Musings on mortality data.

Just thought I'd take a peek as the government's latest "Weekly national Influenza and COVID-19 surveillance report".

The dry title belies the wealth of interesting data it contains.

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/upl…
The interesting thing about this report is that it is the only government publication I can find which shows deaths by date they actually occurred, as opposed to when they were registered.
ONS data is mainly reported by date of registration, eg this graph from their weekly report:
If you think it's odd to draw conclusions on the effect of something happening now using data where the dates aren't the dates of the actual deaths, you'd be right.

(Having said that, it is arguable whether that graph shows anything to be really concerned about.)
It's especially concerning when there's a significant difference in the times taken to register Covid v non-Covid deaths, as pointed out before:

But by registration is the most "up to date" and by date of occurrence is old, with lots of missing deaths, isn't it?

And yes, that is true. But you can have the best of both worlds - by using known delays data to estimate an up to date picture of deaths by occurrence data.
That is what has been done on page 61 of the report referenced at the top.

It looks like this:
Now, standing back from that - does it look like we are currently in a pandemic of a lethal virus?

Around 1400 people usually die every day in England. So when the government says there have been 400 - 500 Covid deaths, that would be around 1/3 of the usual deaths.

Hmmm....
In thinking about that graph - and most other mortality stats - bear in mind also:

- they aren't adjusted for population
- they aren't age-standardised (more very old people -> more deaths expected)
- the baseline is based on last 5 years, a historically low-mortality period
There's another really intriguing table in that report, showing this:

- excess deaths everywhere during Spring (real pandemic) and in some places in week 33 (heatwave)

- but only 3 regions - NW, West Mids and Yorkshire/Humber - with any other weeks of excess deaths
This is entirely inconsistent with a 2nd wave of a deadly pandemic sweeping indiscriminately through the whole country.
But think how bad it could have got without restrictions?

My answer is - prove it. Given the harms caused by lockdowns, it's up to proponents to prove their effectiveness, not us, as @RealJoelSmalley points out here:

Also, ask yourself this question:

If you tell people to protect the NHS, massively reduce access to healthcare and frighten them into staying in their own homes, would that be likely to increase, or decrease mortality?
Well, I think it's safe to say it's unlikely to decrease it.

Next ask where you think you'd see extra people dying if they didn't seek healthcare? Yes, some would be in hospital - having sought help too late - but many would be in private homes.
And that is what we do in fact see. ~29k of the ~60k excess deaths seen in 2020 to date were at home, and 90% of these were non-Covid.
Things must be getting better though?

Sadly not really, still running at around 100 / day (for England only):
A few weeks ago @ClareCraigPath tweeted a thread about non-Covid excess deaths. It is a matter of huge concern.

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More from @jengleruk

12 Dec
I just had another thought about this (and the other vaccine candidates).

Maybe it's a bit "niche" but I thought it was interesting!
For months now, various people like myself, @MichaelYeadon3 and @ClareCraigPath and many others have been banging on about the insanity of counting "cases" as Covid19 infections using PCR testing alone, without the need for any clinical symptoms whatsoever.
So it is in fact somewhat ironic that the vaccine trials seek to count infections by requiring that classification of a subject as having Covid19 actually requires symptoms.

Then and only then, these are confirmed as caused by SARSCOV2 by "confirmatory" PCR testing.
Read 7 tweets
12 Dec
Just had a lovely catch-up on the phone with my brother @abesdad who asked me the reasonable question: why is there so little opposition to the government's response in the mainstream media?
That got me thinking that not a lot of people know about the pernicious "Broadcast standards during the coronavirus pandemic" issued by Ofcom, which apply to ALL UK broadcast media.

If you Google "Coronavirus OFCOM" you get to this page:

ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio-and-o…
To me, that is overkill, but at least it's arguable that the guidance contained therein was reasonable earlier in the pandemic.

However, the "meat" of these guidelines are in the "Notes to Broadcasters", and the one I take issue with in particular is the one dated 26 May.
Read 7 tweets
9 Dec
As medics, we were trained to apply "precautionary principle" and "first do no harm". It's drilled into students constantly.

It involves the recognition that every medical intervention has risks which need to be balanced with benefits.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primum_no…
So I am wondering why the government is administering the Pfizer vaccine at all to healthy NHS staff.

We know the risks of significant illness in this group are really, really low.
In England, recorded deaths for people less than 60 years old with no pre-existing condition during the entire pandemic currently stands at 322:

england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-…
Read 18 tweets
7 Dec
Some thoughts on vaccines for SARSCOV2.

So, trials for the current vaccine candidates would appear to have been designed to detect a reduction in symptoms only, as summarised here:

forbes.com/sites/williamh…
None of the companies are claiming any reduction in the propensity to become infected, for example Pfizer's CEO is careful what he says here:

businesstoday.in/latest/trends/…
This would make these vaccines like those for flu' - they reduce severity.

That's a worthy aim in and of itself as it is likely to reduce the mortality burden in vulnerable groups, but it would seem it's not something being recognised by most people.
Read 12 tweets

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