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.

The chart at the top of this post is Dr No’s version of the scatter plot, based on ourworldindata.org1 data for 1st October 2021, for all countries and areas, except those with missing values, or absurd values. Gibraltar, for example, has managed to vaccinate 117.8% of its population. Perhaps the monkeys are in charge. If we inverted the colours, we might imagine we are looking at the sky at night. Perhaps there are constellations out there? Is Orion in there somewhere, trying to escape? However we look at these charts, the only real information they contain is that there is no information, except that there is no apparent connection between vaccination rates and ‘case’ rates.

Ha, you cry! It’s not about cases, it’s about deaths. In that ghastly phrase that seems forever jammed like a rotting log in a weir gate, ‘So, we know that vaccines have broken the link between cases and deaths’. If that is the case, countries with higher levels of vaccine coverage should have lower death rates. What do we find? Figure 1 shows the scatter plot for covid vaccine rates against covid deaths per million population, again with countries with missing and absurd values removed.

Figure 1: covid vaccination and covid deaths rates. Data source: ourworldindata.org

There are four apparent outliers top left, labelled in the chart with their country’s name. If, in our mind’s eye we remove those four apparent outliers, we are left with what looks like, well, a shapeless pile of… There is no discernable connection between covid vaccine coverage and covid death rates.

Ha, you cry! Not all countries are the same! Some are richer, with higher vaccine coverage and better health care, others are poorer, with less vaccine coverage and health care, and probably rather wobbly death registrations systems. Apples and oranges! Indeed, so let’s plot Figure 1 again, this time adding some GDP data. Using UN 2019 per capita GDP estimates, Dr No added a column with this data for each country. He then sorted on this column, and divided them into five bands, from highest to lowest GDP, and then colour coded the plots for each band. Figure 2 shows the result, with the named outliers in Figure 1 excluded.

Figure 2: covid vaccination and covid deaths rates, grouped by GDP per capita. Data source: ourworldindata.org (covid deaths) and wikipedia (GDP per capita)

Overall, we have the same amorphous spread of dots. Embarrassingly, we can see that the richer countries have far outstripped poorer countries in vaccination rates — so much for ‘we are all in this together’. Dr No rather suspects we would find similar intra-country effects too, with the more deprived showing lower vaccine coverage. But what do we see when we look at each GDP band? The short answer is not a lot. For the high GDP high vaccination group, if we ignore the outliers — a reasonable thing to do, because they are outliers, and so distort the picture unduly, because they are outliers — the dots are all over the place. For the upper middle GDP group, the spread is far greater, and so on, for all the groups. A country’s wealth, and so by implication the capabilities of its health care system, appear to make no difference to the lack of correlation between covid vaccination rates and death rates. When Dr No added trend lines — and got a horribly busy chart, which is why it is not reproduced here — the two groups with the highest GDPs had slight downward trends, markedly influenced by the outliers, and the three lower GDP groups all had slight upward trends, with the lowest group again markedly influenced by an outlier. By and large, there is no correlation between covid vaccination rates and death rates.

That is our finding. If what it implies (but hasn’t proven) is also true — that there is no connection between covid vaccination rates and death rates — then the entire pro-vaccination edifice falls. There can be no scientific or moral justification for compulsory vaccination, no scientific or moral justification for covid passports, and no scientific of moral justification for forcing vaccination on school children. All of these projects fail, because they have no scientific or moral underpinning. If, Heaven forbid, not only does vaccination not bring about any net benefit, but at the same time, it causes harm to some, then the balance in favour of vaccination is radically altered. If that is the case, then perhaps it is time for Montezuma to turn his revenge from the hapless harmless tourist, to the conquistadores who would invade his bodily integrity, and prick him to the quick, all under a creed of cod science.

