More evidence that American data may badly overstate the protection mRNA shots offer against hospitalization from Covid
An internal database from two suburban Chicago hospitals reveals the bias; for health authorities, this skew is a feature, not a bug.
An internal database from a Chicago-area medical system offers new evidence hospitals are inflating how many unvaccinated people are hospitalized for Covid.
Many patients listed as having “unknown” Covid vaccination status and grouped with the unvaccinated are actually Covid-jabbed, the database suggests.
The system, which includes two medium-sized suburban hospitals west of Chicago, itself acknowledges in the database that it overestimates the number of unvaccinated patients - though it does not know by how much.
This error may sound minor and technical. In fact, it is crucial.
Knowing how many patients are vaccinated and how many are not is the first step in figuring out if mRNA shots reduce hospitalizations from Covid.
If hospitals are systematically misclassifying vaccinated patients as unjabbed, the endlessly repeated claim that unvaccinated people are at much higher risk of being hospitalized from Covid becomes impossible to trust, much less verify.
(THE TRUTH HURTS. NOT KNOWING IT HURTS MORE!)
Covid vaccine skeptics have pointed out this potential flaw before.
But figures from the hospital system - called Edward-Elmhurst Health - offer new and powerful evidence it is real, from an unexpected direction.
In an internal dashboard, Edward-Elmhurst includes Covid vaccination figures not just for Covid patients but for all patients. (Last year, Edward-Elmhurst merged with an even larger Illinois hospital system, but this database does not include the other hospitals. A hospital employee with access to it provided screenshots from it as well as proof of employment.)
Hospitals should have no incentive to misclassify vaccination status for non-Covid patients. And as long as Covid vaccinations don’t change the odds someone is hospitalized for non-Covid illnesses, inpatient trends should reflect vaccination levels in the broader population around the hospital.
The two Edward-Elmhurst hospitals are located about 30 miles west of downtown Chicago, in suburban DuPage County. Even by blue-state standards, DuPage is very highly vaccinated against Covid. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 98.5 percent of adults over 65 in DuPage have received two or more Covid vaccine doses.
Put another way, only 1.5 percent of country residents over 65 are unvaccinated.
As of this morning, the two hospitals reported caring for 293 non-Covid patients over 65. Based on the local population averages, only four of those 293 should be unvaccinated.
Yet the internal hospital system database listed 82 of those 293 non-Covid patients over 65 as having “unvaccinated or unknown” Covid vaccine status. In other words, the hospital is reporting about 20 times as many people over 65 as potentially unvaccinated as would be expected from a random sample - 82, compared to four.)
(Friday’s Edward-Elmhurst hospital database for its NON-Covid patients - note that “Not Vaccinated/Unknown” are lumped together.)
Why the discrepancy?
The United States does not have a national immunization registry or single database for health-care records. To determine if patients are vaccinated, hospitals must ask them or their caregivers or examine whatever medical records they have or can access. Like many other medical systems, Edward-Elmhurst uses databases from a privately held company called Epic Systems Corporation.
The dashboard itself warns that “vaccination status is reflecting what we have available in epic, there may be a few patients who were vaccinated out of state or in other facilities which might not be reflected in the dashboard.”
Edward-Elmhurst does not try to define how many “a few” might be or provide more accurate figures.
(NOTE: THIS SECTION IS A BIT TECHNICAL, FEEL FREE TO SKIP.)
On Friday morning, Edward-Elmhurst also reported six of its 20 Covid patients over 65 were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status. That’s 30 percent - a figure which almost exactly matches the percentage of the non-Covid patients who were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status.
In other words, at least in this sample, the mRNA jabs appear just as effective at preventing hospitalizations from non-Covid illnesses as from Covid itself. About 30 percent of older patients are “unvaccinated” for both Covid and non-Covid diseases, while only 1.5 percent of the surrounding population is.
The shots stop non-Covid illness too!
Obviously, that theory is absurd. Even the biggest vaccine fanatics don’t claim that the shots cut the chance of non-Covid diseases.
In reality, the fact that the database shows the same reduced risk in the “Not Vaccinated/Unknown” category for Covid and non-Covid patients suggests that the vaccines are doing little to reduce hospitalizations of Covid patients, at least at this point.
Otherwise, the database would show a much higher percentage of “Not Vaccinated/Unknown” Covid patients than “Not Vaccinated/Unknown” non-Covid patients, because the real excess in risk would combine with problems in collecting accurate data on vaccine status.
So how many of those six people are actually vaccinated? No one knows.
Edward-Elmhurst and other hospitals that classify their data this way are not deliberately doing anything wrong.
But when they then provide their internal figures to public health agencies that calculate how well the vaccines work, those agencies then drop the “unknown” category and classify Covid patients who are not known to be vaccinated as unvaccinated.
Suddenly the mRNA jabs suddenly reduce the risk of Covid hospitalization by three or five or even 10 times - even though many studies show they do nothing to prevent Omicron infection. (In fact, a big new Dutch study suggests people who received a booster may have a 30 to 60 percent higher risk of catching Omicron than the unvaccinated.)
Public health really is magic!