By: Rebekah Barnett
The argument for Collective Good is on shaky ground
Is NSW Health aware that there are barely any unvaccinated patients being hospitalised with Covid? In last week’s Covid surveillance report, there were 0 (zero) unvaccinated patients hospitalised with Covid. In the past 3 months, there was a grand total of 21 unvaccinated patients (0.2%) out of a total 9, 348 Covid hospitalisations.
I’ll let that sink in.
The remaining 9, 327 is comprised of:
4+ dosed (1, 935),
3 dosed (3, 274),
2 dosed (1, 762),
1 dosed (122),
Unknown (2, 234).
NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard’s vaccinations may be up to date, but unfortunately, his Covid FAQs are not.
Incidentally, the NSW Covid FAQs are out of date in more ways than one. They state that vaccinated people have less chance of catching and spreading Covid, but the latest NSW booster drive campaign exemplifies the messaging pivot we are seeing nationally and internationally. Government and health officials are moving away from ‘Vaccines protect the community by preventing infection and transmission’ to, ‘Vaccines protect the community by preventing hospitalisation. Save our hospitals!’.
Sneaky of NSW Health to use the phrase “may not always stop you catching COVID-19” instead of the more truthful ‘won’t stop you catching COVID-19.’ I want to get into the data so I won’t get bogged down in the transmission/infection prevention narrative, but I mention it here to highlight that public messaging has moved on from the idea that vaccines prevent infection, or transmission, and this is significant for reasons which I will explain in the conclusion.
It’s 3 months, or a full quarter, since NSW reverted to publishing the full breakdown of ‘with Covid’ hospitalisations and deaths by vaccination dosage. Twitter user @LCHF_Matt has put his data skills to good use in creating this data sheet, which allows us to view the rate of hospitalisations and deaths with Covid by vaccination status, week by week. The below graphs show cases by vaccination status count on a per 1M population basis (total measured events divided by the count of the population with that vaccination dosage x 1 million), which allows us to see the rate of hospitalisation and death for each group relative to the proportion of the population that shares the same dosage status. This is important, because viewing raw numbers does not account for the fact that the majority of the NSW population has now received one or more dose of Covid vaccination.
1. Per the headline, there are barely any unvaccinated people in hospital with Covid. The risk multiplier for vaccinated vs. unvaccinated is 51.5, meaning that it is 51.5 times more likely that a patient hospitalised with Covid is vaccinated than unvaccinated. The 4+ dosed group is over represented by a factor of 1.9 in with Covid hospitalisations.
2. The 4+ dose group is also over represented in deaths by a factor of 2.1. The 3 dose group is over represented, but by a much slimmer margin. The risk multiplier for vaccinated vs. unvaccinated with Covid deaths is 1, which means that the unvaccinated are represented in Covid deaths to the same proportion that they are represented in the general population.
3. Unknown vaccination cases make 23.9% of hospitalisations but only 2.4% of deaths. Why? It seems strange that NSW Health cannot determine the vaccination status of nearly ¼ hospitalisations, but they can do so for almost all deaths. At the same time, only 0.2% of hospitalisations are 0 dosed, yet this group makes up 13.25% of deaths. In the other groups (1, 2 and 3 doses) the rate of death tracks more closely to the rate hospitalisation. See the below graph comparing rates of with Covid hospitalisation (bright blue) against deaths (navy) over combined epidemiological weeks 21-33. The disparity between the high hospitalisation rate and low death rate of Unknowns against the low hospitalisation rate and higher death rate of 0 dosed is striking.
4. Covid cases in NSW are more prevalent in younger age groups, whereas Covid deaths are overwhelmingly occurring in the 70+ age group. The below chart shows NSW case data from the past 30 days compared with cumulative NSW Covid deaths from the beginning of the pandemic until 25 August 2022. The ratio of deaths shown below mirrors what we see from the past 13 weeks of surveillance data.
Additional observations from the NSW surveillance reports
(which can all be found HERE)
5. Aged care deaths account for 774/1645 deaths with Covid from this period, or 47%.
6. 77/1645 of deaths with Covid occurred at home.
7. For weeks 21-30, NSW Health gave a tally of the number of deaths with Covid under the age of 65. During this 10 week period, there were 76 deaths with Covid in the under 65 group (4.6% of total deaths). 73/76 of these people (96%) were reported to have died with significant comorbidities. From weeks 31 onwards, NSW Health stops reporting on the number of deaths under 65 and on associated comorbidities.
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