No Evidence to Back Autumn COVID-19 Boosters: UK Mathematician

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is an Irish-based reporter focusing on UK news. Lily first joined the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times before turning her focus on the UK in 2020. Contact Lily at lily.zhou@epochtimes.com
September 2, 2022 Updated: September 14, 2022

There is no longer evidence that suggests anyone should get the COVID-19 vaccines, a British mathematician said as the UK government rolls out another booster campaign ahead of the winter season.

Norman Fenton, professor of risk and information management at the Queen Mary University of London and director of risk assessment software company Agena, told The Epoch Times he used to believe that people at risk of serious illnesses and death from COVID-19 can benefit from the vaccines, but no longer sees “any evidence at all that anybody should get vaccinated” based on more recent data.

Fenton is a member of the Health Advisory and Recovery Team (HART), a group of UK academics who are critical of the government’s response to the pandemic.

Diagnostic pathologist Dr. Clare Craig, also a member of the HART group, called on the government to “get realistic,” saying people can’t be expected to be injected “at great expense every six months,” and that “pushing another vaccination campaign will just ramp up fear again.”

Many mutations in the coronavirus have been observed in its spike protein, which binds to host cell receptors, fuses the virus envelope with the host cell membrane, and starts an infection.

Repeatedly vaccinating people against older versions of the spike protein, Craig argues, is “forcing our immune system to go down one particular strategy” while the virus is “evolving away from having that appearance.” She also said the spike protein, which is included in the COVID-19 vaccines, is the “most damaging” part of the virus.

‘No Evidence’ COVID-19 Vaccines Reduced Mortality

According to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the primary aim of the UK’s autumn booster programme is to increase immunity in those at higher risk of hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 this winter.

The government advisory body said the recommended mRNA vaccines offer “lower and relatively short-lived” protection against infection and mild disease while giving “good protection against severe disease” from coronavirus variants, with the implication being that the vaccines will reduce the number of deaths from COVID-19.

However, Craig and Fenton contended that the vaccines had not demonstrated effectiveness in saving lives.

Craig said there had been no change in the trajectory of global accumulative COVID-19 deaths following the rollout of the vaccines, while Fenton argued that UK all-cause mortality data show “no evidence at all” that the unvaccinated were dying at a higher rate than the vaccinated.

Before the arrival of the Omicron variant, Craig had been convinced by several papers that there was some evidence showing the COVID-19 vaccines were preventing deaths and severe illnesses, she said, but the impact became “really hard to see” when looking at the overall real-world data.

“When you look back at the whole picture, and compare the trajectory of COVID deaths globally, before and after the vaccines, there is no change. When you compare the case fatality rate before and after vaccines, there is no change. … That big differential happened not with the vaccine rollout, it happened with Omicron,” she said.

Epoch Times Photo
Members of the public receive their COVID-19 vaccine or booster at an NHS (National Health Service) bus outside an Asda Supermarket in the town of Farnworth, near Manchester in north-west England on Dec. 20, 2021. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

Fenton has long maintained that the all-cause mortality rate is the best way to assess the risk-benefit of treatments for deadly diseases, and he disputed summary COVID-19 statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) saying they are based on flawed data.

According to the latest ONS data on age-standardized mortality rates (ASMR), between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 31, 2022, the all-cause ASMR per 100,000 person-years was 2337.5 for the unvaccinated population in England and 957.4 for the “ever-vaccinated” category, meaning those who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

When the numbers are broken down by deaths involving COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 deaths, the COVID-19 ASMR was 863.2 for the unvaccinated and 64.5 for the ever-vaccinated, and the non-COVID-19 ASMR was 1474.3 among the unvaccinated, around 65 percent higher than the rate among the ever-vaccinated (892.9).

The last pair of numbers “can’t be right,” Fenton argued, “because that would mean … somehow the vaccines are not just stopping COVID deaths, but they’re stopping non-COVID deaths amongst the vaccinated.”

Fenton also said the numbers “can’t be right” because “the mortality rate for non-COVID deaths amongst the vaccinated, according to their data, is also much lower than the non-COVID mortality historical rates,” adding the anomalies may be attributed to “misclassifying [and] miscounting” the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.

According to pre-pandemic ONS data for England and Wales, the ASMR between 2011 and 2019 ranged between 953 and 993, while the data between 1942 and 2018 fluctuated between 1,017.7 and 2,509.8.

The non-COVID-19 ASMRs between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 31, 2022,  for the groups of people who had received their most recent vaccine doses less than 21 days ago, were also much lower than the pre-pandemic numbers, at 647.5 after the first dose, 513.3 after the second dose, and 567.1 after the third or a booster dose.

Analysing a similar trend in an earlier version of the data set, Fenton, Craig, and other authors said in a non-peer-reviewed preprint paper published in March that the numbers of COVID-19-related and non-COVID-19 deaths reported in the “within 21 days of first-dose” vaccination category were “implausibly low,” and that deaths occurred in the two weeks following first-vaccination appear to have been omitted from the dataset, possibly caused by factors such as miscategorisation, reporting lags, and errors in data handling or transcription.

