The more vaccine doses an area of England has received, the greater the number of excess deaths it has experienced, an analysis of official data for England has found – adding to worries that the novel Covid vaccines are contributing to the sharp rise in excess deaths seen since mid-2021.
The analysis looked at excess death rates and vaccination rates for all 300-plus lower tier administrative areas in England. It used the pre-pandemic five-year average (2015-19) as a baseline and controlled for confounding factors such as age and deprivation by comparing the findings in the vaccination era to those in the first Covid wave, before vaccines were available (Figure 1).
In the first wave (March 15th to June 21st 2020) the areas which would go on to be more highly vaccinated had lower excess deaths on average (the reference vaccination coverage is as of March 7th 2021, first dose only). This is a result of the healthy vaccinee effect, whereby people who choose to get vaccinated tend on average also to be people who had better health outcomes pre-vaccine (note that vaccination and health both tend to correlate with wealth). As a result, even if the vaccine was a placebo that had no effect, more vaccinated areas would have fewer excess deaths on average than less vaccinated areas. The downward slope in the chart above is thus a baseline for what happens after vaccine rollout. After the vaccination rollout, if the slope becomes steeper then it means that the more-vaccinated areas have even lower excess deaths than they did before the rollout, indicating the vaccine may be lowering the death rate and saving lives as intended. On the other hand, if the slope becomes shallower or reverses direction then it means something is counteracting the background health advantage of the more-vaccinated areas, suggesting the vaccines may be having the opposite effect to the intended one and increasing excess deaths.
The analysis looked at the three periods of excess deaths in England after the vaccine rollout (Figure 2). These are, broadly, the Alpha period of winter 2020-21 (December 20th 2020 to March 7th 2021), the Delta period of the second half of 2021 (June 27th 2021 to January 9th 2022) and the Omicron period of 2022 (March 27th 2022 to January 1st 2023) – though it’s important to keep in mind that for the Delta and Omicron periods many or most of the excess deaths were not Covid related.