Recently, the Daily Sceptic published a piece by Professor Martin Neil, Professor Norman Fenton and Dr. Clare Craig exploring inconsistencies in ONS death data by vaccination status. It argued these inconsistencies point to a worrying trend in mortality in the vaccinated in the period following vaccination, concealed by the miscategorisation of deaths as unvaccinated. In particular, a strange spike in non-Covid deaths in the unvaccinated appeared following the vaccination rollout in each age group (see below). Such a spike must be an artefact of some kind because there is no mechanism by which a vaccination programme can cause all-cause mortality to spike in those not being vaccinated.
In its December report, the ONS offered an explanation for these strange spikes. It is a healthy vaccinee effect, it claimed, i.e., it results from the less healthy and those close to death (the moribund) foregoing vaccination or subsequent doses, meaning the more vaccinated are a healthier group than the less vaccinated. The ONS explains:
The all-cause ASMRs [age-standardised mortality rates] for the year-to-date were lower in the first three weeks after a vaccine dose than in subsequent weeks after that dose. This could be because of a ‘healthy vaccinee effect’ where people who are ill (either due to COVID-19 or another relevant illness) are likely to delay vaccination. Therefore, the people who have been recently vaccinated are, in the short term, in better health than the general population.
In light of this explanation from the ONS, Prof. Neil, Prof. Fenton and colleagues have updated their full-length paper to address it in detail. They point out that in the same December report the ONS makes a contradictory claim, namely that the clinically vulnerable, far from foregoing vaccination, were in fact prioritised for it:
The vaccination roll-out was also prioritised by health status of individuals, with the extremely clinically vulnerable and those with underlying health conditions being vaccinated earlier.
Indeed, Prof. Neil and colleagues note that “there is very little indication that terminally or critically ill patients in the U.K. were less likely to be vaccinated. On the contrary, the NHS Guidelines explicitly state that the most critically ill people are the ones who must be prioritised for vaccination in each age group. Moreover, feedback from palliative care doctors known to the authors confirm that terminally ill patients were indeed prioritised to receive the vaccination.”