Dr No’s considered pragmatic position today remains the same. The vaccines may indeed benefit some people, just as, at the same time, they may harm some people. We simply do not have definitive answers, because the vaccines are still so new. A million combined person-years of routine exposure does not yet even amount to one year of linear individual exposure. Under such a cloud of uncertainty, there is no place for directives from on high, no place for malevolent self-appointed deities firing indiscriminate thunderbolts through those clouds of uncertainty. It is instead up to the individual to make his or her choice, based on what matters to him or her. The whole apparatus of coercive vaccination should be dismantled, and individuals should be given the freedom to make their own decisions.         

1. Methodology: to get data for a particular date, go to the relevant chart eg daily deaths per million (doesn’t matter what countries are/aren’t selected, but make sure confirmed deaths, 7 day rolling average and relative to population are all selected at the top), and set the two date sliders so they are both on the date of interest (slide one over the other and then drag to combined slider). The top of the chart will confirm the date, and the chart itself will change into a horizontal bar chart. Then click on the Table tab, where you will find the data for all countries, which can be copied and pasted, or downloaded using a browser extension.

A final musing: correlation does not prove causation, but is the fully opposite true? Does no correlation prove there is no causation? On the face of it, the answer appears to be yes: if there is no correlation, how can there be any connection? But what if Simpson’s Paradox is at work: the global picture obscures sub-group effects, even to the extent that all sub-groups show an effect, yet the global picture for some reason does not, or even shows an opposite effect? Simpson’s Paradox tells this is possible, so once and again, the charts in this post prove nothing, but at the same time, they are striking, and the curious will naturally want to know more, and so it is that, at the very least, these charts pique Dr No’s curiosity.  


  1. Tish Farrell Reply

    The seeming bonkers stats for Gibraltar are apparently due to their vaxing Spanish visitors on top of residents. Obviously in let’s stab anything that moves mode.

  2. steve Reply

    I’d want to explore what so-called lower GDP per capita countries are doing compared to higher GDP per capita countries.

    I’d also want to find out how each country measures vaccinations and how it measures covid deaths.

    Next step for yours truly is to move somewhere where there is low GDP per capita. Perhaps they are a bit more pragmatic and less in thrall to the great neoliberal complex and industrialised medical interventions!

    I thought Daleks shouted “exterminate” and not “vaccinate”

  3. dr-no Reply

    James – thanks!

    Tish – sure is one way to boost your vaccination rates, but when it pushes your vaccination rate over 100% it’s time to throttle back a bit, lest others accuse you of cheating.

    Steve – the low GDP countries most likely do have lower vaccination rates, but it is possible they have less robust deaths by cause registration, so they may under-record covid deaths. OWID themselves say that “Limited testing and challenges in the attribution of the cause of death means that the number of confirmed deaths may not be an accurate count of the true number of deaths from COVID-19” and these effects are likely to be more pronounced on poorer countries. But that doesn’t explain why there appears to be no correlation within GDP groups. It is rather messy and busy, but here is the plot with trend lines, none very striking, and three of the five actually suggest high vaccine rates comes with higher deaths rates (a similar trend appeared in the paper (link at the top) that triggered this post for ‘cases’ for all countries). Dr No’s main point is that if the vaccines are having a major impact on mortality, then that effect is somehow lost in these plots, and that is curious.

    Yes, the top and upper mid groups have downward trends, but as noted in the post, they are not earth-shattering (and R-squared for those who want it is is between 0.041 and 0.055), are heavily influenced by outliers, and are contradicted by the other three trend lines with their upwards trends.

    • Richard Reply

      Dr No, perhaps New Zealand can be a test case for you. We have our delta variant outbreak now nearing 2000 cases with 2 deaths and a population set to reach 80% vaccination in a few weeks. The government is aiming for 90% vaccination rate before reopening, and we’ll probably get close to that.
      The usual experts are predicting doom with 7000 deaths a year at 90% next year. Interesting times ahead. The great majority of Kiwis have been solidly behind Jacinda’s eliminate policy but the pushback is gaining momentum.

