Date: 6th April 2021
In view of the comments of the CMO, Professor Chris Whitty, on the evening of 5th April, this seemed like a good time to share data from www.ourworldindata.org/explorers/coronavirus-data-explorer on how covid infections have changed in relation to vaccination rollouts.
The CMO said that despite Chile having vaccinated a significant number of its population, covid rates were not going down.
He said: “Is this due to vaccines used? Is this due to the timing of when things have actually been rolled out? Is it due to particular interactions with other variants? We don’t yet know. We absolutely need to learn from those countries that are ahead of us or alongside us in terms of vaccine rollout. The assumption that you vaccinate lots of people and the problem goes away, I think Chile is quite a good corrective of that.”
The thing is, the government assumed that ‘you vaccinate lots of people and the problem goes away’, but the questioners among us did not assume that. Especially having read the FDA Briefing Document for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for example, many of us had questions after reading it; on Page 42, it states:
“Suspected COVID-19 cases that occurred within 7 days after any vaccination were 409 in the vaccination group vs 287 in the placebo group. It is possible that the imbalance in suspected COVID-19 cases occurring in the 7 days postvaccination represents vaccine reactogenicity with symptoms that overlap with those of COVID-19. Overall though, these data do not raise a concern that protocol-specified reporting of suspected, but unconfirmed COVID-19 cases could have masked clinically significant adverse events that would not have otherwise been detected.”
The document states it is ‘possible’ this imbalance is vaccine reactogenicity etc, but did they consider in the trial that the participants who had been vaccinated might have had increased susceptibility to COVID-19? The difference between the two groups is 42%. And the trial was conducted in a low-COVID-19 environment due to the season etc. The study was also obviously very small compared to the size of the groups being vaccinated worldwide currently, and there is good reason to think that effects seen in a relatively small trial group might not simply scale up when rolled out in an absolutely huge worldwide trial.
It might also have been a comfort to the scientists conducting the trial that the data did not raise a concern that the COVID-19 symptoms masked other clinically significant adverse events, but it is clear that it did not raise a concern that these participants might have been suffering COVID-19 at increased rates.
The following show data from around the world from some selected locations. It is, of course, vital to stress that correlation is not causation. And that there are countries where vaccine rollout does not precede or coincide with increased infections. However, I have been unable to find any nation where covid rates have begun to drop after vaccination started, or where a drop coincided with vaccination starting. In Indonesia, for example, the covid rate was falling when vaccination started and seems to have been unaffected in its trajectory by the vaccine being rolled out. The reader can look up these charts for him/herself on the website. Have a look at these and see what you make of them.
The graphs appear first for each country with cases and a notable change in trend and rise marked, followed by vaccination rollout with any notable change in rate of vaccination marked.
Australia is a low-covid environment in its summer/early autumn and a long way from the end of its ‘second wave’ – no effect seen.
Chile – in that first wave of vaccinations, there seems to have been the continuation of a drop in cases, but as the second wave of vaccinations rolled out, there was a rise in cases. Czechia’s third wave began as the vaccine got going.
France – an increase in covid cases seems to be matched in timing with the increase in rate of vaccinations.
Hungary – quite an extreme second wave seen here at the same time as vaccinations rolled out.
India saw a sudden steep incline in cases precisely as vaccinations accelerated.
Israel’s biggest wave occurred as the vaccine was rolled out.
Jordan started vaccinating in mid-January and then started to climb in its second wave by the end of that month.
Netherlands commenced its fourth wave during the vaccine rollout.
New Zealand sees no effect – it is clearly a low covid environment.
Norway’s fourth wave commenced within two weeks of an acceleration of the vaccination program.
Palestine started its vaccinations much later than Israel… but the exact start date is unclear. Its second major wave of cases counted is still climbing – very much later than its neighbour Israel’s did.
Spain experienced its third wave during vaccination rollout – it did experience an acceleration in covid cases reported just as vaccination started. The big rise in rate of vaccination wasn’t associated with any particular rise in covid cases.
Sweden looks a little different, but there was a rise in covid cases as the vaccination rollout accelerated.
There was an extraordinary increase in rate of covid cases reported in UAE, preceding the vaccinations reported. Rates remain elevated compared to where they were before. There have been two waves of vaccination.
USA looks a little more hopeful. Any rise in covid cases following vaccination beginning was short lived there and has fallen precipitously. This is great news!
What about UK? The sharp rise in covid cases seems to have begun before vaccination commenced looking at this graph.. but the vaccination programme began on 8th December in UK, so there is certainly some missing information in the second graph here.
And Scotland? Our first vaccinations were begun in early December. They started slowly, but there was a very sudden rise in cases that were much commented upon in the daily blog on this website. This may have been in part due to a change in testing strategy, where we used two genes instead of three for identification of a positive case. But this was a surprise to us at Inform Scotland at the time. It was only as more and more countries around the world experienced a rise in covid cases post-vaccination that our ears really pricked up, but the pattern was very clear by mid-January.
There are many many factors, not the least of which are testing strategy and the reporting of vaccination numbers, from around the world that could cause reporting artefacts which may be seen in the observations seen here. But what is very clear looking at data worldwide, is that vaccinations are certainly not associated with a reliable fall in covid cases in any predictable timeframe. This, alongside the observations in the trial, surely must be addressed. What is happening here? Is it just that vaccinations are coincidentally being rolled out at the same time as outbreaks are due? In very many places?
Or is the vaccine not working immediately? If not, why not? How long does it take to see an effect of infection reduction at a population and individual level?
Or is the vaccine making people more susceptible to infection? If this is the case (which is biologically plausible according to many we are in touch with), is this a temporary effect? What causes it? Should we mitigate against it? Should we ensure people are vaccinated in a low covid environment? Do vaccinated people need extra protection immediately following vaccination?
How long does it take for any increased susceptibility to diminish?
We must know the answers to these questions. Vaccinations are intended to be offered to every man, woman and child in the country, even though many people simply are not susceptible to covid, or have seen off an infection easily. We must understand what the benefit to the community is before we can assess the risk of vaccination properly to the individual if most individuals are only to be vaccinated for the benefit of the community.
We are told that everyone must be vaccinated. But then that restrictions still can’t end even after that has happened. Why is that? Is it because the vaccine doesn’t prevent transmission? How can free informed consent be given under these conditions?
Please see the Drowning in Data blog on this website, where the blogger has posted graphs of death rates with covid vaccinations in the last article.