Covid deaths

More Reasons to Doubt the Covid Vaccines Really Deliver 90% Protection Against Death

The UKHSA’s latest vaccine surveillance report includes this table on page 11:

Fig 1

In essence, it claims ongoing efficacy against death from COVID-19 at about 88% following three vaccinations for the over 50 year-olds. Does this mean that in the absence of the vaccines we would expect deaths of the triple-vaccinated to be 8.3 times higher than it has been? Let’s assemble some data from Government sources and see if this can really be true.

Up until week 13 2022, the UKHSA used to report deaths from Covid by age and vaccine status. Fig 2 reproduces this last data table. The absolute numbers may have changed in the five weeks since then but the relative rates of death in the various groups had been fairly stable for the weeks prior to this and I suspect they still are.

Covid Infections Continue to Plummet – as ONS Data Suggest Omicron BA.2 May Be Half as Deadly as BA.1

Covid levels continued to drop in England last week, falling to their lowest levels since the start of December before Omicron took off. MailOnline has more.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates 1.2 million, or one in 45 people, were carrying the virus on any given day in the week to May 7th, down a quarter on the previous week.

It marks the fifth week in a row that the ONS’s weekly infection survey – now the best barometer of the outbreak – has reported a week-on-week fall in cases, despite no Covid restrictions being in place.

The Government is relying on the study, based on swabs of 120,000 random people, to track the virus now that free testing has been axed for the vast majority of Britons.

Today’s estimate for England is the lowest since the week ending December 16th, when 1.2m people were also estimated to have been infected. At that point, the Omicron strain was just starting to take off and in the following weeks there were mounting calls to follow some EU countries in enforcing another lockdown.

Ministers also resisted renewed calls from NHS bosses for tougher restrictions last month when the BA.2 variant, an off-shoot of Omicron, pushed rates to record-highs.

Meanwhile, the ONS estimates one in 35 people were carrying Covid in Wales and Scotland last week and one in 55 in Northern Ireland. 

It’s good to see the Mail drawing attention to the fact that these declines happen without the need for restrictions. Interesting that Scotland is doing worse than England despite keeping masks and vaccine passports in place for longer.

Modellers Predict 1.5 Million Deaths in China if Lockdown is Lifted – But that is Less Than Half the U.K. Covid Death Rate

It appears that China has its own version of lockdown doom-modeller Neil Ferguson and his team. A paper in Nature from a team of Chinese and U.S. researchers has used a model to predict over 1.5 million deaths in China from Omicron should the country cease to impose its brutal controls. The following is from the South China Morning Post.

China could see more than 1.5 million deaths from a wave of Omicron infections without COVID-19 controls and the use of antiviral therapies, a new study has forecast.

A model by Chinese and U.S. researchers suggested that, given China’s vaccine efficacy and coverage, an unchecked outbreak that began with 20 cases of Omicron in March could “generate a tsunami of COVID-19 cases” between May and July.

Such an outbreak is projected to cause 112 million symptomatic cases, or 80 cases per 1,000 people, with 2.7 million of them requiring treatment in intensive care…

The researchers used a mathematical model to simulate a hypothetical Omicron wave in China based on data from the Shanghai outbreak.

“Should the Omicron outbreak continue unabated, despite a primary vaccination coverage of more than 90% and homologous booster vaccination [boosting with the same vaccine] coverage of more than 40% as of March 2022, we project that the Chinese healthcare system will be overwhelmed with a considerable shortage of ICUs,” they wrote.

They estimated that the peak demand of 1 million intensive care beds would be almost 16 times the existing total of 64,000 beds, with a shortage lasting 44 days.

Why Did Non-Covid Deaths Spike at the End of April?

Excess deaths in England and Wales at the end of April shot up to 21% above average, after hovering around zero or below since the start of the Omicron wave, ONS data show.

There were 2,163 excess deaths in the week ending April 29th, the most recent week for which data are available. However, there were 1,125 Covid deaths, a similar number to the previous week’s figure of 1,042, leaving a sudden spike of 1,038 non-Covid excess deaths. Covid deaths were a similar proportion of total deaths in each of the two weeks: 9.0% in the most recent week and 9.8% the previous week.

