Public Health Scotland have stopped the publication of the number of Covid deaths by vaccination status following concerns it is being used as anti-vax propaganda.

Officials have said that they will no longer report on the number of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths by vaccination status on a weekly basis.

It said it will concentreate on "vaccine effectiveness reporting".

The public health watchdog has said that the frequency and content of the data would be reviewed.

PHS has been reporting the number of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths by vaccination status in the weekly COVID-19 statistical report since July 2021.

The watchdog says it was first done to monitor the impact of the vaccination programme on the pandemic, impact on the NHS, and to help understand where to prioritise vaccination delivery.

PHS has stated that the data in the report was never to be used as a measure of vaccine effectiveness but it is now aware of "inappropriate use and misinterpretation of the data when taken in isolation without fully understanding the limitations..."

It said: "Due to the increasing risk of misinterpretation from growing complexities as the Covid-19 pandemic enters its second year, PHS has taken the decision to no longer report Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths by vaccination status on a weekly basis."

The Herald:

Some websites have been using PHS data to publish stories that linking questioning the efficacy of the vaccinations.

One publication has tracked the number of the people who have died within 28 days of receiving the Covid vaccine.

PHS said it will continue to communicate up to date and "high quality" research on Covid-19 vaccines, saying the evidence suggests the vaccine is effective at reducing the risk of a severe outcome, such as hospitalisation when infected.

It said: "However no vaccine is 100% effective and some COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths may still occur, particularly in vulnerable populations."

The watchdog has said that focusing on vaccine effectiveness rather than the existing “very simple statistics” would result in “much more robust” data for the public.

They said: “The main important point around all of the analysis is we understand whether the vaccines are working against catching it and against getting severe Covid, and that’s where the vaccine effectiveness studies come in which are a completely different methodology.

"The case rates, hospitalisation rates, the death rates are very simple statistics, whereas for the vaccine effectiveness studies we use modelling, we compare people who have tested negative to those who have tested positive and match them on their underlining co-morbidities.

"It’s a completely different method which is much more robust and that’s what we want people to focus on.”

The watchdog said that eecent changes in testing behaviour and policies, including the fact that asymptomatic people no longer need a Covid PCR test, limits their ability to robustly identify and monitor cases by vaccination status.

"This means we cannot confidently compare recent case trends to historical data," it said.

"Individuals who have not completed their vaccine schedule may be more susceptible to a severe outcome and could result in higher Covid 19 cases, hospitalisation and death rates in the first and second dose vaccine groups," it said. "For example, some of the older individuals who have exceeded the recommended time will have not received their next vaccine dose because of frailty or ill health. They may, therefore, be more likely to be hospitalised or die if they get COVID-19. Comparison of hospitalisation and death rates is therefore inappropriate."

It said vaccination effectiveness studies were needed to examine the "complicated" data and evaluate how well they are working.

The watchdog further explained: "Vaccinations have not been given to the entire population at the same time with certain groups given priority before others. People are on different timelines since vaccination, dose schedules (e.g. some groups are not eligible for a booster) and vaccine types creating difficulties when making broad comparisons across the population by vaccine status.

"A number of people have not completed or exceeded their recommended dose schedule. This leads to reduced protection from the vaccine over time. Such differences between people impacts how we interpret the rates by vaccine status, for example the level of vaccine protection is expected to be higher in someone who had their first dose four weeks ago compared to another who had their first dose one year ago and didn’t have the required second dose as per the vaccination schedule. Comparison of case rates is therefore inappropriate."