Debunked: UK undertaker's claim that Covid vaccine is responsible for spike in deaths

Rory

Senior Member.
Milton Keynes-based funeral director/undertaker John O'Looney is a vocal Covid denier who has also claimed that he witnessed a massive spike in the death rate once the vaccine began to be administered - something he says he had predicted two or three months previously.



Source: https://twitter.com/RealJoelSmalley/status/1418611723049779203


What's actually going on, however, seems to be a mixture of confirmation bias, natural death rate trends, and ignoring a wave of Covid cases that started in November.

First of all, here's a chart showing death rates in England and Wales by month:


https://www.statista.com/statistics/1115077/monthly-deaths-in-england-and-wales/

As we can see, January to March - when he says "the death rate went through the roof" - is always the period of year with the highest number of deaths. In this chart, even before Covid, January experienced an average of around 25% more deaths than December, with 2017/2018 showing around a 42% increase.

That's part one of the explanation. Part two is due to a wave of coronavirus cases between November and February. Here's the chart showing cases for Milton Keynes, peaking on December the 29th with 582 cases:

1632407411768.png
https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/cases?areaType=ltla&areaName=Milton Keynes

And here's the chart showing deaths, with the peak occuring the 12th-14th of January (32 deaths over those 3 days):

1632407531395.png
https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/deaths?areaType=ltla&areaName=Milton Keynes

As we can see, number of cases and number of deaths are very closely linked, with the deaths curve generally following, as expected, around two weeks after the cases curve.

One can also view data for the number of vaccinations -

1632407720762.png
https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/vaccinations?areaType=ltla&areaName=Milton Keynes

- and notice that there is no correlation between number of vaccinations and number of deaths.

In a nutshell: O'Looney was already deep down the rabbit hole; he had a theory that deaths would increase because of the vaccine (he believes it's a "cull" of the most vulnerable); and when a Covid wave somewhat coincided with the roll out of the vaccine (though not really) he put two and two together, ignored natural seasonal variations, and came up with "conspiracy".

(Note: searches for O'Looney show him giving interviews to the BBC during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. He has claimed, however, that he was told the answers he was expected to give - as well as how to dress - so as to support the government narrative.)

(Credit to Deirdre and Mendel for locating the relevant data.)
 
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Wade_UK

New Member
My first reaction was that O'Looney was a fake name, as looney is slang for lunatic!

But on searching I find that his funeral business in Milton Keynes was incorporated in Feb 2017 (source: Filing History on Companies House), and that there are 9 other funeral firms in Milton Keynes (source: Yell.com).

To corroborate his claim, order books from his and the other nine undertakers could be analysed for the supposed relationship.

But as far as the official statistics go, it is also possible that a resident of Milton Keynes dies in a hospital outside the area, e.g. in London, and so their death doesn't get counted locally, but the funeral does.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
But as far as the official statistics go, it is also possible that a resident of Milton Keynes dies in a hospital outside the area, e.g. in London, and so their death doesn't get counted locally, but the funeral does.
I think that depends on which statistics you look at.
Typically, I'd expect them to use the place of residence, though, as the local authorities do keep track of their residents.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
But as far as the official statistics go, it is also possible that a resident of Milton Keynes dies in a hospital outside the area, e.g. in London, and so their death doesn't get counted locally, but the funeral does.

It wasn't that he was wrong about the increase in number of deaths, though, just about the reason for them.
 
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Wade_UK

New Member

Mendel

Senior Member.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) stated early on, 31st March 2020, that place of death as recorded on the death certificate was used in the statistics, not place of residence. (Source: Deaths relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) Published 31 March 2020).
in the UK, it depend on who you ask.
And here's the chart showing deaths, with the peak occuring the 12th-14th of January (32 deaths over those 3 days):

1632407531395.png
https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/deaths?areaType=ltla&areaName=Milton Keynes
Click on "About" to see this:
Deaths are allocated to the deceased's usual area of residence.
Content from External Source
 

Wade_UK

New Member
in the UK, it depend on who you ask.

Click on "About" to see this:
Deaths are allocated to the deceased's usual area of residence.
Content from External Source
The About the Data webpage goes on to say that, for England, :
Postcode of residence for deaths is obtained from the information collected at the time of testing and is supplemented, where available, with information from ONS mortality records, Health Protection Team reports, and NHS Digital Patient Demographic Service records.

On 16 June 2021 the way deaths are allocated to local authorities and regions in England changed to take account of the address at death registration first. Because of this, the cumulative number of deaths in each affected local authority and region changed. This improvement means that there will be fewer changes to the geographical allocation of historical death counts in future.
 
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