Dear Public Health Scotland,

The COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report Week 36 report from Public Health England (PHE) shows for the first time the differences in the "COVID-19 case" rate between "Rates among persons vaccinated with 2 doses (per 100,000)" and "Rates among persons not vaccinated (per 100,000)". This information is presented in Table 4 of the Week 36 report and clearly shows that the "COVID-19 case" rate per 100,000 persons is higher for the 2 dose vaccinated group than the unvaccinated group for the 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70-79 age groups.

Whilst it may be tempting to say "the drugs don't work", at least in the long term, this is early data and needs further analysis. PHS will appreciate that a full and unambiguous understanding to the definitions used is required when interpreting complex data sets.

As a FOISA 2002 request please provide the recorded definition of a "COVID-19 case" that Public Health Scotland (PHS) are using in their reports to the Scottish Government (Scottish Ministers) and external publications.

To be clear the information requested is not what is a “symptomatic case" or an “asymptomatic case” is it simply asks for the definition of a “COVID-19 case" where information or data or statistics are associated with that descriptor alone.

Thanks for the response or the link to information in the public domain.

Yours faithfully,

J Grove

phs foi, Public Health Scotland

1 Atodiad

Dear J Grove,

 

PHS Freedom of Information Reference 2021-000928

 

Thank you for your request for information received by Public Health
Scotland on 16^th September 2021 requesting information about.

 

‘’ The COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report Week 36 report from Public
Health England (PHE) shows for the first time the differences in the
"COVID-19 case" rate between "Rates among persons vaccinated with 2 doses
(per 100,000)" and "Rates among persons not vaccinated (per 100,000)".
This information is presented in Table 4 of the Week 36 report and clearly
shows that the "COVID-19 case" rate per 100,000 persons is higher for the
2 dose vaccinated group than the unvaccinated group for the 40-49, 50-59,
60-69 and 70-79 age groups.

 

Whilst it may be tempting to say "the drugs don't work", at least in the
long term, this is early data and needs further analysis. PHS will
appreciate that a full and unambiguous  understanding to the definitions
used is required when interpreting complex data sets.

 

As a FOISA 2002 request please provide the recorded definition of a
"COVID-19 case" that Public Health Scotland (PHS) are using in their
reports to the Scottish Government (Scottish Ministers) and external
publications.

 

To be clear the information requested is not what is a “symptomatic case"
or an “asymptomatic case” is it simply asks for the definition of a
“COVID-19 case" where information or data or statistics are associated
with that descriptor alone.’’

 

Your request is being dealt with and will be answered within 20 working
days in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Saba ALSalahy FOI Coordinator

Public Health Scotland

Email: [1][email address]

[2]cid:image001.jpg@01D748A9.AC294E20

[3]Web | [4]Twitter | [5]Instagram

 

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so that we can comply with our legal obligations to respond to FOI and
environmental information requests. For further details about our use of
personal information, please see our Privacy Notice at
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phs foi, Public Health Scotland

2 Atodiad

Dear J Grove,

 

PHS Freedom of Information Reference: 2021-000928

 

Please find attached our response to your freedom of information request.

 

I hope this information is helpful to you.Please do not hesitate to
contact me on [1][email address] if I can be of any further assistance.

 

If you are unhappy with our response to your request, you do have the
right to request us to review it. Your request should be made within 40
working days of receipt of this correspondence, and we will reply within
20 working days of receipt. The review will be undertaken by a reviewer
who was not involved in the original decision-making process. The reviewer
can be contacted as follows:

 

The FOI Reviewer

Public Health Scotland

Gyle Square

1 South Gyle Crescent

Edinburgh

EH12 9EB

Email: [2][email address]

 

Please note that Public Health Scotland staff are working from home
currently in line with the COVID-19 pandemic guidance. Therefore, contact
by email is preferable.

 

If our decision is unchanged following a review and you remain
dissatisfied with this, you then have the right to make a formal complaint
to the Scottish Information Commissioner within 6 months of receipt of our
review response. You can do this by using the Scottish Information
Commissioner’s Office online appeals service at
[3]www.itspublicknowledge.info/Appeal. If you remain dissatisfied with the
Commissioner’s response you then have the option to appeal to the Court of
Session on a point of law.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Saba ALSalahy FOI Coordinator

Public Health Scotland

Email: [4][email address]

[5]cid:image001.jpg@01D748A9.AC294E20

[6]Web | [7]Twitter | [8]Instagram

 

Your privacy:  we use your personal information such as name and address
so that we can comply with our legal obligations to respond to FOI and
environmental information requests. For further details about our use of
personal information, please see our Privacy Notice at
https://www.publichealthscotland.scot/ou...

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Public Health Scotland,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Public Health Scotland's handling of my FOI request 'What is the PHS definition of a "COVID-19 case"?'.

Thanks for the definition of a "COVID-19 case" has the following definition recorded by PHS:

COVID-19 cases are identified as the following: An individual that has tested positive for COVID-19 by PCR. If an individual tests positive more than once, the repeat positive PCR test is only counted if the positive PCR test is more than 90 days apart. Records with missing CHI numbers are excluded as these data cannot be linked to vaccination status.

