Vaccine

UKHSA Efficacy Stats Death Watch: Week 48

We’re republishing a post this morning by the German Substacker who calls himself ‘Eugyppius’. Looks like he’s been kicked off Twitter – shock! You can subscribe to his Substack email newsletter here.

Not much has changed in the UKHSA Week 48 Covid vaccine surveillance report. Cases by vaccination status:

We see continued improvement in infection rates in the 80+ vaccinated cohort, extending to the those in their 70s as well. This is very likely down to the booster campaign, and it’s more or less what we’d have expected: the vaccines provide protection that after some months appears to decay to the point of negative efficacy. The boosters then bring you back into positive territory, for a time. 

Of course the offending numbers are still greyed out:

While UKHSA objections to the reliability of the relative rates apply to every second column reporting “rates among persons not vaccinated”, you’ll notice they only grey out the statistics that are unfavourable to the vaccines. The other columns, which according to their own arguments are equally unreliable, can be printed in ordinary typeface. 

The new 60-day death rate by vaccination status also shows a slight improvement in the vaccinated 80+ bracket. They’re now doing slightly better than unvaccinated 70 year-olds: 

Finally, the death numbers:

Italian Man Attempts to Fool Vaccine Mandate by Wearing Fake Arm

On Monday, the Italian Government will introduce a ‘super green pass’ system, where those wishing to enter a wide variety of public places must provide proof that they have been vaccinated (or have recently recovered from Covid), replacing the ‘green pass’ policy which permits the unvaccinated into these spaces if they produce a negative Covid test. The incoming law is believed to be the reason for why a middle aged Italian man wished to acquire a Covid vaccination certificate but not receive the injection, placing a fake silicone mould on his arm as a disguise. However, a nurse noticed the trick, and reported the man to the police. BBC News has more.

An Italian man who wanted a Covid vaccination certificate without getting the jab turned up for his vaccine with a fake arm, officials say.

The man, in his 50s, arrived for his shot with a silicone mould covering his real arm, hoping it would go unnoticed.

But a nurse was not fooled and the man has now been reported to the police.

The nurse told local media that when she had rolled up his sleeve, she found the skin “rubbery and cold” and the pigment “too light”.

After being discovered, the man tried to persuade the nurse to turn a blind eye, la Repubblica reported. But instead she reported him to the police for fraud.

Local police are now investigating the incident in Biella, north-west Italy, and local officials have criticised the man’s actions.

“The case borders on the ridiculous, if it were not for the fact we are talking about a gesture of enormous gravity,” the head of the Piedmont regional Government, Albert Cirio, said in a statement on Facebook.

He said the ploy was “unacceptable faced with the sacrifice that our entire community has paid during the pandemic, in terms of human lives, the social and economic cost”.

La Repubblica suggests the incident may not have been a one-off, pointing to a message on social media that may have been written by the man.

The Twitter post quoted by the paper featured a silicone male chest half-body suit, complete with fake arms and neck, that was on sale on Amazon for €488 (£416).

“If I go with this, will they notice? Maybe beneath the silicone I’ll even put on some extra clothes to avoid the needle reaching my real arm,” the Twitter user reportedly wrote.

The incident comes ahead of a tightening of the rules in Italy for those who have not been vaccinated.

Since August, Italians have needed a Covid ‘green pass’ showing proof of vaccination, a negative test or recovery from the virus to access train stations, cinemas, restaurants, gyms and swimming pools.

But from Monday, these activities will be restricted to those with a ‘super green pass’, which is only available to those who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid.

Worth reading in full.

Only the Vaccinated Will Be Allowed Assisted Suicide Services, Says German Euthanasia Association

A German euthanasia group has announced that only the vaccinated will be allowed to access assisted suicide services, as the procedure requires “human closeness” which can allow Covid to spread. The MailOnline has the story.

A German euthanasia group has said clients must be vaccinated against Covid before they can undergo assisted suicide. 

German Euthanasia Association Verein Sterbehilfe has announced prospective clients will have to comply with the country’s 2G rule where premises can choose to deny entry to those who are not vaccinated (‘geimpft‘ in German) or who have recovered (‘genesen‘) from the virus. 

The clinic said euthanasia and preparatory examinations require “human closeness” meaning that under German law everyone involved must comply with the 2G rule.

“Euthanasia and the preparatory examination of the voluntary responsibility of our members willing to die require human closeness,” the Association said in a statement on November 19th. 

“Human closeness, however, is a prerequisite and breeding ground for Covid transmission. As of today, the 2G rule applies in our association, supplemented by situation-related measures, such as quick tests before encounters in closed rooms.”

It explained the decision was based on the “difficult task of balancing the protection of our members, employees and doctors with the practical organization of our everyday life in the association.”

Around 68% of Germany’s 83 million population are full jabbed and about 10% have had a booster dose but officials have branded a recent surge in cases a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. 

The 2G rule has sparked controversy in Germany, where premises are also given the option of following the 3G rule which means those who can present a negative Covid test can also be served.  

