Day: 20 January 2022

Triple-Jabbed Over-30s Have Higher Infection Rates Than the Unvaccinated, UKHSA Data Show

This week’s UKHSA vaccine surveillance report has landed – and this week a change. In the (in)famous Table 12, which shows rates of infections, deaths and hospitalisations per 100,000 by vaccination status, the data have suddenly switched to giving rates for triple-jabbed rather than two-or-more doses, meaning we no longer have continuity with our previous data. So sudden was the change in fact, that the report itself has not kept up with it, and the notes under the table still say the rates are for “people who have received either two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or in people who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine”.

The change means we have to start over in our week-by-week comparisons, so the infection rates by age for this period are depicted above and the unadjusted vaccine effectiveness figures are depicted below.

Below is how the total reported infections for the period break down by vaccination status (in this chart vaccinated means one or more doses). While the chart doesn’t take into account the different numbers of people vaccinated and unvaccinated, with over 70% of infections in the vaccinated it does show that the outbreak is predominantly in vaccinated people.

Below is what our previous chart would look like if we just added the new data in, but the trend in the past week is obviously nonsense as they’ve changed the parameters. Still, it gives an indication of the difference between the double and triple jabbed, and note that all but the under-30s are still negative (meaning higher infection rates in the vaccinated than unvaccinated), and the under-30s are still low. Also, the over-70s declined since last week anyway, despite the switch to triple-jabbed only. Makes you wonder what the data for two-or-more doses would have shown.

The One Thing That Might Persuade Me to Get Jabbed

In my most recent Spectator column, I describe my recent bout of Covid and why it has almost – almost – persuaded me to get vaccinated.

While I was ill I read the following sentence in an article by Ed West, which put the wind up me: “An unvaccinated man in his fifties has about a one-in-150 chance of dying if he catches Covid, and is much more likely still to be hospitalised, put in ICU and left prematurely aged.” He didn’t give a source for the one in 150 figure, but that was on the high side, surely? Concerned, I commissioned a professor of epidemiology to calculate Omicron’s infection fatality rate for my Daily Sceptic website and he came up with 0.04 per cent, or one in 2,500, a figure that includes the vaccinated. Slightly higher for men in their fifties no doubt, but not one in 150.

However, the second part of Ed’s sentence – that the unvaccinated are more likely to end up in ICU than the vaccinated – is probably right. Was that where I was headed? I know, I know. My chances of being hospitalised, let alone put on a ventilator, were low, assuming it was Omicron. But what if it wasn’t? Or what if it was and I just got unlucky? I could picture the newspaper headline: “Unvaccinated lockdown sceptic in intensive care with severe Covid.” It wouldn’t be long before the BBC’s Clive Myrie was standing at the end of my bed, microphone in hand, asking me how I felt about not being jabbed.

This, for me, is the best argument against remaining unvaccinated. Not the risk of being in ICU and left ‘prematurely aged’ or worse, but the absolute certainty that if that happened I would be ridiculed mercilessly by my enemies. Totally undeserved, of course. I’m dubious about the effectiveness and durability of the Covid vaccines and concerned about the lack of medium- and long-term safety data, but I think of myself as a ‘vaccine sceptic’ rather than an ‘anti-vaxxer’ – and even that is over-stating it, as I’ve got nothing against the MMR. Nevertheless, you can bet your bottom dollar that if I was hospitalised with the virus I would be branded a “leading anti-vaxxer” and pilloried accordingly. In the eyes of the vaccine enthusiasts, anyone who expresses the slightest smidgen of doubt is a science-denying ‘conspiracy theorist’ and if they’re laid low by COVID-19 that’s divine justice.

Worth reading in full, obviously.

Stop Press: I’ve just been interviewed by Brendan O’Neill for his podcast to mark the second anniversary of the Free Speech Union. You can listen that here.

Parents Fight Back Against Schools Ignoring the Easing of Plan B Restrictions

Parent group UsForThem has urged parents to fight back against teaching unions and over-zealous health authorities that have urged schools to ignore the easing of Plan B restrictions in schools. As of today, the Government has advised schools to drop the requirement that children should wear masks in classrooms and won’t have to wear masks in communal areas from January 27th. MailOnline has more.

