Day: 26 January 2022

Vaccine Safety Update

This is the 24th of the round-ups of Covid vaccine safety reports and news compiled by a group of medical doctors who are monitoring developments but prefer to remain anonymous in the current climate (find the 23rd one here). By no means is this part of an effort to generate alarm about the vaccines or dissuade anyone from getting inoculated. It should be read in conjunction with the Daily Sceptic‘s other posts on vaccines, which include both encouraging and not so encouraging developments. At the Daily Sceptic we report all the news about the vaccines whether positive or negative and give no one advice about whether they should or should not take them. Unlike with lockdowns, we are neither pro-vaccine nor anti-vaccine; we see our job as reporting the facts, not advocating for or against a particular policy. The vaccine technology is novel and the vaccines have not yet fully completed their trials, which is why they’re in use under temporary and not full market authorisation. This was done on account of the emergency situation and the trial data was largely encouraging on both efficacy and safety. For a summary of that data, see this preamble to the Government’s page on the Yellow Card reporting system. (Dr. Tess Lawrie in June wrote an open letter to Dr. June Raine, head of the MHRA, arguing that: “The MHRA now has more than enough evidence on the Yellow Card system to declare the COVID-19 vaccines unsafe for use in humans,” a claim that has been ‘fact checked’ here.) Boris Johnson said in October that being double vaccinated “doesn’t protect you against catching the disease, and it doesn’t protect you against passing it on”. We publish information and opinion to inform public debate and help readers reach their own conclusions about what is best for them, based on the available data.

Summary of Adverse Events in the U.K.

According to an updated report published on January 20th, the MHRA Yellow Card reporting system has recorded a total of 1,429,071 events based on 436,173 reports. The total number of fatalities reported is 1,954.

  • Pfizer (25.5 million first doses, 22.2 million second doses) now has one Yellow Card in 160 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 36,638 people vaccinated (696).
  • AstraZeneca (24.9 million first doses, 24.2 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 103 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 20,924 people vaccinated (1,190).
  • Moderna (1.6 million first doses, 1.4 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 48 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 53,333 people vaccinated (30).

NHS Vaccine Mandate is “Under Review” Says Sajid Javid, as Deadline Approaches

Ministers are “reflecting” on plans for mandatory jabs for NHS staff, the Health Secretary has said, with the policy “under review”, despite the fact the deadline falls next week. The Telegraph has the story.

Sajid Javid said that while the principle behind the stance remained unchanged, the “very different” nature of the Omicron variant had to be taken into account.

The Health Secretary said around 77,000 NHS workers remained unvaccinated against Covid, saying it was the “professional duty” of every NHS worker to be vaccinated.

He said efforts to boost uptake in recent weeks meant that at some trusts as few as 25 out of 5,000 staff had given a “firm refusal”.

Nationally, around 5% of NHS staff have yet to be vaccinated.

Mr Javid hinted that the deadline of February 4th for staff to have their first jab – or face dismissal in April – could still be delayed, or see a booster added to requirements.

The Health Secretary said the decision to introduce mandatory jabs was driven by the need to protect patient safety.

Mr Javid told the Health and Social Care Committee: “That was the principle and we weighed it up. The dominant variant at the time was Delta … the dominant variant now, in fact, almost all cases, is Omicron.”

He said people had “made representations” to him about Omicron being “very different” to Delta, in that while the former is more transmissible it is “intrinsically less severe”.

Mr Javid said while some people had urged him to add boosters to the mandatory requirement, others have called for it to be scrapped altogether.

He said: “I think it is right in light of Omicron that we reflect on all this and keep all Covid policies properly under review. Because Omicron is different to Delta. Equally, we don’t know what the next variant is going to be … But we are reflecting on all this.”

We don’t know what the next variant is going to be – but there’s no reason to think it will evade the vaccines less than Omicron, as that’s not really how viral evolution works.

Worth reading in full.

Myocarditis Risk Increases Up To 133-FOLD Following Covid Vaccination, Study Finds

A study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found that the risk of myocarditis (heart inflammation) after receiving an mRNA Covid vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) was dramatically increased across many age groups and was highest after the second vaccination dose in young men.

