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.
Another day, and another tractor production is up paper from the University of AstraZeneca sitting at Oxford. The headline finding reported is that the covid vaccines do cause rare serious complications, but at a lesser rate than covid–19 itself causes the same complications. The mainstream media, including Twiddle and Tweedle on the Today programme, predictably reported the story uncritically, creating what the Chinese call a “trustworthy and glorious public opinion atmosphere“. In reality, the paper has more holes in it than a tramp’s trousers, and stinks about as much, but as is often the case these days, the methodology is wrapped in a statistical miasma, making teasing out what was actually done a challenge. Undeterred, Dr No will take you on a journey that weaves through worm holes, and show why this paper isn’t even fit to make a contribution to a tramp’s bedding, let alone appear in a peer reviewed medical journal.
For some, the odious new normal is yet another malign child of the pandemic. It is the dustpan where the armies of the new normal faithful are swept into obedience, each faithful soldier but a speck of dust swirling in the maelstrom, carried along by the madness of crowds. Each one wears the badge of compliance, a mask: some gaily embroidered and tightly fitted, like a wired brassiere, others black, as if to signal ask not for whom the bell tolls, and yet more the ragged remains of a soiled and stained surgical mask, left dangling from ear or wrist. At the other end of town, covid marshals scan smart phones as visitors to the exhibition centre show their digital covid papers to confirm a recent negative lateral flow test. Never mind the negative test result is meaningless and pointless, because the test has too low a sensitivity to be useful as an enabling test, the exhibition visitors comply, because it is part of the new normal, as is the hand sanitizer semaphore as they go in and out of the store next door. The new normal is a never ending stream of badges, totems, rituals and voodoo that rolls past day in day out, with never an end in sight.
Muppetry, n. the fanatical desire to promote and implement minimum unit pricing for alcohol as the solution to the world’s alcohol problems.
There has been a rise in muppetry in the UK in recent years. Two of our nations have introduced minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol, first Scotland, in 2018, and then Wales, in 2020. All eyes are on the data, to see whether muppetry works. The muppets of course want to show that it does, while the more sceptical, including Dr No, are inclined to be, well, more sceptical. Almost a decade ago, when muppetry was all the rage, but had yet to be introduced, Dr No published a number of posts pointing out that the underlying dogma and predictions — chiefly a dodgy marriage between Geoffrey Rose’s sick individuals and sick populations theory and some elastic economics, all veiled in a dense web of creative numerology — were about as robust as a wet paper bag. And so it seems: alcohol related deaths have been on an upward trend over the last few years in Scotland, with 2020 having the highest age standardised morality since 2011. Yet in the face of this hard evidence of a worsening position, we have muppets publishing a paper telling us that muppetry works.
At long last, Dr No has found a way of estimating official covid death inflation. By official covid death inflation, he means the extent to which the authorities have deliberately inflated the number of covid deaths to increase, in SPI-B’s infamous words, “the perceived level of personal threat…among those who are complacent”. Let us be absolutely clear: this is the government, and its agencies, deliberately massaging official statistics, to scare the population witless, into submission and compliance. In SPI-B’s own words, this needs “hard-hitting emotional messaging” to be effective, and what could be more hard-hitting and emotional than official accounts of tens of thousands of deaths from the novel coronavirus? It is classical propaganda, “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view”, a shocking and lamentable abuse of power that has no place in a modern democracy. Yet, for the last eighteen months, this tissue of partial truths, lies and deceits has been relentlessly streamed day after day by the government, via a complicit mainstream media, to the British public. The vast majority of other countries have also fared no better.
Dr No’s last post showed there were substantial humps in non-covid–19 mortality in care homes and private homes in the first wave of the pandemic, and that these humps cannot by fully explained by a displacement of what would have been hospital deaths to care and private home deaths. Something else must be at work, which Dr No rather loosely suggested might be ‘neglect, or worse’, in the absence of other obvious explanations. The ‘or worse’ is to cover the ‘midazolam thing’ — the excess use of midazolam last year, and by implication, excessive, and inappropriate, use of end-of-life care to ‘help the old folk on their way’. Dr No used ‘or worse’ because he is not fully persuaded this did (or for that matter did not) happen. There was a rise in aggregate midazolam prescribing — for example, see the striking April 2020 spike here — but there was also a rise in the numbers of deaths, so it becomes a chicken and the egg problem: did more deaths cause more midazolam prescriptions, or did more midazolam prescriptions cause more deaths? We don’t know. Perhaps it was a bit of both.