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Why is NZ refusing to investigate a link between covid vaccines and excess deaths?

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The writer is in New Zealand.

Open Letter to Hon Dr Shane Reti, New Zealand Minister of Health

Dear Dr Reti

As you are fully aware we have suffered an extended health crisis along with most nations, closely related to the emergence of a novel coronavirus and our response to it. We are still suffering the effects of this pandemic. This letter relates to the concerning and puzzling replies of Health New Zealand to two Official Information Act (OIA) inquiries seeking information about health outcomes following the Covid-19 response. In particular, the persistent high rates of excess deaths and any possible relationship with Covid vaccination.

Firstly I want to appreciate the dedication and knowledge of the medical staff at Health New Zealand. I have recently been under care at two hospitals for an extended period. I underwent surgery and I was deeply impressed by and grateful for the competence and quality of care I received. I have no doubt this saved my life. We are justly proud of a long tradition of funded public health care in New Zealand and we all wish this to continue to play its vital role in promoting and protecting public health.

My letter relates to OIA responses HNZ00013886 and HNZ00033573. Both requests asked for information about the availability of any data that matches all-cause mortality with Covid vaccination status. I note that prior to the pandemic the existence of any relationship, even if minor, between the use of a drug or vaccine and all-cause mortality was considered critical in evaluating drug safety.

For example this paper titled ‘All-Cause Mortality in Randomized Trials of Cancer Screening‘ from 2002 spells out the overriding importance of looking at all-cause mortality as an indicator of drug safety or harm, saying: 

‘All-cause mortality, (in contrast to disease-specific mortality), does not require judgments about the cause of death. Instead, all that this endpoint requires is an accurate ascertainment of deaths and when they occur. Furthermore, all-cause mortality is a measure that can capture unexpected lethal side effects of medical care. Because of the concern that some cardiac interventions may cause non-cardiac deaths, for example, there has been a trend toward the use of all-cause mortality as the primary end point in cardiac drug trials.’

As you know, the various Covid vaccines did not go through the normal long-term trials that are designed to pick up any such relationship. Now, three years since the introduction of Covid vaccines in New Zealand, it is possible to remedy this deficiency by comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated cohorts with those of matched unvaccinated cohorts separated by age and cause of death.

It would not be in any way an exaggeration to suggest that this comparison will settle any debate concerning Covid vaccine safety. It would enable Health NZ to respond appropriately based on sound evidence. Incredibly, the replies from Health NZ to the OIA requests cited above present a completely contrary picture. They present a puzzling collection of ad hoc statements without evidential support or compelling logic.

HNZ00013886 says: ‘To provide some context, those who have been vaccinated/had boosters are more likely to have high all-cause mortality risk (additional to being aged) than those who did not. Therefore, vaccination will likely be misinterpreted as being associated with increased risk of death. To explain this requires a regression level analysis, which can take upwards of three months based on previous experience.’

The Health NZ official, Michael Clearly, Acting OIA Manager, continued:

‘Given the amount of work that would still have to be carried out to provide you with this information, we have decided to refuse your request under section 18(f) of the Act as the information requested cannot be made available without substantial collation or research.’

Thus the reply appears to concede that the vaccinated do have a higher rate of all-cause death, a huge red flag, but then decides this does not need to be investigated. 

The justification for this lack of action appears to be an unsupported and statistically implausible assertion that ‘it is likely that vaccination may still appear to increase mortality risk due to residual confounding coming from measurement of comorbidities’.

Dr Diana Sarfati, the Director General of Health, is an eminently qualified cancer researcher and I expect that she will appreciate the underlying assumption of this strange assertion: that 87 per cent of our population who have been vaccinated are a special group who were intrinsically sicker than the general population from the beginning. A very highly unlikely and prima facie completely untenable hypothesis.

HNZ00033573 goes further and takes an even more alarming direction. Danielle Coe, Manager (OIA) Government Services, replies that: ‘an order was made by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) on 1st December 2023 which prevents all access, use, and publication of information held by Te Whatu Ora [Health New Zeland] on the National Vaccination Database, or any copies, extracts or information derived from it.’ 

In other words, it appears to close the door to any research into any relationship that might or might not exist between Covid vaccination and all-cause mortality. The reply asserts that even if such research were to use anonymised data, there is a residual privacy interest in the information that would likely damage the public interest.

Despite this, the OIA is accompanied by an anonymised data set of deaths by age, month, number of Covid-19 shots and days to death. This was released on December 15 but a preliminary look at this data appears to confirm the assertion of HNZ00013886 that the vaccinated might indeed have a higher mortality rate. Note: there are still key pieces of information missing from the released data set.