The study found myocarditis reports were highest after the second vaccination dose in males aged 12 to 15 years at 70.7 per million Pfizer doses, compared to an expected rate of 0.53 per million, amounting to a 133-fold increase; in males aged 16 to 17 years at 105.9 per million Pfizer doses, compared to an expected rate of 1.34 per million, amounting to a 79-fold increase; and in young men aged 18 to 24 years at 52.4 per million Pfizer doses and 56.3 per million Moderna doses, compared to an expected rate of 1.76 per million, amounting to a 30-fold and 32-fold increase respectively. The full results are shown in the table below and a selection are depicted in the chart above.

Covid Infections in England Dropped Last Week, ONS Data Confirm

Coronavirus infections in England declined again last week despite infections continuing to rise in children, figures from the ONS showed today. MailOnline has more.

Government analysts estimate 2.6 million people in the country were infected on any day during the week ending January 22nd, compared to 2.9 million one week earlier. Both figures equate to one in 20 people in England carrying the virus.

It marks the second week in a row that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has projected a fall in prevalence, illustrating how the Omicron wave fizzled off after causing infections to spiral to pandemic highs.

Cases are now trending downwards in all age groups apart from under-16s, with the return to classrooms earlier this month thought to be behind the trend.

The ONS survey is regarded as the most reliable indicator of the UK’s outbreak because it uses random sampling of around 100,000 people, rather than relying on people coming forward to be tested.

Official daily numbers show cases have plateaued at around 90,000 per day, following a fortnight of infections being in freefall. This was before the effects of lifting Plan B restrictions in England have even been felt.

Work from home guidance was revoked last week, while Covid passes and requirements to wear face masks in public spaces will come to an end tomorrow. Boris Johnson has also said he wants the self-isolation rules to be ditched by the end of March as part of the UK’s plan to ‘live with the virus’ like flu.

The report, used by ministers to guide Covid policy, is normally published on Friday – but its release was moved while infections run at unprecedented levels. 

The ONS said the proportion of children aged two to 11 in England who were infected increased for a second week in a row, while cases among 12 to 16-year-olds are now also on the rise. 

However, infections among all other age groups are still declining, according to the statisticians. 

All parts of England are seeing a drop in case rates, apart from the South West, where the trend in cases is uncertain, the ONS said.

Worth reading in full.

Independent SAGE Graph in Viral Tweet Misleading: Omicron Is Mild in Children

In a recent viral tweet, the new German Health Minister, Professor Karl Lauterbach, shared what seems like an alarming graph:

It shows daily Covid hospital admissions in England for all children (i.e., those aged under 18) since the start of the pandemic. Lauterbach wrote:

The UK data shows alarming levels in children. Since Omicron can be warded off well by masks, mask requirements in school and regular testing are absolutely necessary.

Incidentally, the graph itself was produced by Independent SAGE – the group that’s like SAGE, only more pessimistic about Covid and more in favour of restrictions (and not an official Government advisory body).

So, what should we make of Lauterbach’s tweet? One of the stylised facts of the pandemic is that Covid poses almost no risk to children. Has this ceased to be true in the era of Omicron? No, fortunately it has not.

One reason that Covid hospital admissions for children shot up in late December is simple: infections shot up at around the same time (in the first week of January, more than 6% of the population tested positive). And when more people in the general population are infected, the number of people admitted to hospital with Covid will rise.

Under simple assumptions, if the percentage of the population that’s infected jumps from 1% to 6%, then so should the fraction of people admitted to hospital with Covid.

Another possible reason Covid hospital admissions for children shot up – suggested by Professor Russell Viner of UCL – is that Omicron has a greater impact in the upper airways, which are smaller in young children. And as others have noted, this feature also makes Omicron less deadly.

Yet another reason, notes the FT, is the introduction of treatment guidelines requiring babies who develop fever to be put under hospital observation.