The rules apply to leisure, cultural and sporting events, and hospitality venues as well as to body-related services and hotels. It allows premises imposing the rules to drop mask-wearing and social distancing rules.   

Several million German adults are still not yet vaccinated, and authorities have tried to incentivise them to take the jab through punishing measures such as this.

Worth reading in full.

Has Vaccine Effectiveness Against Death Been Overestimated?

The ‘stylized facts’ concerning vaccine effectiveness against Covid are as follows. First, the vaccines confer strong protection against infection, which peaks about one month after the second dose. However, this protection then wanes over the following five or six months to as low as 20% (or even lower).

Second, the vaccines also confer strong protection against serious illness and death, and this protection wanes much more slowly. Hence, six months vaccination, the vaccinated still have substantial protection against death.

While these stylized facts are approximately right, there’s reason to believe that vaccine effectiveness against death has been overestimated. Note: by ‘overestimated’ I simply mean that effectiveness may be somewhat lower than is claimed, not that effectiveness is zero (or even close to zero).

The reason effectiveness against death may have been overestimated was highlighted in a recent study by the U.S. CDC. Using data on a large cohort of Americans, Stanley Xu and colleagues calculated non-Covid death rates (adjusted for age and sex) among vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.

Their findings are shown in the figure below (taken from the Economist). Notice that, on both charts, the light blue bar is much higher than the other two bars, indicating that non-Covid death rates were substantially higher among the unvaccinated.

The researchers interpreted their results as evidence of vaccine safety. (If the vaccines were very unsafe, you’d expect a lot more non-Covid deaths in the vaccine groups.) However, there’s another implication, which the researchers also acknowledge: people who get vaccinated tend to be healthier and/or more risk-averse than those who don’t.

How do we explain this ‘healthy vaccinee’ effect? There are at least two possibilities. First, some people may be too frail to get vaccinated, due to old age or underlying health conditions. Second, some people may just be inherently healthier/more risk-averse, and as a result may be more likely to get vaccinated and less likely to die of other causes.

The CDC researchers actually attempted to control for the healthy vaccinee effect by selecting unvaccinated persons from among those who’d had at least one flu shot in the last two years. The fact that they still observed a difference in death rates suggests the true effect may be even larger.

While the CDC’s results might be good news from the perspective of vaccine safety, they’re bad news from the perspective of vaccine effectiveness.

Suppose you do a study, and find that the Covid death rate is ten times higher among unvaccinated people than among vaccinated people. That difference could be due to the vaccines. But it could also be due to the fact that vaccinated people are less likely to die for any reason.   

Observational studies of vaccine effectiveness do attempt to control for the healthy vaccinee effect, for example by including some measure of health/frailty as another variable in the analysis. However, these kinds of measures may not capture all the relevant differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Vaccine Effectiveness Remains Negative in 30-79 Year-Olds, Government Data Shows, Despite Boosters Starting to Kick In

The latest UKHSA Vaccine Surveillance report came out yesterday, allowing us to update our estimates of unadjusted vaccine effectiveness. Last week I noted that vaccine effectiveness was stabilising, and this week we can see it rising in the older age groups. Despite this, it is still negative for those aged 30-79, highly so for 40-69 year-olds, and barely positive in the over-80s and 18-29 year-olds.

Part of the reason for the recent rises in the older age groups may be the boosters that have been rolled out since September 20th – you can see a staggered stabilising and then rise across the age groups in the graphs above and below. This means that we are no longer seeing clean data for double-vaccinated versus unvaccinated, as some are triple-vaccinated. The UKHSA report doesn’t include figures for ‘dose three’ and appears to include the triple-jabbed in its ‘received two doses’ category, though oddly does not clarify either way.

The report still claims of course that its data is too biased to be used to estimate vaccine effectiveness, and lists the usual reasons. We await any actual data on the differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations, such as testing rates, seroprevalence and prior Covid positives, that would help to account for these biases.

While the raw data shows infection rates often much higher in the double-vaccinated than the unvaccinated, and a number of studies have shown negligible vaccine effectiveness after six months, the official line is that the vaccines remain positively efficacious. Test-negative case-control studies are often used to demonstrate this, which we criticise here. A recent UKHSA study on boosters put the pre-booster effectiveness at 44.1% for AstraZeneca and 62.5% for Pfizer, five months after dose two. Such estimates must be considered upper bounds, given the biases in the case-control design that seem consistently to inflate vaccine effectiveness estimates.

Can Anything About the Pfizer Vaccine Trial be Trusted?

In a recent article in the BMJ, a whistle-blower exposed serious problems she had observed first-hand in the Pfizer vaccine trial in Texas.

A regional director who was employed at the research organisation Ventavia Research Group has told the BMJ that the company falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events reported in Pfizer’s pivotal phase III trial. Staff who conducted quality control checks were overwhelmed by the volume of problems they were finding. After repeatedly notifying Ventavia of these problems, the regional director, Brook Jackson, emailed a complaint to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ventavia fired her later the same day. Jackson has provided the BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails.

Another Ventavia employee said of the data the company generated for the Pfizer trial: “I don’t think it was good clean data. It’s a crazy mess.”

The six-month trial results for the Pfizer vaccine have now been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. These findings, the researchers note, “contributed to the full approval of BNT162b2 [the Pfizer vaccine] in the United States”. A close inspection of the study, however, reveals a number of problems that raise serious questions about the reliability of its findings, as well as about the safety of the vaccine.

Here is the graph of cumulative incidence for the two trial arms, vaccine and placebo, over the six months of the study period, showing how the symptomatic Covid PCR-positives added up following receipt of the first dose.

Norway Study Finds ZERO Vaccine Effectiveness Against Death for Covid Hospital Patients

A new pre-print study from Norway looking at differences in outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated hospital patients has found that being vaccinated makes zero difference to the risk of dying once hospitalised for COVID-19.

“There was no difference in the adjusted odds of in-hospital death between vaccinated and unvaccinated patients in any age group,” the researchers write. They also observed no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated in the length of hospital stay for patients not admitted to ICU. These findings are adjusted for age and other risk factors so are not simply due to the vaccinated being older or at higher risk (though, as always, the validity of the adjustments may be questioned). The findings also only include patients admitted primarily due to Covid, so aren’t confounded by patients admitted for other reasons who also tested positive at some point.

The researchers did however find that vaccinated patients aged 18-79 had “43% lower odds of ICU admission” and an estimated 26% shorter hospital stay than unvaccinated patients.

It is curious that vaccinated patients were 43% less likely to need ICU but no less likely to die. Did the antibodies from the vaccines just mean that those who were going to fight it off did so a bit more quickly and easily, but the vaccine antibodies weren’t actually able to save anyone who wasn’t going to survive anyway? That appears to be the researchers’ conclusion:

Our results suggest that once hospitalised the risk of death among vaccinated and unvaccinated patients in Norway is similar. However, for survivors the disease trajectory is milder in vaccinated patients, with reduced need for hospital care and organ support.

Vaccine Safety Update

This is the 17th 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 16th 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 has been 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 the vaccine “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 November 4th, the MHRA Yellow Card reporting system has recorded a total of 1,252,679 events based on 380,850 reports. The total number of fatalities reported is 1,739.

  • Pfizer (23.5 million first doses, 20.3 million second doses) now has one Yellow Card in 187 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 40,728 people vaccinated (577).
  • AstraZeneca (24.9 million first doses, 24.1 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 106 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 22,392 people vaccinated (1,112).
  • Moderna (1.5 million first doses, 1.3 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 87 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 83,333 people vaccinated (18).

Overall, one in every 131 people vaccinated (0.76%) have experienced a Yellow Card adverse event. The MHRA has previously estimated that the Yellow Card reporting rate may be approximately 10% of actual figures.

More Than Half of Unvaccinated Americans Declare That Nothing Will Change Their Mind

In a poll conducted in the spring of this year, researchers uncovered that just over 53% of unvaccinated Americans answered that “nothing will change my mind” regarding their decision not to receive the jab. Although the survey was conducted before the announcement and implementation of mandatory vaccination measures, 20% of the U.S. adult population remain unvaccinated. The Mail has the story.

Researchers in Boston, New York and Barcelona surveyed about 6,000 adults, including participants from across the country – roughly 21% of whom said they did not want to receive the Covid vaccine. 

More than half of those respondents said “nothing will change my mind” about the vaccine while 13% said that advice from a family member or close friend might help convince them.

9% said that a recommendation from a family doctor would be beneficial.

Conservatives, people living in poverty, and those who worked outside the home were more likely to be against vaccination, the survey data showed.

The survey was conducted in April 2021, before the Delta variant surge in the U.S., vaccine incentive programs, mandates, and other initiatives. Still, about 20% of U.S. adults remain unvaccinated.

More than 220 million Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine as of November 3rd, representing about two-thirds of the population.

About four in five adults have received at least one dose, as well as almost all seniors at 98%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Younger children – ages five to 11 years old – are now eligible to get vaccinated with Pfizer shots as of this week.

At the same time, more than 20 million Americans have received a booster dose.

While attention is now on boosters and children, the millions of adults who remain unvaccinated are still vulnerable to Covid.

Newly released survey data shed light on the motivations and demographics of those Americans who are opposed to Covid vaccination.

Worth reading in full.

Hide the Vaccine Failure: UKHSA Caves to Pressure and Removes Chart Showing Higher Infection Rates in the Vaccinated – as Effectiveness Hits New Low of Minus-132%

It appears the critics finally got to the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA). The new Vaccine Surveillance report, released on Thursday, has been purged of the offending chart showing infection rates higher in the double-vaccinated than the unvaccinated for all over-30s and more than double the rates for those aged 40-79.

In its place we now have a table similar to the one below that I have been producing for the Daily Sceptic each week (though without the vaccine effectiveness estimates), and a whole lot more explanation and qualification.

Here are our updated charts of unadjusted vaccine effectiveness over time from real-world data in England.