The information provided has to either be partial (in other words a more precise definitions exists on PHS systems) or PHS are del8berately covering up the deficits of the tests upon which a "COVID-19 case" is defined. It would reasonably be expected for the definition to be thorough the exact PCR test would be cited. In other words if the PCR test used is that published (in a hurry) by Christian Drosten then this would be detailed in the definition. The definition of a "COVID-19 case" should therefore cite the reference for the test that will identify the following information:

1. The sequence DNA primers used.

2. The positive control used (i.e. the virus or sequence of the mRNA standard).

3. The cycle threshold (Ct) above which the positive test result is considered to be unreliable.

Information in the public domain shows that PHS accepts positive test results from tests that have run at a Ct value of up to 40. Information accessible online suggests (this information may or may not be correct) that a positive test result run at a Ct value of 35 has a 97% probability of being a false positive.

As part of the internal review please source the literature citation that PHS uses to define the "PCR Test" from which the "COVID-19 cases" are derived is requested. An absence of this information might suggest that PHS is not demonstrating scientific rigour and is publishing “COVID-19 case" data and statistics based on an undefined test.

Thanks for performing this review.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w...

Yours faithfully,

J Grove

phs foi, Public Health Scotland

1 Atodiad

Dear J Grove

 

Request for Internal Review - Freedom of Information Reference:
2021-000928

 

I refer to your email dated 4 October 2021 in which you requested an
internal review of the response made for Freedom of Information reference
2021-000928.

 

I have referred your query to the department which provided the response
to your original request. In response to your queries, the relevant
department have advised the following;

 

Current advice on diagnostic testing for SARS CoV-2 by the World Health
Organization can be found here: -

[1]https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/...

 

There are a variety of commercial PCR tests currently in use in Scotland
to confirm the presence of the virus SARS CoV-2, all of which are
regulated and approved by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory
Agency (MHRA), and thereafter validated for use by the Scottish laboratory
performing the test.  It is not the remit of Public Health Scotland to
validate PCR tests.

 

NHS laboratories and UK Government Lighthouse laboratories perform quality
control procedures as part of the routine work flow. These include the use
of:

 

1. Positive control material to show that the assay is working correctly.

2. Internal control material to show that extraction is working correctly.
This is not coronavirus related material and so cannot be confused with a
positive result for SARS-CoV-2.

3. Negative control material to show that cross contamination has not
occurred.

 

NHS laboratories also take part in external quality control schemes for
example QCMD. Public Health Scotland does not hold information on the
specific quality processes being used at individual laboratory level.

 

There are a number of factors involved in the interpretation of a PCR test
and are dependent on individual manufacturers and local validation. Ct
values are not directly comparable between assays and may not be reported
by some PCR platforms in use. Individual laboratories will hold details of
the Ct reached for each individual specimen and have quality systems in
place to ensure the veracity of the results.

 

The false positive rates are dependent on sensitivity and specificity
values. They in turn are dependent on a number of factors, including the
assay used, the population sampled, how the sample is taken and stored,
type of sample, and stage of infection. These factors are variable at
different periods of time, and across different laboratories and regions
of Scotland. It is therefore not possible to give one percentage value
which is representative of the sensitivity or specificity value of the PCR
test in Scotland. There is a reflex testing procedure in place for NHS
Scotland Laboratories which was put in place to reduce the likelihood of
false positive results. This consists of all positive PCR results with a
high Ct value (level of which is dictated following local validation) are
repeated on a different platform to confirm or refute original result.

 

I hope this information is helpful to you.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me on [2][email address] if I can be
of any further assistance.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Chaz Anyanwu | Freedom of Information Officer

Public Health Scotland

Email: [3][email address]

[4]Title: Public Health Scotland logo - Description: The Public Health
Scotland logo

[5]Web | [6]Twitter | [7]Instagram

 

 

 

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Dear phs foi,

Thanks for all of the extra information and the link to the World Health Organisation (WHO) website relating to PCR testing. This communication implies that definition of a COVID-19 PCR test used by PHS is that the PCR test must be approved by the WHO but this is not explicitly stated in the definition by PHS. Whilst on the surface this may seem to be a minor point it is an important one. It should be known to the public that the PCR test that is used in Scotland to measure “case rates" is based on the recommendations of an organisation that is funded by the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who have “skin in the game" so to speak in “vaccinating" the population of the planet.

PHS should know that the positive controls provided by the MHRA are genetic sequences (not the full length virus) and questions have been raised in the public domain as to whether the genetic material used in standards (and the DNA primers that map to the progenitor RNA virus sequence) is from a “specific organism" but the inclusion of this term in the PHS definition of a “COVID-19 case" is important to know for the historical record.

This internal review simply required PHS to confirm that the definition recorded on their systems, that was provided in the first response, was in fact the only definition held by this public authority.

To provision of no further updated definition by PHS on what a “COVID-19 case" actually is, as a response to this internal review, therefore implies that the definition provided by PHS in their first response of what a “COVID-19 case” is defined as is in fact the only one held on the PHS systems.

This request can therefore be closed off as the public authority providing the information requested and thanks again for stating that the recorded definition of a “COVID-19 case” is:

An individual that has tested positive for COVID-19 by Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
test. A PCR test is a test to detect genetic material from a specific organism, such as a
virus.

Yours sincerely,

J Grove