Indeed, a new study from the U.S. confirms that Omicron is less deadly than Delta – even in young children. Lindsey Wang and colleagues compared two cohorts of under 5s: those who caught Covid for the first time during the Delta wave, and those who caught it for the first time during the Omicron wave.

Wales and Scotland Loosen Restrictions – But Very, Very Slowly

Wales abandoned its tough stance on Covid today as its self-isolation period was cut to five days in the face of plummeting reported infections, while Scotland axed work-from-home guidance. MailOnline has more.

From Friday [in Wales] people will be able to end their isolation as long as they have two negative lateral flow tests on days five and six.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan confirmed the changes would come into force from January 28th, the same day the country is expected to complete the move to alert level zero.

It will bring the nation in line with the measures already in place in England and Northern Ireland.

And it comes the day after Nicola Sturgeon drastically softened Scotland’s Covid rules, including ending working from home guidance. …

Scottish First Minister Sturgeon bowed to pressure to axe working from home rules last night as she revealed a ‘phased’ return to the office for millions of Scots. 

She told MSPs the Scottish Government is updating its guidance to take effect from next Monday.  

Ms Sturgeon has said a requirement for two-metre physical distancing in settings where face coverings are exempt is being reduced to one metre.

The change will apply to settings such as religious services and those carrying out receptionist duties.

Updating MSPs at Holyrood yesterday, the First Minister also announced a change affecting organised activities for children.

She said: “From Friday, face coverings will no longer be required for any adult taking part in organised activities when they are directly interacting with children under the age of five.”

The requirement for secondary school pupils to wear face masks will receive “careful consideration”.

Slow progress in the right direction, but still struggling to let go it seems.

Worth reading in full.

The Rich Get Richer as the Great Green Rush Gets Rolling

Earlier this week, Aviva Investors boss Mark Versey sent his annual letter to company ‘chairpersons’ claiming that the planet faces the “Sixth Great Extinction” and there has been an “alarming” 68% decrease in species in the 46 years to 2016. Extinctions on this scale would be truly alarming, except that the claim is untrue. Meanwhile, the so-called Sixth Great Extinction is a WWF green activist hobbyhorse, with little support among scientists – Versey linked his comments to a WWF report that in fact noted a “68% decrease in population” of various mammals, birds and fish between 1970-2016.

Easily done, mixing up population numbers and actual extinction, although warning bells should have sounded about a ridiculous suggestion that nearly seven in ten Earth species had disappeared in just over four decades. Needless to say, the BBC faithfully repeated the error. Even the alarmist UN 2019 report on biodiversity could only suggest that one million animal and plant species were “threated” with extinction at some undefined date in the future. Given that 99.9% of all species that have ever lived on Earth are extinct, this looks a more reasonable bet. On the actual extinction front, the report did find that 680 vertebrates had disappeared since the 16th century. One must hope that Mr. Versey’s due diligence is more sound when he comes to investing some of the £250 billion of investment funds under his company’s control.

It seemingly doesn’t matter what green inaccuracies are pumped into the public space since an enormous ‘green rush’ gathers pace by the day. A recent book by Dr. Susan Crockford called “Fallen Idol” revisits the notorious 2019 WWF/Netflix collaboration featuring the falling walruses episode of “Our Planet”. Filmed falling off a cliff, in slow motion for maximum effect, Sir David Attenborough attributed the horrific scenes to “climate change”, despite a pack of nearby polar bears providing a more obvious explanation.

Introducing his film, which Crockford describes as “animal tragedy porn”, to the rich and influential elites gathered at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Sir David commented: “If people can truly understand what is at stake, I believe they will give permission to businesses and governments to get on with practical solutions”.

In the U.K., the true Net Zero cost of such “practical solutions” are starting to be understood, with energy prices set to soar and general inflation starting to rise alarmingly. Green levies on electricity alone are set to rise from £11 billion this year to around £15 billion by 2026. Renewable subsidies support the 25% of energy provided by unreliable renewables, solar and wind. Since such electricity provides only 3% of total UK energy needs, phasing out fossil fuels and replacing them largely from these sources will, at current rates of subsidy, require a majority of the tax that is currently levied on the entire British economy.

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