      • dr-no Reply

        Richard – 80% vaccinated in a few weeks time seems a little optimistic given OWID has 52.42% fully vaccinated and a further 19.52% partially vaccinated for New Zealand on 12th Oct, all the more so as those who have not yet bee vaccinated will increasingly represent those reluctant to be vaccinated. Nonetheless, if New Zealand does get to very high levels, and starts with very low levels of circulating virus, then it will indeed be interesting to see what happens.

        Elimination strategies have as struck Dr No as ostrich policies. Unless an island nation turns itself into a armoured fortress, and stops all contact with the outside – no commerce, no arts, no sports, absolutely no contact at all – then sooner or later the virus will arrive on its shores. Perhaps the plan then is to keeps heads buried in the sand, in the hope that the virus can’t penetrate the sand…

        • Richard Reply

          Our stats say 83% have the first jab and although I don’t agree with our ostrich policies I think our data is pretty accurate, it would be dumb for the mandarins to inflate the numbers.
          We went with the elimination strategy and now have an increasingly vaccinated population, lots (50%?) of which either want to travel or have family overseas that want to come home.
          So the problem for Jacinda is to change the narrative to living with Covid, not easy while trying to scare the rest of the population into getting vaccinated and explaining why it’s no big deal.
          Not helped by Chris Hopkins, the Covid Minister, asking the Opposition how many deaths they are prepared to accept by opening up while claiming the escalating daily cases in Auckland are ‘sobering but not concerning’
          So we’re closing in on the point of having to open up and it’s increasingly a political problem rather than a medical problem

          • Tom Welsh

            “So we’re closing in on the point of having to open up and it’s increasingly a political problem rather than a medical problem”.

            I would go further and say that the whole problem with Covid has always been that it’s a political problem, not a medical problem.

            When did it become acceptable – or even legal – for a bunch of clueless politicians to tell qualified doctors how they may or may not treat their patients?

  4. Carol Brown Reply

    Very interesting scatter plots and highly descriptive imagery Dr No!

    I agree with your conclusion that the plots undermine the case for compulsory vaccination of huge sections of the population including children. It’s particularly troubling that the government has even overruled the JCVI recommendation on vaccination of 12-15 year olds.

    Specifically regarding children/teenagers, I wonder if you can help explain what seems, to us uninitiated, like an inconsistency in Government policy regarding Covid and Chickenpox? The link to NHS FAQs suggests government policy is to allow children to become infected naturally with Chickenpox virus which causes them little harm when young, as this will permit a natural boosting of their immunity if re-exposed to the virus later in life. Why should Covid be different especially as we know it too has such an age-stratified morbidity?


  5. Annie Davenport Turner Reply

    Indeed, a colourful account to describe the mess, Dr No! And, again, thank you for your detailed research presented with such skill and humour.

    Unfortunately, imho, I think the time for simply stating the need for people to be able to make their own choices has long gone; this whole thing isn’t, and never has been, anything to do with health. Within a matter of weeks, the incoming ‘pass’ (which was always in the synopsis) will destroy everything our parents and grandparents fought for only a handful of decades ago. I appreciate and commend the balanced view, and the not diving into what might be felt is unprovable territory, but given ‘Mr Global’* is doing only the latter in its attempt to control every move we make forever, I think it’s now time to meet them in their game of saying ‘The jab works every time and is saving the world’ with our saying,’ No, it doesn’t and no it isn’t.’ When they say ‘You can’t prove people are dying from it’, we now need to say, ‘You can’t prove people aren’t dying from it’ and step up to stop their game now, because we have to do SOMEthing, and fast, to stop the tsunami that is the world ‘Mr Global’ is ever implementing, and now horribly, horribly fast. Once the passes, and the life-style which will accompany them, is in, it will be almost impossible to remove them – not for decades anyway – and I don’t relish looking at spending the rest of my life in queues for stale bread and water, because, as one of ‘the filthy un-jabbed’, I’m unable to access shops, health-care, dental-care, transport, fuel, and more, let alone ever again go to a pub, cafe, concert hall, or cinema. No longer can we just look at death charts for a clue as to how to say they don’t hold water, because the whole ‘environment’ thing, along with the monetary system collapse, is about to mow us down – all connected as it is, and all there in Mr Global’s now dog-eared script.