Despite this, the OIA reply asserts: ‘Vaccination is safe and effective and everyone should keep up to date with their vaccines to protect themselves, their whānau [extended family] and their communities. There is no evidence that vaccination is responsible for excess mortality in New Zealand.’

I trust you can see the fallacy in this argument. No rigorous investigation is necessary into long term covid vaccine safety, because vaccination is safe – a circular argument. Such a categorical statement should require evidence and analysis, but none is provided. 

The naivety is on a par with this tweet from rich-lister Lord Alan Sugar, who reports he has had six jabs but has come down with his second infection, which was serious, and then says ‘One will never know how much more ill I would have been had I not had the 6 jabs.’ Sugar appears unaware of the well-known evolutionary course of viruses to adapt and infect highly vaccinated populations.

I suppose, although please correct me if we are wrong, that you are relying on the conclusions of studies such as a paper published in the journal Vaccine on 2nd February entitled ‘The impact of Covid-19 vaccination in Aotearoa New Zealand: A modelling study’ authored by a group of NZ academics. The Abstract claims that between January 2022 and June 2023: ‘Our results estimate that vaccines saved 6,650 (95 per cent credible interval [4,424, 10,180]) lives, and prevented 74,500 [51,000, 115,400] years of life lost and 45,100 [34,400, 55,600] hospitalisations during this 18-month period.’

It concludes that ‘Covid-19 vaccination has greatly reduced the health burden in New Zealand.’

The paper itself, as the title suggests, is a mathematical modelling of the effect of vaccines, masking and antiviral drugs on the rates of Covid infection, hospitalisation, and deaths. The error in the paper being its reliance on disease-specific (i.e. Covid-specific) data rather than the more reliable all-cause mortality data.

The paper does not investigate differences in health outcomes between the vaccinated and unvaccinated and thus falls flat at the first hurdle. It completely ignores the issue that overall mortality is ~20 per cent higher about five months after vax roll-out compared with historic trends and continues high until the present. A key point is found in the paper’s supplement which describes their model:

‘The antibody titre is assumed to be a correlate of protection and a given titre is generally more protective against more severe clinical endpoints, in line with the findings of [5].’

Translated, this means, the authors assumed that the vaccine was effective against all-cause death and severe Covid and just projected the benefits of the vaccine based on this assumption. They never even considered the possibility that the vaccine was not beneficial, which is what the all-cause mortality data in NZ is indicating. In simple terms, vaccine harm was considered unthinkable.

As a result, the paper’s claims are at complete variance with the overall statistics for excess deaths in New Zealand during the study period which were amongst the highest in the world when compared to the pre-pandemic period, accompanied by very high levels of hospitalisation especially for cardiac conditions, and cancer. As you know we have very high volumes and long wait times in ED. There are 60,000 NZers waiting more than four months to see a specialist. No doubt these are figures the government wishes to see reduced. Yet Health New Zealand is apparently unwilling to investigate a possible causal link to covid vaccination.

We contend that the secrecy imposed by the ERA, no doubt with the encouragement of Health New Zealand, is excessive and amounts to a denial of natural justice. Members of the public have a right to expect that the government will take all appropriate and adequate steps to ensure that medical interventions are safe. Setting up regulations that ensure safety cannot be fully investigated using the normal criteria of risk assessment is a clear breach of Provision 27 of the NZ Bill of Rights, The Right To Justice, which states:

(1) Every person has the right to the observance of the principles of natural justice by any tribunal or other public authority which has the power to make a determination in respect of that person’s rights, obligations, or interests protected or recognised by law.

(2) Every person whose rights, obligations, or interests protected or recognised by law have been affected by a determination of any tribunal or other public authority has the right to apply, in accordance with law, for judicial review of that determination.

(3) Every person has the right to bring civil proceedings against, and to defend civil proceedings brought by, the Crown, and to have those proceedings heard, according to law, in the same way as civil proceedings between individuals.

This provision binds the Crown, Tribunals, Regulators and Public Authorities to respect natural justice which according to the NZ Bill of Rights includes the right not to be deprived of life, the right to refuse medical treatment and the right not to be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation. 

The OIA replies from Health NZ raise deeper issues of human rights and natural justice. There is clearly an admission in the reply to HNZ00013886 that some sections of Health New Zealand believe or possibly have found out that vaccinated individuals have higher rates of all-cause mortality. The Health Act 1956 establishes the founding principles of the NZ Health Service. Its overriding purpose is stated thus: ‘The Ministry shall have the function of improving, promoting, and protecting public health’.

