CODE Update – 19 May

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Priscilla Robinson

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For people new to this spreadsheet, the 55 countries on the main Global Epidemiology sheet have been variously added to by request over the past year, and have consistently included the 20 countries with the highest number of cases (and therefore have generated press panic). Overall these 55 countries include about 70% of the world’s population, but roughly 87% of cases and 83% of COVID fatalities to date, most likely because in general the SEARO and AWPRO countries have until now been relatively spared for reasons of physical and political geography.

Notable rises in cases have occurred this week in the Seychelles, Fiji, Thailand, the Maldives, Timor Leste, and Sri Lanka – and because fatalities are rising quite sharply it leads to a question about lack of testing for asymptomatic carriers.

This week in COVID-land there have been some other interesting developments. The scientific news this week includes a summary about a new test for COVID19, measuring memory t-cells – a part of the immune system that stores organism-specific information – which will confirm prior infection 15 days after first encountering COVID19. Note – it is not a test for current infection – so will not use at airports etc – but will help with confirmation of various other things such as vaccine longevity, prior infection, etc.

And then of course there is the revision – at last – about aerosol transmission. This is a very readable and journalistic explanation about how this all came about.

The Vaccination Tracker sheet has been updated – several countries have added new vaccines to their banks, especially EU countries adding J&J. A few S hemisphere and transitional countries have added the Chinese and Russian ones, plus a couple of vaccines which I have not heard of before (Abdala, which is Cuba’s own vaccine, and CanSino, another Chinese vaccine which you can read about here).

The holiday destinations of Vanuatu and Guam do not yet report to have vaccines, which is not OK anymore. The good message is however, that 9% of the world’s population has had at least one vaccine dose, and 4.6% are fully vaccinated. But it is very patchy, and whilst the northern hemisphere is generally going well, here in the south the story is much less uplifting. Australia now seems to have enough vaccine on order to immunise the entire population three times over, so lets all hope they do get around to giving 2/3 of it away to places that really need it. And also let’s support the initiative from the political economy groups to waive vaccine patents to that countries can manufacture it for themselves – after all, the research was publicly funded albeit from countries which could afford it, so it should be publicly available – and we are not all safe until all of us are protected.

Bye for now, until next week.

About Dr Priscilla Robinson and The CODE Update

Dr Robinson is a public health epidemiologist with particular interests in international health and communicable diseases, and public health competencies. She has worked in health departments in England and Australia, has managed public health teaching programmes, and taught and researched many aspects of public health epidemiology and policy in many countries. She is an adjunct Associate Professor at LaTrobe University, and to stop herself being bored is an editor of PHAA’s journal ANZJPH, and holds board positions (almost all unpaid) on various NGOs, journals, and at her local hospital. Otherwise, 10 acres of untamed bushland on a hill in South Gippsland makes weight-bearing gym exercise and strength training a bit redundant.

The CODE Update is a new regular feature on the Intouch blog to keep readers informed of COVID-19 developments around the world.

The CODE update originally began at the start of the SARS CoV-2 pandemic as a way of explaining it to Priscilla’s friends and family who happen to live all over the world, and who were being bombarded with information and misinformation in their own countries. The CODE Update provides links to practical materials and papers written for people who are not versed in the language of outbreaks and epidemic curves. It is sent out every week, and includes a short commentary to provide context to the numbers included in the spreadsheets.

Note: Whilst every attempt is made to transcribe all data faithfully, every now and again mistakes are made and not noticed until the next update. Also, on occasion numbers are revised after posting at the source databases.

We hope you will find these updates to be a helpful tool, and the links to current information useful.

 

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