Higher-Than-Normal UK Death Rate Raises Questions

Higher-Than-Normal UK Death Rate Raises Questions
(Thanakorn.P/Shutterstock)
Ellen Wan
1/27/2024
Updated:
2/2/2024
0:00

Health Viewpoints

In the past two years, the UK has recorded abnormally high death rates. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of registered deaths in England and Wales in the week ending Dec. 1, 2023, was 3.9 percent above the previous five-year average, with COVID-19-related deaths accounting for 1.6 percent. Some scientists point out that the level of protection offered by COVID-19 vaccines might be showing signs of lagging and that it may be necessary to take additional precautionary measures in the future.

The UK was one of the pacesetters in vaccine adoption and holds one of the highest early COVID-19 vaccination rates. They were among the first countries to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for widespread use and began vaccinations on Dec. 8, 2020.

Statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that as of August 2022, more than 90 percent of individuals aged 12 and above in the UK had received at least one dose of vaccine. Furthermore, nearly 90 percent of the population has completed the recommended two-dose regimen. Impressively, approximately 70 percent of citizens have gone a step further by receiving three or more doses.

However, young women showed an increased risk of death from heart disease after the first dose of a non-mRNA vaccine, with the risk 12 weeks after vaccination being 3.5 times higher than the long-term risk. Compared with the general population, people who receive non-mRNA vaccines are more likely to develop severe illness after infection and are at greater risk of adverse complications after vaccination.

In 2022, The Lancet published a research report, in which a pooled analysis of national prospective cohort studies of 30 million people in the UK showed that after initial injection of the COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, the elderly, and patients with multimorbidity had a higher risk of hospitalization and mortality rates. In addition, people with specific underlying health conditions, especially those receiving immunosuppressive treatments and patients with chronic kidney disease, were still at high risk despite receiving booster doses.
Another British study published in July 2023 evaluated the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines in 426,785 patients with kidney disease. The results showed that patients who received two doses of AstraZeneca had increased risk of COVID-19 infection, COVID-19-related hospitalization, COVID-19-related death, and non-COVID-19 death compared with patients who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine by 43, 59, 44 and 9 percents respectively. The consistent findings across various disease subgroups, including dialysis and transplant recipients, underscore the robustness and reliability of the results.

Researchers also found little evidence of any difference in outcomes between patients who had received the first two doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer after both had received their third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic renal failure, refers to the gradual loss of kidney functionality. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and excess fluid from the blood, which are then excreted from the body through urination. Advanced chronic kidney disease can lead to the accumulation of dangerous levels of fluids, electrolytes, and waste products in the body. However, in the early stages, there are few such signs or symptoms.
Some researchers argue that identifying the conditions and risk factors that lead to excessive mortality will help to better focus on high-risk groups as COVID-19 spreads, thereby allowing better response to the challenges posed by it.

Vaccine Protection Unable to Catch Up With COVID-19 Variants

Canadian scientists synthesized evidence on the long-term effectiveness of various COVID-19 vaccines, including those from Pfizer (BNT162b2), Moderna (mRNA-1273), AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19), and Johnson & Johnson (Ad26.COV2.S). Through a systematic analysis of their effectiveness in preventing infection, hospitalization, and death they found that the baseline vaccine effectiveness levels against the omicron variant were significantly lower than those observed for other variants. Therefore, the authors stated, “Other preventive measures might be necessary to manage the pandemic in the long term.”
The authors of the paper wrote, “There are insufficient studies reporting the effectiveness of vaccine boosters in reducing mortality.” The study was published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Other Factors for Higher-Than-Normal Deaths

British official data also shows that in addition to COVID-19 deaths, the main causes of excess deaths include symptoms, signs, and unclear conditions related to old age and frailty, cirrhosis and other liver diseases, cardiac arrhythmias, diabetes, and hypertension, among others.
People with diabetes often suffer most from multiple comorbidities, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, decreased kidney function, neuropathy, and cardiac arrhythmias. Studies have shown that people with diabetes have a twofold to tenfold increased risk of sudden cardiac death compared with people without diabetes.
Arrhythmias occur in 1 percent of people under 55 and up to 5 percent of people over 65. This is especially the case in Western countries where sudden cardiac death caused by arrhythmia (such as ventricular fibrillation) is one of the main causes of death, accounting for 20 percent of the total natural deaths and 50 percent of the total deaths due to cardiovascular diseases.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Epoch Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly debate. To submit an opinion piece, please follow these guidelines and submit through our form here.
Ellen Wan has worked for the Japanese edition of The Epoch Times since 2007.
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