“And when you reach the scene of crime — Macavity’s not there! You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air — But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!”— T. S. Eliot, “Macavity: The Mystery Cat”, Old Possum’s Book of Practical CatsPerhaps the greatest problem facing modern science isn’t the corrupting influence of power and money, but an even deeper one of incomprehensibility. Dr No has touched before on how increasing super-specialisation means that increasingly scientists from one discipline are unable to make sense of another discipline, because the language and theory in each discipline have become so dense as to be impenetrable to all but initiates in that discipline. It is as if science has become a broad church spreading its wings over a vast array of cults and sects, each one swearing allegiance to the Greater God of Science, but each with its own rules and creeds, an impenetrable vista of numberless caverns of knowledge meaningless to man.
With the barrage of political and mainstream media talk of rising covid cases, new scariants and the urgency of vaccinating all, and then some — soon there will be talk of syringe drivers, pumping in covid vaccine in 24/7 — and not to mention Tuesday’s nodding through, not so much on a song and a prayer as on a laugh and a wink, by the blind horses in Westminter, of another six month extension of the Coronavirus Act, there can be little doubt that government is limbering up to implement Plan B. No doubt there is already a Plan C in draft, and so on, to pile Pelion on Ossa, forever and ever, world without end. But how are we really faring with covid these days?
A recent paper, published at the end of last month, did the obvious, a scatter plot of covid vaccination rates against recent cases for 68 countries, and got the sort of plot that looks like a loo pan after it has been used by a person with a particularly bad case of gas powered Montezuma’s revenge. Dots everywhere, but very little focus. Such a scatter plot suggests there is no connection between the variables, or in the case of covid vaccination, it has no discernable effect on case numbers, despite the fact the authors fitted a trend line that suggests a slight increase in case numbers in countries with higher vaccination rates. As ever, we have to remember that cases is a misnomer: they are merely positive PCR tests, that may or may not also be cases, and of course, just as correlation is not proof of causation, so too is the opposite true: lack of correlation is not necessarily proof of no connection. This applies particularly in a cross sectional study such as this, where the epidemiologist’s sword has cut a slice through a single moment in time.
Byzantine formulas unfathomable by man, stretching out beyond five miles of fetid ground, and down to a sunless sea — all very well, but sometimes the simpler analysis better does our pleasure guarantee. The human brain is smarter at spotting a trend in a chart than in a table, and the chart at the top of this post tracks the weekly all cause mortality over the summer, expressed as a percentage difference compared to the average mortality over 2015 to 2019 for the same week, with an added trend line, using ONS data. Anything above the 0% line is excess mortality, and we can see at a glance things are not going well. In fact, we shall all likely be dead pretty soon, if the trend in recent weeks continues. What on earth is going on?
In Germany, in the 1930s, you had to wear a yellow star, if the state deemed you unclean. In Britain, in 2021, a number of leading universities have pretty much done the same thing. The University of Bath’s Student Union, among others taking similar action, has issued coloured wristbands to students indicating covid vaccination status. Those deemed clean will get fast track entry to Freshers’ Week events, while the unclean will have to make alternative arrangements, and suffer segregation at entry, or even be refused entry at all. That a bunch of likely Trotskyite zombies posing as student union officials should dream up a controlling and coercive scheme comes as no surprise; of far greater surprise and concern is the fact — if a student union spokesperson is to be believed — that the “fast-track wristband has been the overwhelmingly popular choice with our students”. It’s a wonder that spokesperson didn’t add that “model individuals will be commended in accordance with regulations, and extensive publicity will be conducted through the news media to create a trustworthy and glorious student opinion atmosphere”. To which Dr No can only add: this time, the turkeys really have voted for Christmas.
Dr No had high hopes that, given recent data published by ONS, PHE and NHS England, on deaths by covid vaccination status and vaccination rates, he would be able to get something of an answer to the vexed question of whether the covid vaccines increase or decrease overall mortality. Fat chance. He quickly found himself wandering on a tundra of statistical quicksand. Key data was missing, and the numbers that were available simply didn’t add up. He spent far more time than he should have done peering up ONS drainpipes and down PHE rabbit holes getting nowhere. It was yet another landscape of cavernous numbers meaningless to man. Nearing desperation, he was about to give up, when it occurred to him that he could make a simple adjustment, and get an answer. This post describes the calculations, including the adjustment — which is not without it problems — and comes to two important conclusions: firstly that covid vaccines may well increase mortality in the short term, and secondly, being unvaccinated does not appear to carry increased mortality risk.
Recent seasons of Call the Midwife have become so sudsy that it can only be a matter of time before a baby disappears down the sluice, lost in soapy foam. Cyril has now got both religion and his girl, Lucille, and radiates joy, like a light bulb. Dr Turner, the GP who cares so much that it hurts, has had his early constant expression of quizzical amusement at the follies of his patients change into one of tortured anguish, as if all the human suffering of Poplar has been etched permanently into his face. Sister Julienne is showing early signs of being subject to a corporate take over — perhaps the writers want to warn us about what is happening to the NHS in 2021 — and Sister Monica Jones has upped her LSD habit, with deleterious consequences for her thought patterns. But even as the levels of Fairy Liquid have increased, the series has remained a true picture of traditional medical and midwifery practice, including, most importantly, tireless and valiant attempts to combat the harmful effects of the inverse care law.
The PCR test is the petrol that keeps the covid pandemic running. It powers almost every aspect of the UK government’s coronavirus dashboard, and more often than not puts the tiger in ONS’s tank. A positive covid PCR result defines covid cases, covid admissions, and, more often than not, covid deaths. Without the PCR test, the pandemic would be like a car that has run out of petrol: stalled, and not going anywhere. Without the PCR test, the mainstream media too would be stalled, having precious little to report. It is, in truth, no exaggeration to say the PCR test is the pandemic, and the pandemic is the PCR test. If there was no PCR test, there would be no pandemic. How curious it is, then, that so very little attention is paid to the reliability of this mysterious fuel that powers the pandemic.
In its efforts to create a troubling and gruesome public opinion atmosphere over covid, the government of People’s Republic of Great Britain have never felt in the least bit shy about inflating the numbers to serve its purposes. Dr No, and a good many other observers, have consistently pointed out the artifice of relying meaningless positive PCR tests to define cases, and of allowing covid to trump the natural underlying cause of death on death certificates. Both conveniently inflate the numbers, such that we might observe that the authorities look at a covid number in the same way that a party organiser looks at a balloon, as something to be inflated. Given flagrant inflation of two of the three main covid numbers, cases and deaths, might it also be the case that the third number, hospitalisations, is also inflated?
What’s the most shocking thing about the chart shown in Figure 1 below, copied from this week’s ONS Weekly Deaths report? It shows the number of excess weekly deaths by place of occurrence, which ONS report from time to time, usually buried in the midriff of the report. For some, the most shocking thing might be the peak in hospital excess deaths in Spring 2020, or in the 2020/2021 winter. For others, it might be the exceptional care home peak that occurred in March and April 2020, a peak Dr No has written about before. But in each of these two settings, the peaks have been offset somewhat by other periods when the number of deaths fell below the number of expected deaths, based on the 2015-2019 average. Perhaps the most shocking thing instead is the consistent excess mortality for deaths occurring in the home. These average out at 891 excess deaths every week over the 76 weeks covered by the chart. For hospitals, the same average is 248, and for care homes it is 312 excess deaths.