that these ‘Other’ deaths are occurring at home, implying that they are likely to have been sudden because there has been no hospital admission. Furthermore, these excess deaths are not confined to the oldest age groups, where we expect most deaths, but are extended into the younger age group. Analysis of the timing of this rise in excess death shows that it started in the oldest age group and is initiated sequentially in ever younger age groups (see graph below). This strongly suggests that there is some cause for these excess deaths at home that operates first in the elderly and works its way sequentially down the age groups in Scotland. What could this be?
Now let us look at the non-Covid explanations that you have provided for the dramatic increase in excess deaths in Scotland over the past summer.
Your first explanation is that the summer excess deaths recorded as non-Covid are actually due to Covid, but have not been certified as such. I see that you yourself are not convinced by this explanation given the level of testing that has taken place. However, let us suppose this to be true. In that case the Scottish Government’s public health measures that have been put in place in summer 2021 to prevent Covid have been far worse than those put in place in summer 2020 – indeed they have been disastrous.
Your second explanation is that the non-clinical responses to COVID-19 put in place by the Scottish Government (mask-wearing, social isolation etc.) have had unintended deleterious consequences on public health and have dramatically increased the rates of death in the Scottish population. This is an admission of abject failure of the Scottish Government’s public health response to Covid. Public health policy is all about balancing the benefits and risks of interventions to achieve the lowest possible impact during a health emergency. It is pertinent to remember that no benefit-risk assessment of non-clinical interventions on the physical and mental health of the Scottish population was conducted before these interventions were enforced.
Your third explanation is that there has been a problem with access to health and social care services, and patients have not received the care they required from the NHS. Access to these services over the past 20 months has been under the control of the Scottish Government, so if this explanation is correct, then the Scottish Government is culpable for increasing the death rate in Scotland. Numerous policies have been deliberately pursued to dramatically reduce GP face-to-face consultation, to cancel appointments and operations in hospitals etc., so the evidence to support this, as at least a partial explanation, is overwhelming.
Your fourth explanation is that individuals who are in poor health have not referred themselves to health and social care services as they would at other times. To some extent this would be confounded with Scottish Government policies of restricting health care provision discussed above. However there has also been a concerted and relentless media campaign by the Scottish Government to increase fear in the public, particularly fear of hospitals where they may catch Covid. This has meant that they have not gone for treatment when it was necessary. Whatever the proximal cause of failure to seek medical attention, the ultimate cause and responsibility lies in Scottish Government policy.
Your final explanation for the dramatic rise in excess deaths in summer 2021 is that there is some other cause that has not yet been identified. As noted earlier the phenomenon of excess deaths in the presence of a Covid epidemic was not seen in summer 2020, but is seen in summer 2021. What differs between the two years? The glaringly obvious answer is the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination. There was no COVID-19 vaccination programme in 2020, but there was roll-out of Covid vaccinations in a sequential way to increasingly younger age groups in 2021, a pattern that we see in the manifestation of excess deaths. All of the COVID-19 vaccines are novel and experimental with no long-term safety data. They are now associated with a wide range of serious side-effects (blood clotting, myocarditis, Guillain-Barre syndrome) whose likely frequency in the wider population was not assessed in the small-scale phase one and two trials that included only a subset of healthy volunteers. The Yellow Card adverse events reporting system, that capture only a fraction of events, has already recorded over 1,700 deaths in the U.K. population associated with the COVID-19 vaccines. There is therefore a prima facie case for COVID-19 vaccination being a contributing factor to the dramatic rise in summer excess deaths in Scotland in 2021.
I am very grateful for your response to my original letter. It has been extremely helpful in crystalising my thoughts about the causes of the dramatic and continuing rise in excess deaths that we currently see in Scotland. My conclusion is that whatever the true explanation for the phenomenon, it is rooted in the misguided and disastrous public health policies of the Scottish Government. The analysis has moreover highlighted that a significant contributor to the excess death of the Scottish population this summer may be adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines, a factor that apparently has not occurred to either the Scottish Government or yourself. I would be grateful if you would pass on this insight to the Scottish Health minister so that unnecessary suffering and death is not meted out on the adults, and now children of Scotland.