‘No Discernable Relationship’ Between Vaccination Rate and New COVID-19 Cases Across 68 Countries: Study

By Author:
2,985 0
People wait in line for COVID-19 vaccines at Kedren Community Health Center on January 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. A new study by a Harvard and a Turner Fenton scientist published in the European Journal of Epidemiology has found “no discernible relationship” between vaccine acceptance rate and increasing positive PCR test count in 68 countries and 2947 U.S. counties.
People wait in line for COVID-19 vaccines at Kedren Community Health Center on January 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. A new study by a Harvard and a Turner Fenton scientist published in the European Journal of Epidemiology has found “no discernible relationship” between vaccine acceptance rate and increasing positive PCR test count in 68 countries and 2,947 U.S. counties. (Image: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

A recent study examining data across 68 countries, including 2,947 counties located in the United States, has found no apparent relationship between the COVID-19 vaccine acceptance rate and increasing positive test count, calling the logic of the notion that mandatory injections are the way to save the world from the pandemic into question. 

The study, published on Sept. 30 in the European Journal of Epidemiology, was conducted between a researcher from the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and the Turner Fenton Secondary School in Canada relying on data from aggregator platform Our World in Data.

The sole reliance on vaccination as a primary strategy to mitigate COVID-19 and its adverse consequences needs to be re-examined, especially considering the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant and the likelihood of future variants

The introduction to the study states the reasoning for taking a second look at the data, “Vaccines currently are the primary mitigation strategy to combat COVID-19 around the world. For instance, the narrative related to the ongoing surge of new cases in the United States (US) is argued to be driven by areas with low vaccination rates.” 

It notes that “a similar narrative also has been observed” in locales such as Germany and the United Kingdom, including Israel, a country “that was hailed for its swift and high rates of vaccination,” but has, unfortunately, “also seen a substantial resurgence in COVID-19 cases.”

The duo focused on 68 countries matching criteria that “had second dose vaccine data available; had COVID-19 case data available; had population data available; and the last update of data was within 3 days prior to or on September 3, 2021.”

“For the 7 days preceding September 3, 2021 we computed the COVID-19 cases per 1 million people for each country as well as the percentage of population that is fully vaccinated.”

In its United States county-level data, the team utilized official data from the White House COVID-19 team, excluding counties “that did not report fully vaccinated population percentage data,” resulting in 2,947 points of data for their analysis.

The study notes that it calculated its percentage increase in COVID cases “based on the difference in cases from the last 7 days and the 7 days preceding them.”

READ MORE:

The findings of the analysis were in sharp contrast to the pro-vaccine narrative cited by the authors in the study’s preamble, “At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days.”

“In fact, the trend line suggests a marginally positive association such that countries with higher percentage of population fully vaccinated have higher COVID-19 cases per 1 million people.”

The researchers continue, “Notably, Israel with over 60% of their population fully vaccinated had the highest COVID-19 cases per 1 million people in the last 7 days.” 

“The lack of a meaningful association between percentage population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases is further exemplified, for instance, by comparison of Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.”

In the supplementary data, some of the more egregious specific examples were [emphasis added]:

  • United States – 3,039 cases per million – 51.91 percent vaccination rate
  • Israel – 6,224 cases per million – 62.51 percent vaccination rate
  • Mongolia – 4,745 cases per million – 62.99 percent vaccination rate
  • Cyprus – 1,800 cases per million – 58.85 percent vaccination rate
  • Greece – 1,661 cases per million – 55.43 percent vaccination rate
  • Iceland – 1,202 cases per million – 76.82 percent vaccination rate
  • India – 182 cases per million – 10.9 percent vaccination rate
  • Vietnam – 820 cases per million – 2.78 percent vaccination rate
  • Taiwan – 2.2 cases per million – 3.93 percent vaccination rate

The study found a similar phenomenon in its analysis of U.S. counties, adding, “Notably there is also substantial county variation in new COVID-19 cases within categories of percentage population fully vaccinated.”

In a graph representing the data, the study showed that case counts per 100,000 in the previous 7 days were all between 600 and 1,000 in counties that had between 50 and 70+ percent vaccine acceptance rates. 

The duo also noted that the CDC’s own transmission risk data contradicts the official narrative, “Of the top 5 counties that have the highest percentage of population fully vaccinated (99.9–84.3%), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies 4 of them as ‘High’ Transmission counties.”

“Conversely, of the 57 counties that have been classified as ‘low’ transmission counties by the CDC, 26.3% (15) have percentage of population fully vaccinated below 20%.”

In order to compensate for the consideration that fully vaccinated status is expected to not occur until 14 days after the receipt of the second dose, the researchers “conducted sensitivity analyses by using a 1-month lag on the percentage population fully vaccinated for countries and US counties.”

“The above findings of no discernable association between COVID-19 cases and levels of fully vaccinated was also observed when we considered a 1-month lag on the levels of fully vaccinated.”

The pair concluded, “Other pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions may need to be put in place alongside increasing vaccination rates. Such course correction, especially with regards to the policy narrative, becomes paramount with emerging scientific evidence on real world effectiveness of the vaccines.”

In their dissent, the team relied on a study from Israel’s Ministry of Health that showed a double dose of the Pfizer injection was only 39 percent effective, far short of the 96 percent demonstrated in testing. 

“It is also emerging that immunity derived from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may not be as strong as immunity acquired through recovery from the COVID-19 virus,” said the article, citing an August 25 preprint study that examined anonymized health records from one of Israel’s four mandatory health care providers.

The conclusion also expressed concern with recent findings that the new breed of gene therapy vaccines are only able to supply antibodies for as little as six months.

“In summary, even as efforts should be made to encourage populations to get vaccinated it should be done so with humility and respect. Stigmatizing populations can do more harm than good,” cautioned the scientists.

The duo closed the study with an emphasis on rationally approaching our world’s hottest new disease, “Importantly, other non-pharmacological prevention efforts (e.g., the importance of basic public health hygiene with regards to maintaining safe distance or handwashing, promoting better frequent and cheaper forms of testing) needs to be renewed in order to strike the balance of learning to live with COVID-19 in the same manner we continue to live a 100 years later with various seasonal alterations of the 1918 Influenza virus.”

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.