    I think it’s time to run forward to where the actual front-line is now. We are the people setting out in the little boats, and set out we must.

    * Mr Global = the central banks, Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Schwab and the WEF, and his previous ‘Young Global Leaders’ trainees now running half the world (Arden, Macron, etc, and every pharmaceutical and agrichem company, let alone all the tech companies…

  6. dr-no Reply

    Carol – your observations on the apparent contradiction in government policy are unimpeachable, and Dr No agrees, there is an inconsistency. Those who are for mass vaccination of children will warn of the dire consequences of long covid, of Trojan covid (grandparents should beware grandchildren bearing gifts), but the former is almost certainly over-hyped and the evidence for the latter is wanting. So far this year, there have been 18 deaths among ~10.5 million children aged 0-14, a death rate of ~2/million, and most, around 3/4, of those have been in children with comorbidities. The ordinary healthy child is not at any meaningful risk from covid, and they do not become covid bombs. There is no case for coercive vaccination of children, and it could even be seen as a form of abuse, insofar as it deprives them of the opportunity to gain natural infection, and so any possible benefits that may bring, while at the same time exposing them to vaccine related harm.

    PS corrected the hyperlink, not your fault, the plugin that adds the ability to add links has a habit of adding a http:// prefix

  7. dr-no Reply

    Annie – thanks. Dr No is on the same hymn sheet, and yes, the covid passes (a pass sounds so much more friendly than a passport, doesn’t it?) are the big menace, the machinery that will grind society to dust.

  8. Tom Welsh Reply

    One observation seems cheering: in all the graphs there is a distinct clustering along the bottom (and especially at the lower left-hand corner). By eye, it looks to me as though about half the data points correspond to 100 “cases” per million or fewer. That’s an *infection* rate of about 0.01%, which would lead one to expect a tiny mortality.

  9. Tom Welsh Reply

    I have just posted the following on Dr Kendrick’s site, as it seems to be of interest for everyone. If Dr No has any objection, please remove or amend.

    VERY strongly recommended (by me):

    Winning the War Against Therapeutic Nihilism & Trusted Treatments vs Untested Novel Therapies (Dr Peter McCullough; 1-hour video talk to Association of American Physicians and Surgeons)

    Recommended by Dr McCullough, right at the end of that talk, is this book:

    “COVID-19 and the Global Predators: We Are the Prey” by Peter and Ginger Breggin

    The book gives a lot of information about the larger political context of Covid-19. How come it was all so organised? Why did almost all governments respond in the same ways, at the same time, like a well-drilled unit of soldiers? What’s going on?

    • dr-no Reply

      Tom – thanks for the recommendations and links. Dr No has an extremely high threshold before even thinking of censoring, let alone doing it, so no objections whatsoever.

  10. Carol Brown Reply

    Thanks for your reply Dr No. Very interesting to consider your point about depriving children of the opportunity to gain natural infection – “first do no harm” and all that. The ethics here are very complex indeed.

  11. dearieme Reply

    “The seeming bonkers stats for Gibraltar are apparently due to their vaxing Spanish visitors on top of residents. Obviously in let’s stab anything that moves mode.”

    I’m relying on memory, but it was when they decided to vaccinate all care home workers and the like that they decided to vaccinate Spaniards who crossed the border to work in care homes too.

    Seems reasonable to me. But – again from memory – Gib had had almost no Covid deaths until they started vaccinating and then they got a lot. Bit of a worry, that.

  12. dr-no Reply

    John B – an interesting chart from that link. Here’s a similar 28 day covid deaths per 100,000 by age and vaccine status (2 doses vs no doses) chart from the same PHE/UKHSA reports (link to a larger version of the chart). Infuriatingly, these are only covid deaths (based on the 28 day needle in a haystack test), and it’s only a short run, but there are some interesting trends. What would all cause mortality look like?

