Is Jonathan Sumption being wilfully blind? I ask this because I’ve always identified with the libertarian/Sumption wing of lockdown scepticism. Certainly, my principal objection to Covid policies has been the denial of individual rights and freedoms. For listeners of London Calling, think of me as Team Toby rather than Team James.
Jonathan Sumption was very sound on the issue of lockdowns, but he’s been far less strident in objecting to the Government’s coercive behaviour when it came to vaccination. He has now written an article in the Telegraph that lays the blame for excess deaths at the door of the NHS’s failure to pick up and treat principally cancers during the lockdowns. My objection to his thesis is that it’s wrong.
But the contribution of lockdowns to long-term excess deaths from other causes is becoming increasingly obvious.
The clearest case is cancer.
I agree with him that the lockdowns caused untold harm to people’s physical and mental health. But I worry that this diagnosis – ‘it’s the lockdowns wot done it’ – plays a little too neatly into the Government narrative of laying the blame on the effective shutdown of the NHS during the lockdowns, when it seems all too likely that the real fault lies with the Government’s abdication of responsibility to the ‘blob’, and the bio-medical tyranny that followed.
I don’t wholly blame the vaccines for excess deaths. Sweden vaccinated a higher proportion of its population than we have, yet we don’t see such high levels of excess death there. However, the deaths of Lisa Shaw and many others are directly attributable to the vaccines. Clearly, the vaccines have killed some people who, in the absence of vaccination would not have died. Sumption’s article ignores both vaccination and the coercive measures adopted to get people vaccinated, which meant that far more people than was ever warranted found themselves taking under-tested vaccines.
This article tests some of Sumption’s assumptions.
Let’s start by looking at excess cancer deaths over the past 33 months.
Figure 1 is taken from the Office for Health Improvements and Disparities’ interactive website (a brilliant resource, hats off to the wonks who produced it). It shows excess cancer deaths right through the pandemic period and up to the end of 2022. During this period, it was expected that we’d see 433,149 cancer deaths. In the event, 441,768 cancer deaths were registered – 8,619, or 2%, more than were expected. Tough if one of those extra deaths is you, but in the grand scheme of things not a figure to generate much alarm.
Figure 2 shows excess cancer deaths for just 2022. They were less than 1% above the expected rate.
Professor Angus Dalgleish has stated that mRNA vaccines seem to be causing or reactivating dormant cancers. Cancers tend to be pretty slow burn, there may be a wave of cancer deaths coming down the track, but as yet fatality rates don’t reflect this. Jonathan Sumption’s assumption that cancer is the main driver of excess deaths is evidently wrong.
Before going on, let’s just test the assumption that all-cause mortality was indeed higher than expected in 2022. Figure 3 shows all-cause U.K. excess deaths over the past year. You can see that in the second half of 2022, excess deaths were running in the range of 10%-20%, clearly, breaking the 20% barrier in the last couple of weeks of the year. Contrast those figures to the cancer deaths (shown in figure 2) in December 2022, which are significantly below the expected level. Cancer didn’t contribute much to excess deaths.
Figure 4 demonstrates that the U.K. isn’t alone in seeing excess deaths, in fact we’re about mid table. Just to give a bit of context to the chart in figure 4, I’ve added a right-hand scale showing approximately what the excess level of deaths means in terms of all-cause deaths. It varies country to country, but as a rule of thumb about 1% of the population die in any year. That’s 10,000 per million, so excess deaths of 1,000 per million represents about a 10% increase in expected deaths. So, whatever is driving excess deaths, and we know it’s not Covid, is having an impact in multiple countries.
In addition to cancer, Sumption points the finger at Alzheimer’s and ischaemic heart disease. He writes: “Cancer is far from being the only issue. Excess deaths from ischaemic heart and Alzheimer’s disease rose rapidly during the lockdowns and have continued high.”
Let’s see how deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s compare to expected levels. There were 270,172 such deaths over the past three years, compared to expected deaths of 261,081. Excess deaths were 9,091, or 3.3%, more than expected. If we look at dementia and Alzheimer’s for just 2022 we see that there were 7,527 fewer deaths than were expected. So, all-cause excess deaths weren’t being driven by dementia and Alzheimer’s.
If it wasn’t cancer, dementia or Alzheimer’s, what about Sumption’s final option of ischaemic heart disease? Figure 6 shows the data from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities website for all cardiovascular disease, ischaemic heart disease and heart failure. Over the past three years, deaths from heart related diseases have been about 14% higher than expected.
Figure 7 shows deaths from heart failure for just 2022. Certainly, deaths from heart failure are significantly elevated, getting on for 15% above the expected level.
Where does this lead us? Indeed, where does it leave Jonathan Sumption? Figure 8 uses data from the Office for Health Improvements and Disparities to rank the largest to smallest contributors to excess deaths in 2022. All-cause cardiovascular deaths and other circulatory diseases are out in front. The catch-all terms are primarily made up of heart disease and ischaemic heart disease.
Cancer, chronic respiratory disease and dementia have had the least impact on excess deaths.
A 15% increase in heart failure is significant but it isn’t Armageddon. Team James conspiracy theorists may still hold out, but this doesn’t look like genocide. Of course, the jury is still out on what the longer-term consequences will be for cancer. But to date, cancer deaths appear to have been remarkably normal.
Looking at the data, the claims and counter claims, it’s also undeniable that there is a lot of ‘noise’ in the data. In 2020 and early 2021, undoubtedly, Covid claimed many victims who were very ill with one of these comorbidities. In addition, conditions such as urinary tract infections were exacerbated by the lockdowns. Trying to identify cause and effect will continue to be debated.
While Chris Whitty has attempted to place the blame on the failure of the NHS to prescribe enough statins and other medications during the lockdowns, Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson have queried whether there has been a significant reduction in statins, and have further demonstrated that any reductions in statins has had minimal impact on deaths.
Jonathan Sumption, along with Chris Whitty, has done his best not to see the elephant in the room. But while the vaccines aren’t wiping out whole swathes of the population, we know that they can cause heart problems, and it’s heart problems that are the biggest cause of excess deaths. It’s time this was addressed.
Stop Press: Toby Green and Thomas Fazi, authors of the The Covid Consensus, have done an analysis of excess deaths across Europe for UnHerd. After considering all the usual suspects, they conclude:
Finally, there is one possible explanation that has to be considered, at least as a contributing factor for the rise in non-Covid excess deaths: the role of the vaccines, in particular those from Pfizer and Moderna that use the new mRNA technology. This is a hyper-polarising issue, so let’s start with what we know: the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are associated with a higher risk of developing myocarditis (heart inflammation), especially in younger males (possibly due to the spike protein generated by the vaccine circulating in the blood), and other serious adverse events such as blood clots. This is confirmed by a number of studies (see, for example, here, here, here, here, and here) and even by the CDC’s own data. There is quite a lot of variability between the studies, but they appear to suggest that, with young people, the risk from the vaccine may well outweigh the risk from Covid or from post-Covid myocarditis.
That said, proving a connection between vaccine-related harms and the disproportionately high number of young people dying at the moment is not straightforward. However, a number of studies — such as a recent analysis by Martin Neil, professor of computer science and statistics at Queen Mary University in London, and Norman Fenton, a mathematician and leading expert on risk assessment and statistics — do show a statistically significant correlation between vaccination rates and excess mortality.
To what extent this correlation actually implies causation does, of course, remain unclear. But just as lockdowns are clearly a factor, it seems unwise to rule out the vaccines as a contributing factor without proper investigation — the point is that we simply don’t know, as we don’t have enough data to establish or disprove a link. Ultimately, the causes of the excess deaths are probably varied, and involve a combination of factors. This shouldn’t be surprising, since lockdowns and vaccines were always connected in the pandemic response. But we shall never know for sure if we don’t start asking these uncomfortable questions — especially when our politicians and public-health experts seem reluctant to do so themselves.
Worth reading in full.
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