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The murky record-keeping that helped NHS fiddle Covid figures


BY LATE 2021 it was already clear in the UK that the Covid vaccines did not stop infection or transmission. There were also plenty of concerning safety signals. So ‘vaccine hesitancy’ was on the increase.

Given this increasing resistance against the vaccine programme, the official messaging was changed from ‘vaccines stop you getting Covid’ to ‘vaccines stop you being hospitalised and dying from covid’.

To push this new narrative the Government started pumping out ‘data’ to support the claim that almost all of those ill in hospital with Covid were unvaccinated. Here is an NHS text that was sent to everybody registered with a GP in the UK in November 2021:

At the time the text was sent out, ‘fully vaccinated’ in the UK was defined as ‘at least 14 days since 3rd jab’ or ‘between at least 14 days and less than 6 months of 2nd jab’. So the official figure of eight out of ten ‘not fully vaccinated’ might have been right but was totally misleading since almost all of those who were vaccinated (i.e., had at least one jab) at that time were ‘not fully vaccinated’.

This creates a false semantic equivalence between ‘unvaccinated’ and ‘not fully vaccinated’.

Many media sources, including the BBC, pushed the ’80 per cent unvaccinated’ claim without even mentioning the ‘fully vaccinated’ criteria:

Similar claims were made about Covid deaths among the vaccinated such as this one in the Independent:

and this one in the Guardian:

With respect to patients in ICU claims that high proportions of those with Covid were unvaccinated were widely cited – and never challenged – in the mainstream media:

A particularly serious example was the ludicrous claim made in the BBC documentary Unvaccinated by Dr Mehool Patel (consultant, University Hospital Lewisham). His statement – unchallenged in the programme – was:

‘We looked at about 550 patients that were admitted in our trust between the 15th December and 15th January 2022, which in effect would mean that most if not all of them were through due to Omicron variant, and of that there were unfortunately 21 patients who had to be admitted to intensive care who were the most severe patients due to Covid. Of the 21 I’m afraid 20 of them were unvaccinated, that’s 95 per cent. Just one person was vaccinated. And of the 21 who were on the unit, I’m afraid unfortunately seven of them didn’t make it, all of them were unvaccinated, 100 per cent. So that’s one figure to just illustrate the point.’

This was one of the many specific pieces of misinformation that I raised in my formal complaint to the BBC about the programme. I asked the BBC to provide the verified data to support this claim. When I eventually received a response from the BBC’s Complaints Director Jeremy Hayes he said: ‘You maintain that this claim was “either false/exaggerated or an unbelievable outlier”. I have approached the programme makers for information about the data which were quoted by Dr Patel. I have been advised that the figures were compiled by Dr Patel himself for the purposes of research. Lewisham and Greenwich Hospital Trust does not record the vaccination status of patients in ICU so Dr Patel’s figures cannot independently be verified.’

But the scam was based on something even more ludicrous than classifying ‘not fully vaccinated’ as ‘unvaccinated’.

As a result of Freedom of Information requests sent to some individual NHS trusts, we now know that some hospitals were using the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) system to classify vaccine status of patients while others were using their own systems. This meant that in many cases even if a patient had a vaccination record in NIMS, if the patient was not vaccinated in that particular hospital/Trust they were recorded as unvaccinated. Some hospitals were using a mixture of both systems (NIMS where a death was recorded and an internal system where a Covid case was recorded). For those relying on NIMS, since it was not operational until June 2021, all deaths within the hospital would have had an unknown vaccination status between January and June 2021. The problem is that some hospitals were classifying ‘unknown’ as ‘unvaccinated’.

So, murky record-keeping was used to manipulate the data.

To see the implications of this, here are the data on hospital deaths (all deaths, not just Covid) from the start of the vaccine programme until the end of 2021 from an undisclosed NHS trust which responded to an FOI request:

Note that every death until 21 June 2021 was recorded as unvaccinated simply because hospitals in this Trust were using the NIMS system for classifying deaths which was not up and running until then. But, of course, an unknown number (probably most) of these 742 people were vaccinated.

There are plenty of other anomalies in the data. Note the improbable, sudden and dramatic trend changes:

  1. A steady decline in ‘unvaccinated’ deaths from 21 June until 13 Sept. In week ending 13 Sept only 4 out of 46 (less than 9 per cent) were unvaccinated.
  2. The next week (20 Sept) the unvaccinated are suddenly the majority again with 21 out of 31 deaths (68 per cent), and this increases so quickly that just three weeks later (11 Oct) all 44 deaths (100 per cent) are ‘unvaccinated’.
  3. But then we get a sudden and rapid decline in the unvaccinated deaths. Just 2 weeks later (25 Oct) the unvaccinated are 13 out of 47 deaths (28 per cent) and by 20 Dec none of 53 deaths were unvaccinated.

Such changes can only be the result of changes in definition of who should be classified as unvaccinated.

It is easy to see how the Government could cherry-pick this kind of data to present the narrative they wanted. When the text messages were being sent out in November 2021 it is reasonable to assume that they were using the cumulative data up to, say, mid-October. Then using the data in the table up to and including 18 Oct 2021 we count:

  • 1051 ‘unvaccinated’ (including 17 with just a single jab)
  • 370 ‘vaccinated’ (with 2 jabs).

That gives 74 per cent of all hospital deaths classified as ‘unvaccinated’.

But this is all an illusion. In fact, counting the final three weeks of the data (6-20 Dec), just 18 out of the 144 deaths (12.5 per cent) were unvaccinated.

It is also worth noting that the same NHS Trust provided the following information on ‘new Covid positives’ in its hospitals between 19th Jan 2021 and 19th Jan 2022.

Given what we know about national vaccination take-up rates, and this Trust’s own death data, it is likely that the majority of those classified as ‘unvaccinated’ here would have been vaccinated (with the exception of those in the 0-20 age categories, the vast majority of whom would not have been eligible for vaccination).

So, instead of the ‘50 per cent of new Covid cases’ being among the unvaccinated – the ‘official’ narrative pushed from this data – the true narrative should have been that the vast majority of new Covid cases were vaccinated.

It matters a lot because, despite being completely bogus, these kinds of ludicrous figures were so consistently repeated that the message ‘vaccines stop you being hospitalised and dying from Covid (even if they don’t stop infection and transmission)’ was almost universally accepted. Even the strongest critics of the Government’s covid response consistently repeated this mantra:

The figures were also used as the basis for the bogus studies claiming millions of lives were saved by the vaccine.

So, yet again, we can see that statistical data was used to create an illusion of vaccine hospitalisation and mortality efficacy by the simplest of means: deliberately murky record keeping ensuring that the vaccinated get recategorised as unvaccinated when they die or are hospitalised.

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Norman Fenton
Norman Fenton
Norman Fenton is a British mathematician and computer scientist. He is Professor of Risk Information Management in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London.

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