A decision to refuse to investigate an increased rate of all-cause mortality shared by a group who have undergone a specific intervention administered by Health NZ amounts to a violation of the founding legislative principles under which Health NZ operates and a violation of the rights of its patients.

Moreover the continued assertions of Covid vaccine safety can only be seen as an attempt to avoid public accountability and circumvent Provision 27 of the NZ Bill of Rights as explained above.

In this regard, the energies of Health NZ appear to have been misdirected following the data leak from a whistleblower. An article in Stuff titled ‘Covid-19 vaccinators personal details leaked on US blogsite’ details extensive efforts by the Chief Executive of Health NZ, Margie Apa, to investigate whether the anonymised data that was leaked could possibly, with ‘considerable effort and technical expertise’, indicate the identities of some individuals. This is in stark contrast with the OIA replies from Health NZ, which point blank refuse to investigate record levels of actual deaths. Instead Apa doubles down on the unsupported assertion that covid vaccines are safe.

The implication of the Stuff article and the Health NZ response to the data leak is that somehow people raising questions about vaccine safety are rogue operators. This is a classic smear. In my experience, hundreds of NZers are writing to us with their personal stories and those of relatives and friends concerning severe health issues following covid vaccination. Investigating these issues should be among the primary responsibilities and top priorities of Health NZ.

How could investigation of all-cause mortality be sidelined?

I have worked at a genetic testing company. I suspect that Health New Zealand has lacked sufficient independent advice on the known health risks associated with gene therapies and biotechnology manufacturing processes that have been reported extensively in the scientific literature. Instead, the historical reliance on vaccine technology and the presumption of vaccine safety took precedence over caution with a novel biotechnology

In essence, we are used to a linear conception of drug interventions. In the subcellular world of genetic interventions, a linear model needs to be replaced with an expectation of multiple side effects. Some genes undertake as many as 200 functions in conjunction with a multiplicity of other genes. These functions are transmitted through RNA molecules which exhibit a similar complexity of action. It is no surprise that mRNA vaccines might interfere with these fundamental processes and have a diversity of adverse effects in multiple organ systems that could extend to a range of immune system failures. 

In this context, the absence of long-term safety testing and monitoring of all-cause mortality can be potentially catastrophic for long-term public health. Whatever rules have been created under the smokescreen of confidentiality, the net result is that vital clues are being missed, to the detriment of public health and wellbeing. 

I am asking you to reply and elaborate the reasons why Health New Zealand is ignoring safety signals and red flags, while insisting that mRNA vaccines are safe and effective against the mounting evidence of data signals being reported in scientific journals? On what legal basis is Health NZ flouting its fundamental duty to protect public health?

I remain fully supportive of the daily efforts of Health New Zealand staff to help individuals facing a great variety of health challenges, but I know this effort cannot be managed effectively unless sufficient analysis of causal factors is undertaken. 

I don’t see how Health NZ can continue to omit traditionally sanctioned standard safety analysis, when the actual data of all-cause mortality as it relates to covid vaccination status would settle any argument very quickly. 

As Minister of Health, do you plan to overturn the current ban and secrecy surrounding this traditional avenue of safety analysis and if so, when? Will you insist that Health New Zealand rectify errors of judgement and fully investigate any relationship between all-cause mortality and vaccination status broken down by age and condition? There is an urgent need to do so to protect life and an overriding public interest in the outcome.

Court of Appeal decides NZDF Vaccine Mandate Unlawful

The Court of Appeal has upheld an appeal by members of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and reaffirmed that the NZDF COVID-19 vaccine mandate is unlawful. The High Court ruled in 2021 that the government vaccine mandate for all NZDF and uniformed police workers was unlawful. Despite this, the NZDF created its own internal vaccine mandate, forcing those in uniform to get vaccinated or lose their job.

The Court of Appeal ruling held that the NZDF vaccine mandate limited the right to refuse medical treatment and to manifest religious beliefs. It decided that the Chief of Defence Force was not justified in limiting these rights by imposing a vaccine mandate in the way that he did. This is the third time that members of the NZDF have successfully challenged a vaccine mandate.

Clearly the courts have decided that members of the NZDF have rights that were denied to the general public by the previous government and the courts upon whom vaccine mandates were imposed bypassing any redress under the provisions of the NZ Bill of Rights.

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Guy Hatchard
Guy Hatchard
Guy Hatchard PhD is a former senior manager at Genetic ID, a global food testing and certification company. He lives in New Zealand.

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