    Note: edited 18:58 14/10/21 to add PHS/UKHSA sources

    • Tom Welsh Reply

      Yet another recurrence of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. People like Fauci, their accomplices and (perhaps) bosses, and the corresponding people in every other country (almost), have leapt at the opportunity to make vast amounts of money, gain prestige and treasured appointments, and appear on TV.

      Meanwhile people like “Joe Biden” and his gang have leapt at the opportunity to exalt themselves, abolish democratic rights and freedoms, and become so many jumped-up “pocket Hitlers” (as they used to be called in the UK).

      On general principle, as the authorities have succeeded so well in smothering and obscuring all accurate data, I favour the explanation of blundering, bumbling incompetence fuelled by selfishness amplified to almost unbelievable proportions.

      As Dr Malcolm Kendrick said the other day in his blog, “We do know that auto-immune conditions can be ghastly. We know frighteningly little about the immune system. We need to exhibit caution if there is a possibility that our actions may lead to the immune system going haywire”. https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2021/09/23/inclisiran-sneaks-through-under-cover-of-covid19/#comment-235071

      That is exactly the point. As soon as scientists begin to scrape the surface of any incredibly complex biological system, they (and their sponsors) raise a hullaballoo in the media and rush to exploit their “discoveries”. As often as not, when further progress is made in a few years, it turns out that their initial recommendations were quite wrong – and often enough harmful.

      One could cite bleeding, keeping windows tightly shut to exclude all that awful fresh air, hoicking out tonsils and adenoids at the first hint of a cold (or anyway, on general principle), lengthy bed rest after heart operations, the grossly excessive use of antibiotics and inoculation, many “miracle drugs” for which Thalidomide might be the “poster child” (a limbless child, presumably); and now it seems that much of the foundations of virology, immunology, and even cellular biochemistry fall under serious suspicion. Do viruses even exist in the forms we have been told? Do they burst in to the body and cause disease, or are they more like scavengers finishing off the old and debilitated? Do anti-viral drugs do more harm than good? And, of course, how effective is inoculation when honestly tested and measured?

      To find out the truth about any of those matters, we need to roll right back all commercial, political and personal interests. But in today’s world, that seems next to impossible, as most of our values have shrivelled up and been replaced by the supreme value: money.

    • dr-no Reply

      John B – an interesting post indeed. Dr No had a look at recent overall excess mortality in The Summer of Excess Death, even if very recent figures suggest the pattern may (of may bot – we shall have to wait and see) be reverting to normal. This is from ONS’s most recent weekly deaths report:

      What caused those excess non-covid deaths (and the non-covid deaths ‘accidentally’ labelled as covid deaths)? Why did 2021 have an excess over this period when 2020 (also not part of the five year average)? Was there anything different in 2021 compared to 2020?

      Musn’t over-egg the pudding – these are modest excesses, but they are still nonetheless excesses.

      Tom – a long time ago a brighter than average consultant Dr No worked for said the worst thing that happened to pharmaceuticals was the pharmaceutical industry. He advocated researching and developing drugs only in universities, where there was no profit motive (this was in the days before the never-ending scramble for grants, because of course that had the effect of commercialising universities). Putting the R&D in gold old fashioned academic departments would at a stroke get rid of toxic phenomena like me-too drugs, dodgy selective trials 0and the rush to market.

      Others will counter: look at what the pharmaceutical industry has achieved. All those drugs we rely one! Without the profit motive these things simply would not happen! Dr No will leave it to readers to decide for themselves how well the pro- pharma brigade have made their case.

  13. dearieme Reply

    That’s a disconcerting hypothesis, John B.

    “we’re seeing … epidemics in covid death rapidly following vaccination campaigns”: yes, I remember that happening in Gibraltar. Golly, so now we have a possible explanation. It’s my impression that governments and “experts” have offered no explanation at all.

    • Tom Welsh Reply

      And STILL, IMHO, there is no way to distinguish between the alternative explanations of malice or incompetence.

      Such incompetence would have to be on an almost unimaginable, super-galactic scale.

      But so would such malice.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *