Vaccines

Vaccine Safety Update

This is the 14th 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 13th 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.) 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 October 14th, the MHRA Yellow Card reporting system has recorded a total of 1,228,991 events based on 372,878 reports. The total number of fatalities reported is 1,719.

  • Pfizer (22.7 million first doses, 19.8 million second doses) now has one Yellow Card in 188 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 40,391 people vaccinated (562).
  • AstraZeneca (24.9 million first doses, 24 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 106 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 22,514 people vaccinated (1,106).
  • Moderna (1.5 million first doses, 1.2 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 90 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 75,000 people vaccinated (20).

Overall, one in every 132 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.

The Flaw in the New ZOE Study Showing Vaccine Protection Better Than Natural Immunity

The ZOE Covid Study App (which recently changed its estimates again, which doesn’t exactly instil confidence) released a study earlier in the month (or rather a press release with no link to an actual study) which claimed natural immunity following infection “only gave 65% protection against catching it again”. This compared to 71% protection from the AstraZeneca vaccine (rising to 90% for those who had tested positive for Covid before) and 87% protection from the Pfizer vaccine (rising to 95% for the previously test-positive). The researchers say the results came from during the U.K. Delta wave.

This is a surprisingly low estimate for the protection given by natural immunity. Other estimates have tended to be more like 80% against testing positive and 90% against symptomatic infection. A recent study from Israel (not yet peer-reviewed) found natural immunity was 13 times better than Pfizer vaccination at preventing PCR positives during the Delta surge and 27 times better at preventing symptomatic infection.

The ZOE result is similar, however, to a recent (very flawed) study based on the ONS infection survey, which claimed to find just 55% protection from natural infection. A similarly flawed study from Oxford University, also based on the ONS survey, found natural infection just 66% effective.

The main problem with the ZOE study is that it only looks at infections from May and June 2021. This was mostly a time of very low prevalence, though with the beginnings of the Delta surge occurring in the latter half.

Infection Rate in Vaccinated People in Their 40s Now More Than DOUBLE the Rate in Unvaccinated, PHE Data Shows, as Vaccine Effectiveness Hits Minus-109%

In the latest Vaccine Surveillance report from Public Health England (PHE) the infection rate in double-vaccinated people in their 40s went above 100% higher than in the unvaccinated for the first time, reaching 109%. This translates to an unadjusted vaccine effectiveness of minus-109%.

Vaccine effectiveness continues to drop fast in all over-18s (see chart at top), hitting minus-85% for those in their 50s, minus-88% for those in their 60s and minus-79% for those in their 70s. (For definitions and discussion of limitations see here.)

Vaccine Safety Update

This is the 13th 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 12th 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.) 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 October 7th, the MHRA Yellow Card reporting system has recorded a total of 1,222,566 events based on 370,574 reports. The total number of fatalities reported is 1,698.

  • Pfizer (22.9 million first doses, 19.6 million second doses) now has one Yellow Card in 189 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 41,486 people vaccinated (552).
  • AstraZeneca (24.9 million first doses, 24 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 106 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 22,698 people vaccinated (1,097).
  • Moderna (1.4 million first doses, 0.7 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 84 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 73,684 people vaccinated (19).

Overall, one in every 132 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.

No, Covid is Not Unusually Deadly for Pregnant Women

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) was in the news yesterday encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated against Covid by quoting new data showing that “nearly 20% of the most critically ill COVID-19 patients are pregnant women who have not been vaccinated”. According to their website:

Since July, one in five COVID-19 patients receiving treatment through a special lung-bypass machine were expectant mums who have not had their first jab.

Pregnant women have been treated with a therapy, called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), used only when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by COVID-19 that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels.

Out of all women between the ages of 16 and 49 on ECMO in intensive care, pregnant women make up almost a third (32%) – up from just 6% at the start of the pandemic, March 2020.

The numbers from ICNARC back up the claim that pregnant and recently pregnant women have been admitted to ICU with a positive Covid test in greater numbers during the Delta surge than previously.

Fact-Checking the Fact Checkers

One of my recent posts on the Daily Sceptic was the subject of a ‘fact check‘ by Full Fact, which self-importantly describes itself as “the UK’s independent fact checking organisation” but is in fact funded by Google, Facebook and George Soros, among others, to help them suppress unapproved news and views. Even U.K. broadcasting regulator Ofcom has said it relies on the organisation to tell it what to censor regarding COVID-19, so unfortunately the dog has teeth and can’t just be ignored as one more absurd website with excessive faith in its own infallibility.

The post in question, from September 10th, simply reported on Public Health England’s latest Vaccine Surveillance report, which included infection rates by vaccination status for the previous month so allowed the calculation of an unadjusted estimate of vaccine effectiveness. Full Fact, however, took exception to the idea that vaccine effectiveness can be estimated in this way, because it wasn’t adjusted for confounders. Or used the wrong population data. Or because the article included the (entirely accurate) claim that the PHE report showed higher infection rates in the vaccinated in some age groups. Or because the heading didn’t include ‘caveats’. Or something. In any case, it was ‘incorrect’.

Here follows my correspondence with them, attempting to explain that the factual errors lay entirely in their ‘fact check’, not in my piece.

New Lancet Study Confirms Plummeting Vaccine Effectiveness

A study appeared in the Lancet this week confirming that vaccine effectiveness against infection is fading fast.

The study involved 3,436,957 people over the age of 12 who are members of the healthcare organisation Kaiser Permanente Southern California. It sought to assess the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19-related hospital admissions for up to six months, with a study period covering December 14th, 2020, to August 8th, 2021.

Comparing fully vaccinated to unvaccinated, and controlling for confounders such as prior infection, the researchers found that effectiveness against infection plummeted from 88% (95% confidence interval 86-89%) during the first month after double-vaccination to 47% (43-51%) after five months. The variation by age (depicted above) was largely within the margins of error.

Among sequenced infections, the researchers found vaccine effectiveness against Delta infection was 93% (85-97%) during the first month after double-vaccination but dropped to 53% (39-65%) after four months. Effectiveness against infection from other variants the first month after double-vaccination was 97% (95-99%), but declined to 67% (45-80%) at 4-5 months.

Pfizer vaccine effectiveness by Covid variant

Deaths Among Teenagers Up 56% Since Vaccine Roll-Out Began

A post on the Daily Exposé on Thursday showed concerning statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicating that deaths among teenagers over the summer have increased significantly on the previous year, coinciding with the vaccine roll-out.

I dug into the data a bit and I have to say I agree that it looks worrying. I’ve plotted above the deaths among 15-19 year-olds by week for 2020 and 2021. (Unfortunately the equivalent data isn’t available for previous years as prior to 2020 the breakdown was into 1-14 and 15-44 year-olds.)

The marked divergence around week 23 broadly corresponds to when the vaccination programme among the age group was being ramped up, as indicated below.

Premier League to Reward Clubs with Highest Numbers of Vaccinated Players

Amid concerns of a low vaccine uptake among professional footballers, the Premier League has sent a briefing note to all 20 clubs outlining that the body might reward teams for making sure their players are double jabbed. What these potential incentives may be remains unclear. In addition, the Premier League has cited concerns over international travel and the likelihood of vaccine passports being introduced in the near future. The Mail has the story.

The Premier League has written to clubs informing them of plans to “reward” teams who have the highest numbers of vaccinated players

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante was confirmed on Tuesday as the latest player to contract Covid, forcing him to miss his side’s Champions League clash against Juventus on Wednesday night. 

And Sportsmail can reveal that in a briefing note sent to clubs last week, the Premier League are stepping up their efforts to ensure more players are fully vaccinated due to fears over a slow uptake.

The document read: “According to the data we have, only seven clubs’ squads are more than 50% fully vaccinated, so we have a way to go.”

Sportsmail revealed last week that at least two Premier League sides have no more than six players vaccinated.

But Wolves, Brentford and Leeds have reported between 89 and 100% vaccination levels and there is growing optimism that the figures at other clubs will increase in the coming weeks.

The note continued: “We are considering if and how best we can ‘reward’ those squads/players who are most Covid-compliant and who have opted to be vaccinated.

“It is increasingly clear that full vaccination will be the key criteria for Government and health authorities, in terms of international travel and potential Covid certification at large scale events.”

Worth reading in full.

YouTube to Advance its Crack-Down on Vaccine “Misinformation”

YouTube says it will soon remove any content that argues the Covid vaccine can cause serious side-effects and is unsafe to use. Matt Halprin, the Global Head of Trust and Safety at the Google-owned company, is alarmed by the presence of “vaccine misinformation” across the world. For example, vaccine scepticism relating to concerns over infertility will be struck from the platform. Guardian has the story.

From Wednesday, the video streaming site, which has already banned Covid jab falsehoods, will take down content that claims any approved vaccine is dangerous and causes chronic health defects. Under previous guidelines, the platform demoted – effectively hiding from view – videos that spread misinformation about non-Covid vaccines or promoted vaccine hesitancy.

Last year, YouTube implemented a ban on Covid vaccine misinformation videos, which has led to 130,000 pieces of content being taken down since then. YouTube, which is owned by Google, has removed a total of 1m videos for spreading general Covid falsehoods since the pandemic broke out.

Matt Halprin… said vaccine misinformation was a global problem and had spilled over from the spreading of falsehoods about Covid jabs.

“Vaccine misinformation appears globally, it appears in all countries and cultures,” he said.

Halprin added that falsehoods around the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which has been wrongly attributed to causing autism, were an example of the misinformation YouTube will target.

“There is still a lot of challenges around MMR and people arguing whether that causes autism. And as we know, the science is very stable that vaccines do not cause autism,” he said.

Worth reading in full.