The ONS report says the spike may be related to the bank holidays delaying registration: “The number of deaths registered in week ending April 29th is affected by the bank holidays in the previous weeks; similar patterns have been seen in past years in the weeks following the Easter bank holidays.”

So is it just a blip caused by recording delays, or does the fact that Covid deaths don’t seem to be similarly affected, as one might expect for registration issues, suggest something real? One to watch.

WHO Estimates of India’s Covid Deaths Are Highly Suspect

On May 5th, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a new report estimating global excess deaths at 14.9m for two years of the pandemic 2020-21 as the true COVID-19 mortality toll, nearly triple the official toll of 5.44m. “Excess mortality” is the difference between the number of deaths that would be expected in any time period based on data from earlier years and the number of deaths that have occurred. For countries with robust data surveillance, reporting and recording systems, this poses no real difficulty. Unfortunately, these conditions are not met in many countries. Therefore their excess mortality can only be estimated and the accuracy is a function of the reliability of the methodology and modelling used in the exercise. Given the overwhelming evidence about the flaws and deficiencies of Covid-related modelling over the last two years, and the damage caused by governments trusting modelling projections over real-world data, this should immediately throw up a forest of red flags about the WHO report.

A second reason to be sceptical is the less than stellar role of the WHO in its well-known Covid-related deference to China, the abandonment of its own summary of the state of the art science on managing pandemics from October 2019, its willingness to manipulate definitions of ‘herd immunity’ in relation to vaccines and natural immunity in order to fit with the experimental pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) that came to dominate Covid policy around the world, and its self-interest in expanding its budget, authority and role in steering global health policies and management by means of a new international treaty.

WHO’s Dubious Model that Claims the Real Pandemic Death Toll is 15 Million – and 5 Million of Them Are in India

First we had the Economist claiming to be able to work out how many had really died in the pandemic, then the Lancet joined in. Now it’s the turn of the World Health Organisation. While the Economist and Lancet claim the true toll is around 18 million (though find a very different distribution across countries), the WHO goes for 15 million. Once more we find that the (massive) gaps in reported data are filled in with modelling: “The methods rely on a statistical model derived using information from countries with adequate data; the model is used to generate estimates for countries with little or no data available.”

The estimates for India are particularly inflated and have drawn sharp criticism from the Indian Government. The WHO claims that India experienced 3,400 deaths per million over the two years (note the figures quoted in most reports as WHO estimates for 2020-21 are an average of the two years), which amounts to 4.69 million total deaths – almost a third of the global total. That’s nearly 10 times more than India’s official Covid death toll.

India’s official Covid death toll in 2020 is 148,994. The Government said this week that its official estimate of additional deaths in 2020 compared to 2019 is 474,806, which is 3.2 times higher than the official Covid toll. It hasn’t yet provided its estimate for additional deaths in 2021, but we know that the official Covid death toll for 2021 is 332,492. If we assume the same degree of undercounting then the number of additional deaths in 2021 would be 1.06 million. (Note that India has around 10 million deaths each year, so this represents about a 10% excess mortality in 2021.) Adding the two together gives 1.54 million additional deaths for 2020 and 2021. The WHO’s estimate of 4.69 million is three times higher than this. No wonder the Indian Government is disputing the findings.

No, the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson Vaccines Are Not a Miracle Cure for Heart Disease

There’s been a lot of excitement recently about a Danish study published as a pre-print in the Lancet that analysed trial data and claimed to find adenovirus-vector Covid vaccines such as AstraZeneca (AZ) and Johnson and Johnson (J&J) reduced overall mortality by around 63% and cardiovascular mortality in particular by around 99%. The study authors note it appears these vaccines “provide significant protection” against cardiovascular disease, and speculate this may be because the adenovirus vector, though not able to replicate, “may prime the immune system in a way similar to a ‘live’ vaccine”. How this might protect against cardiovascular disease is not explained.

The study has been reported at sceptical sites such as the Brownstone Institute, TCW Defending Freedom and Bad Cattitude. Each asks whether people have been given the “wrong vaccine”, in that while the trial data for the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) did not show any mortality benefit, those for the adenovirus vaccines showed considerable and, importantly, statistically significant benefit.

I reported on the study earlier in the month, expressing scepticism about the supposed benefits of the adenovirus-vector vaccines for non-Covid mortality.

Anti-Lockdown Florida and South Dakota Among Best Pandemic Performers, Pro-Lockdown New York and California Among Worst, Study Finds

Lockdown-loving states New York and California are among the worst overall pandemic performers while freedom-loving states Florida and South Dakota are among the best, new research by a leading U.S. think tank has found.

A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research has scored and ranked U.S. states by their performance over the past two years on three measures – health, economy and education – before combining them into a composite score and overall rank.

The paper, entitled “A Final Report Card on the States’ Response to COVID-19“, is written by Casey B. Mulligan, Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago, Phil Kerpen, President of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation. It is a follow-up to the preliminary report card the authors published in October 2020.

For economic performance the authors used two measures: unemployment and GDP by state. For education they used a single metric: the percentage of schools that stayed open in 2020-21 as tracked by Burbio (with hybrid instruction weighted half). For mortality they used two measures: Covid-associated deaths reported to the CDC and all-cause excess mortality.

Covid Vaccines Increase Risk of Heart-Related Deaths by Up to 50%, Lancet Analysis of Trial Data Finds

A preprint study (not yet peer-reviewed) in the Lancet has analysed the mortality data from the vaccine trials and made the shocking finding that mRNA vaccines had “no effect on overall mortality”. Worse, it found the risk of non-Covid, non-accident mortality actually increased by 17% (relative risk 1.17, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.67-2.05). Furthermore, a full 50% of the non-Covid deaths (27 out of 54) were cardiovascular and the relative risk of such death was 45% higher in the vaccine arm (relative risk 1.45, CI 0.67-3.13), breaking down to 50% higher for Pfizer and 40% higher for Moderna (with wide confidence intervals).

These are clearly alarming findings. But they go oddly unremarked upon in the paper. This is presumably due to the authors being wary of criticising the vaccines in order to be published. If so, it is disappointing that this is thought (probably correctly) to be necessary and indicates how absurdly political vaccine research has become. While the results are not, in this study, statistically significant, in that the confidence intervals are wide and include 1.0, the effect size is large and, in the context of wider concerns about adverse effects of mRNA vaccines on the cardiovascular system, warrant some comment, if only to flag them up and say larger studies are needed to see if statistical significance obtains.

The focus of the paper is instead on the surprising finding that the adenovirus-vector vaccines (e.g. AstraZeneca and J&J) appear significantly to reduce overall mortality. Most strikingly, there are zero cardiovascular deaths in the vaccine arm versus five in the placebo arm. The relative risk of non-accident, non-Covid death is 62% lower in the vaccine arm than the placebo arm (relative risk 0.38 CI 0.17-0.88). Overall mortality is 63% down.

The authors note it appears the adenovirus-vector vaccines “provide significant protection” against cardiovascular disease, speculating that the adenovirus-vector, though not able to replicate, “may prime the immune system in a way similar to a ‘live’ vaccine”. How this might protect against cardiovascular disease is not explained.

Vaccinated Have Up To SIX Times the Infection Rate of Unvaccinated, New Zealand Government Data Show

New Zealand is a fascinating country – amazing geography, likeable population, and, unlike its neighbour Australia, most of its wildlife isn’t planning on killing you at the slightest opportunity. It is also fascinating with respect to Covid because its population has a very high vaccination rate across all age groups (well, down to five), but up until recently there has been negligible natural immunity to Covid. Because of these two factors, New Zealand was always going to be of interest as soon as Covid arrived properly, if only to see how its vaccination efforts had protected its population.

For those who missed it, since the end of last year New Zealand has had a succession of Covid waves. These started small, but in the most recent wave, taking place during February and March, infection rates were enormous – if we had these infection rates in the U.K. we’d have peaked at approximately 350,000 cases per day (rather than around 200,000). What’s more, it looks like New Zealand exceeded its testing capacity during that wave, suggesting that peak infections were probably even higher.  It is relevant to note that during February and March, New Zealand had over 90% of all the cases it has ever had and most of the rest occurred in January – prior to 2022 New Zealand reported very few Covid infections.

So much for the Covid vaccines protecting against infection – but what do the data look like in detail?