Public Health has responded to an open letter published by Express today, which the department says has "misrepresented" some of the data collated during the covid-19 pandemic.
Both letters have been published in full.
The open letter written in response by Public Health is published in full below and can also be downloaded HERE.
Date: 23 September 2022
Thank you for giving HSC the opportunity to respond to this reader’s letter. Whilst we are not provided with details of the author, we are confident that this letter has been written by someone who has been in regular correspondence with us regarding many COVID-19 issues.
A considerable amount of data been requested over the last couple of years through the States Freedom of Information Policy. Our most recent detailed response can be found here CHttpHandler.ashx (gov.gg).
Providing data outside of our normal reporting cycle diverts staff resources away from other matters. Whilst we are happy to provide information requested it is disappointing when the data is then repeatedly misinterpreted and shared with others stating incorrect and misleading key findings.
Your reader’s conclusions with regard to death data statistics do not reflect a proportionate handling of the data. If you read our full response on the link above, you will note that this response clearly states:
Please note the following limitations of the table above:
We provide these figures in the hope that if you share this information with other parties in any format you will include the statement of limitations above.
The letter we have been asked to comment on does not reference these caveats and draws the very type of conclusions that we have cautioned against.
Your reader suggests that data was not forthcoming and required ‘months of chasing’. This is incorrect. On requesting the data, the reader was advised that the death data was not yet available. The data was supplied at the earliest opportunity.
Taking your readers other claims in turn:
It appears your reader has reached the above figures by comparing average figures for 2018+2019 to average figures for 2020+2021 expressed as a percentage of the first period. We cannot support this approach to data-handling and would wish to see the use of statistically appropriate methods to control for confounding factors and small-number volatility to ensure a secure foundation for making interpretations about change over time. The same approach has been applied to the hospitalisation data. Again, relevant methods and controls need to be applied. However, a reduction in hospitalisations (thereby protecting our hospital resources) would be an indicator that lockdown measures worked successfully by preventing the spread of infections between people. It follows that without the measures to protect the hospital, reductions would not have occurred.
As we have not been provided with the data received in response to the Freedom of Information request submitted to the MHRA, we are unable to provide any context to this claim.
It is important to note that reporting can occur for symptoms that are known side effects of the vaccine, i.e. tenderness at the injection site, which is clearly documented as a side effect.
All islanders receive information on yellow card reporting each time they receive a vaccination. We therefore disagree with the assertion that “Many islanders won’t necessarily be aware of the yellow card reporting system and sadly this means that these numbers are likely to be higher.”
Where family members suspect the vaccine has caused a fatality, they, or a medical practitioner, can make a MHRA Yellow Card submission to suggest that the vaccine may have caused a fatality. If/when HSC is advised of any such suspicion, a full investigation will take place and, should this be found to be true, will be reflected in future cause of death data. It would be wrong to assume that the vaccine is the sole cause of death in anyone without these necessary investigations taking place.
We would disagree with the assertion that little context or substantiation to the decision-making process was provided during the COVID-19 response. Indeed, the island has been commended on its approach to open public communications through detailed media briefings, press releases and guidance notes and the sharing of data on which decisions were made. From the earliest possible point, members of the public were provided opportunities to ask questions through the clinical helpline, the non-clinical helpline, and dedicated email addresses.
Finally, now this data is being made public, Dr Brink and your deputies seem to have fallen silent
Public Health has engaged repeatedly with the reader over data requests and has provided guidance on data interpretation, including pointing out where we feel misinterpretations have been made. The team remains committed to the use of evidence to inform decision-making both now and in the future.