Parents have launched a campaign to prevent “overzealous” schools from imposing masks in schools after teaching unions threatened to derail Boris Johnson’s easing of Covid curbs.

Head teachers in England are set to ignore the Prime Minister’s bonfire of Plan B restrictions by compelling pupils to wear face coverings in classrooms.

Britain’s big teaching unions have accused the embattled Tory leader of making the decision to save his own political career as he handles the fallout from ‘Partygate’, rather than basing it on “sound public health and scientific advice”.

The National Education Union warned against lifting Omicron measures “too quickly”, claiming it could lead to “more disruption” for schools.

Its general secretary Dr Mary Bousted called the removal of masks “premature’” adding: “Rather than announcements aimed at saving Boris Johnson’s job, (the) Government should be exercising a duty of care to the nation’s pupils and the staff who educate them.”

Geoff Barton, the ASCL’s boss, said: “There is a danger that we are heading once again for a situation in which the Government gives the impression that the crisis is over when in actual fact there is huge disruption continuing to take place in education.”

Parent group UsForThem, which campaigned to get classrooms reopened during the pandemic, has now urged its supporters to bombard MPs and ministers with letters to “stop overzealous local public health authorities from unilaterally implementing face masks in schools”.

Worth reading in full.

UsForThem has published a template letter on its website that parents can send to ministers in the Department for Education, copying in their MP, if their child’s school is still insisting they wear masks in classrooms.

Sajid Javid Must Halt Child Covid Vaccination Immediately and Investigate the Cause of the Spike in Child Deaths

In recent months, a trend has been noted in the England and Wales all-cause mortality data, which has rung some alarm bells. Young males aged 15-19 have shown a rising death rate compared to the five-year average 2015-2019. At the same time, a large insurance company in the U.S. has reported a significant increase in deaths in the under 40s. This is obviously of concern, whatever the cause, but one possible factor which needs to be urgently excluded is any link to vaccine injury. The association between myocarditis and the mRNA vaccines, especially in younger age groups and in males, is already well established. It is particularly urgent as second doses and boosters are being rolled out, possibly putting adolescents at even higher risk, and at a time when the Omicron variant is much milder.

Members of HART, the Health Advisory and Recovery Team, have joined with other senior academics and health professionals to call for an immediate investigation into the increasing death rate amongst 15-19-year-old males since May of this year. 

At the High Court on Thursday 13th January, the ONS (Office for National Statistics) confirmed that there has been a significant rise in the death rate for adolescent males over the last eight months, compared to the same time period of 2015-2019. There have been at least 65 extra deaths in England and Wales, though the figure may be higher due to reporting delays for coroners’ cases. During the same time frame there were only two deaths involving Covid.

The concern is that this time period coincides with the rollout of vaccinations to this age group, who are known to be at an increased risk of myocarditis (heart inflammation), especially after the second dose. Far from rushing to investigate these deaths as they have arisen, ONS has stated it intends to undertake that work “when more reliable data are available”.

The rollout of vaccinations in this age group was always controversial, with risks and benefits finely balanced, but the Chief Medical Officers overturned the original advice, not on health grounds but to “reduce disruption to schools”.  Any marginal benefit of vaccination for the young must be considered outweighed by even a marginal increase in mortality. With the reduced risk from Omicron, and with increased risk from second doses, the balance will have tipped still further. 

An open letter to Sajid Javid, Chris Whitty, Patrick Vallance and the relevant public health bodies has been signed by over 80 scientists and health professionals, demanding there be an urgent investigation.

We and the other authors call on Sajid Javid and his advisors urgently and thoroughly to investigate these deaths, and to halt any doses for children or young people until vaccination has been ruled out as a cause.  

The full letter is available here: “Open Letter to the MHRA Regarding Child Death Data“.

Dr. Clare Craig is a Diagnostic Pathologist and Dr. Ros Jones is a retired Paediatrician.

Sadiq Khan Keeps Masks on London Transport Despite Government Ending Mandate

Passengers must continue to wear masks on London’s buses, trains and trams, Mayor Sadiq Khan has said, despite the Government dropping mask requirements elsewhere. While it will no longer be legally enforceable from January 26th – the police will no longer be able to fine you – it will remain a condition of carriage, so TfL can prevent entry or kick you off. The BBC has more.

Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the end of Plan B pandemic restrictions, including scrapping the legal requirement for mask-wearing on public transport, in shops and schools.

But Mr. Khan says passengers must continue to don a face covering as a condition of carriage, due to the continuing threat of Omicron.

Some 30% of Londoners are unvaccinated.

The restrictions introduced in December also encouraged working from home and mandated Covid passes for some major events.

After examining the latest data, the Mr. Johnson told the Commons that the restrictions would end on January 26th.

But Mr. Khan said he wanted Londoners to continue to mask up, as “sadly this is not the end of our fight against the virus”.

He said: “If we have learnt anything from this pandemic, it is that we must not get complacent and undo all our hard work and sacrifices.

“That’s why face coverings will remain a condition of carriage on TfL services.

“I’m asking everyone in our capital to do the right thing and continue to wear a face covering when travelling on TfL services to keep us all protected and to prevent further restrictions from being necessary later down the line.”

Does Khan really believe that the requirement to wear a mask on public transport has sent Omicron into decline, or is he just making a cynical political calculation? I hope it’s the latter as at least then he can make the cynical calculation the other way once he realises the wind has changed. My fear is that he really believes the fairy story that filthy face rags stop Covid outbreaks.

Worth reading in full.

Record Hospitalisations in Highly Vaccinated U.S. States as Omicron Surge Peaks

The Omicron surge in America, which has accelerated at an incredible rate, appears to be peaking, according to analysis by J.P. Morgan.

In a report published on Tuesday, the investment banking company notes that the U.S. peak has not come any later than in the U.K., despite the lower vaccination rate.

The Omicron wave in the U.S. also looks to be peaking, despite a significantly worse vaccination profile. The overall level of fully vaccinated individuals in the US, at 62% of the total population, is lower than in the U.K., where 70% of the total population have been fully vaccinated, but the difference is not huge. More striking is the difference in the share of the population who have received a booster shot, 24% of the total population in the U.S. compared with 54% in the U.K. Given the importance of boosters in lifting protection, after the protection from the primary doses fades over time, it might have been expected that the Omicron infection upswing would last longer in the U.S. than in the U.K.. But this does not seem to be the case. It looks like the effective reproduction number in the U.S. returned to 1.0 on January 16th, only 31 days after the Omicron variant first pushed it above 1.0 in mid-December

Reported infections vary considerably by state, with some on their way down while others have yet to peak (note in the below that while all the charts show reported infections per 100,000, the scale for each state is different).

Natural Immunity Superior to Vaccine Immunity, CDC Study Finds

A study by the U.S. CDC (a Federal Government health agency) has found that natural immunity is superior to vaccine immunity alone, and that being vaccinated on top makes little difference, confirming the findings of several studies in other countries.

The study looked at Covid infection and hospitalisation rates in California and New York during the Delta period, June to November 2021. The chart below shows the hazard rates over time for the four cohorts (no vaccine and no prior infection; no vaccine and prior infection; vaccine and no prior infection; vaccine and prior infection) for hospital admissions, adjusted for age – focus especially on the relative heights of the three dashed lines near the bottom.

The authors write: “These results demonstrate that vaccination protects against COVID-19 and related hospitalisation, and that surviving a previous infection protects against a reinfection and related hospitalisation.” Note that the unvaccinated group here is split between those who are and are not previously infected, so is not directly comparable to the UKHSA data which does not make this distinction.

The authors note that, while prior to July the vaccinated were better off than the previously infected, come the summer and the arrival of Delta, prior infection was stronger.

Similar to the early period of this study, two previous U.S. studies found more protection from vaccination than from previous infection during periods before Delta predominance. As was observed in the present study after July, recent international studies have also demonstrated increased protection in persons with previous infection, with or without vaccination, relative to vaccination alone.

In a nod to the superior effect on the immune system of exposure to the virus, they comment : “This might be due to differential stimulation of the immune response by either exposure type.”

The vaccines waned in efficacy over time and against Delta, the authors note: “Importantly, infection-derived protection was greater after the highly transmissible Delta variant became predominant, coinciding with early declining of vaccine-induced immunity in many persons.”

In contrast, protection from natural immunity didn’t appear to wane: “Whereas French and Israeli population-based studies noted waning protection from previous infection, this was not apparent in the results from this or other large U.K. and U.S. studies.”

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