They also argued the “carefully selected large sample” of the population used by the ONS, which includes those who were both in the 2011 census and registered with a GP in 2019, was not representative of the whole population, and that the ONS estimates of the number of deaths and the proportion of the unvaccinated were too low, affecting the conclusions drawn about the risks and benefits of the vaccines.

In a separate paper published in January, they also said that the non-COVID-mortality rate for unvaccinated age groups 60 to 69, 70 to 79, and the over-80s had peaked “at the same time during the year” in previous years including 2020, but each peaked in 2021 “at the same time as the vaccine rollout peaks for that age group.”

Vaccine Safety

Commenting on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, Fenton said he doesn’t think they are “killing a lot of people” as some would believe but argues “there are enough safety signals,” such as increased rate of myocarditis and pericarditis in young males, that invalidate the idea of giving the vaccines to healthy young people, who are at extremely low risk of dying from COVID-19.

Among the older population, Fenton said the vaccines may have prevented some COVID-19 deaths, but there may also be “a little bit of evidence” that the vaccines may have sped up some elderly’s deaths “by a few weeks.”

“Certainly what I will say is there is no evidence at all that the all-cause mortality of the unvaccinated is any higher than the all-cause mortality of vaccinated,” he said.

Asked about the Yellow Card Scheme—the UK’s medicines adverse reactions reporting system—Fenton criticised the system as being “very poor,” saying it doesn’t collect “any useful information” as the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) does, and that the number of suspected COVID-19-related death reported to VAERS in 18 months was much higher than the deaths that were suspected to be related to all other vaccines combined in the past 32 years.

Epoch Times Photo
Combat medics from Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps vaccinate members of the public at a rapid vaccination centre outside Bolton Town Hall in Bolton, England, on June 9, 2021. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Craig also said the “early warning” indicators have been “blaring red for some time,” referring to adverse reaction alerting systems around the world.

She said it is “quite tricky” to unpick the data and will take a long time to properly measure any problems that may be associated with the vaccines.

Taking shingles as an example, Craig said there is “fairly good circumstantial evidence” and some studies suggesting people are at high risk of shingles after they’ve been vaccinated and there are also “biological reasons why that may be in terms of the immune system being given a knock at the time of vaccination,” but it’s difficult to compare whether shingles actually became more common after the introduction of the vaccines as the pre-vaccination data may have been deflated because “people were not attending their GPs at normal rates” during the lockdowns.

She also said it will take “a long time” to properly measure the risks, citing a study published in 2020, a decade after the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix was rolled out, which found the risk of vaccine-attributable narcolepsy was “higher than previously estimated in England because of identification of vaccine-attributable cases with late diagnoses.”

“We have better big-data systems now in healthcare, which means that shouldn’t take as long, but … with the best will in the world and with everybody wanting to find out how bad something is, it still takes a long time,” she said, adding that “we don’t necessarily have that same motivation here for people to actually find out what’s going on.”

Craig: Vaccines Considered ‘The Only Solution’

Craig attributed the lack of motivation she perceived to decision-makers and influential people fearing that the “vaccines are the only solution to what they still believe is a very dangerous and deadly condition.”

As a result, the “vaccination juggernaut,” which was set off to aim at the vulnerable, “continued down that track, getting [the vaccines] into younger and younger arms more and more often,” she said.

Matt Hancock CCP virus vaccine center
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, visits the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at Epsom Racecourse in Epsom, England, on Jan. 11, 2021. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Craig also said she believes there is “a bit of a sunk cost fallacy that they have bought so many doses of this drug. I think we’ve only used 20 percent of the stockpile that they bought.”

When COVID-19 vaccines were being developed, the UK government pursued a strategy of over-purchasing to make sure there are enough supplies even if one or some of them failed to work.

Craig said it’s “fine” to pursue the strategy, adding, “but having done that, that doesn’t mean you have to then shove them all into people’s arms.”

She said “we can’t enter a world where people are expected to be jabbed at great expense every six months,” calling on the government to “get realistic” and “admit they need to step back” at some point.

According to the latest weekly COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report published on Thursday by the UK Health Security Agency, “vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease with the Omicron variant is substantially lower than against the Delta variant, with rapid waning. However, protection against hospitalisation remains high.”

In an email to The Epoch Times, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We continue to do everything we can to protect the public.

“Our existing COVID vaccines have saved countless lives and continue to allow us to live with this virus without restrictions,” the statement reads.

“Vaccines remain our best defence against serious illness from COVID and eligible people should come forward for their autumn booster when invited.”

Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is an Irish-based reporter focusing on UK news. Lily first joined the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times before turning her focus on the UK in 2020. Contact Lily at lily.zhou@epochtimes.com