‘Follow-up investigation into excess mortality difficult due to limited data access’

CBS and RIVM published their study into excess mortality during the corona pandemic in June. At the request of the House of Representatives, a group of independent scientists is conducting a follow-up study into this excess mortality. But some of the required data is not accessible to them for privacy reasons, say the scientists.

โ€œThe independent academic research requested by the House cannot be carried out in this way,โ€ says Robert Verheij, professor by special appointment of ‘transparency in care’, and chairman of the sounding board group of CBS and RIVM research. The scientists will draw political attention to this in September, says Verheij to Nieuwsuur.

Excessive mortality

At the end of 2021, around 3,400 people died more than expected, for reasons other than corona. It remains unclear why this is exactly the case, even after the investigation by CBS and RIVM. The CBS and RIVM do state in their report that there are no indications that vaccinations have led to an increased risk of death.

Domestic

and foreign research also shows that vaccinated people not only die much less often from corona. They also die less often from other disorders, although it is still unclear why.

Why this research?

The reason for the investigation into excess mortality is a motion by Pieter Omtzigt adopted by the House of Representatives in December 2021, calling for ‘academic research’ into the undeclared excess mortality. Scientists from the CBS/RIVM study sounding board group now say that they do not have access to the data needed for this – even though that data is available.

Louise Gunning, chairman of the committee that will supervise the follow-up study, acknowledges that the lack of access to data makes it โ€œdifficultโ€ for independent researchers. โ€œThat is why the first part of the research program also focuses mainly on research where other data sources can be used,โ€ she says. โ€œWe hope that the accessibility of the RIVM and GGD data can be arranged in the meantime.โ€

For example, the researchers would like access to anonymized test and vaccination data. With test data from the GGD, it can then be investigated whether people who, according to a medical examiner, have also tested positive for corona, and may have unfairly not been counted as corona deaths. Linking vaccination status to anonymized data from general practitioners can also rule out that fatal vaccination side effects have been overlooked.

โ€œPolitical Inconsistencyโ€

However, vaccinees have only given RIVM permission to use their vaccination data. As a result, researchers from universities or pharmaceutical companies do not have access to it. โ€œAs a result, only RIVM is able to conduct research into effectiveness,โ€ says Verheij.

The vice-chairman of the sounding board group, Koos Van der Velden, calls it ‘political inconsistency’ that the House of Representatives does want new research, but this is difficult due to lack of data.

The RIVM states that the European privacy law stands in the way of GDPR. But in several Nordic countries, more data can be linked for research. In Finland, for example, โ€œthe public interest is more paramount,โ€ says Verheij. โ€œThe GDPR leaves room for EU member states to find their way around this themselves. This space is interpreted differently in the Netherlands and therefore insufficiently used. This ensures that important research questions remain unanswered, for which the data is in principle present.โ€