The Code COVID19 International Update is a weekly snapshot of the COVID-19 pandemic, assessing efforts by nations around the world to test, track and fight the virus. It’s compiled by Dr Priscilla Robinson, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Public Health at LaTrobe University, and an editor for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
This week in COVID-land, now that over 5% of the world’s population has now had COVID, it is good that the case fatality rate continues to fall, and is now 1.45%. Some regions are up and some are down – nothing unusual really. Australia has gone from having a rate much lower than the international average to about 9% of our population having now tested positive. However, many countries have much higher rates, led by Fiji (over half of Fijians have now been infected), over one third of people from the Seychelles, over a quarter of Maldives Islanders and Mongolians, and residents of Reunion in Africa.
The region of note for us is the Western Pacific, and presumably now that the various support agencies are providing aid to Tonga and restocking in the other Pacific Islands have taken COVID with them. In New Caledonia (cases have doubled) and the Solomon Islands (trebled) Kiribati (times five, from nearly 400 to over 1700 IN A WEEK) and Palau (nearly doubled) are the current problem spots in the Western Pacific, and Tonga now has had cases when there had been zero before.
The vaccine situation has not improved much – with 53% of the world now being fully vaccinated and almost 13% having had a booster. Because COVAX is very under-resourced for many reasons, low income countries have still barely started vaccination programmes and have to deal with considerable misinformation and mistrust as well as actual cases. In low income countries, under 10% have had any vaccine at all, and only about half have had two. Coverage is terribly patchy, so that some countries without access to vaccines, especially in Africa and some remote island nations, will not get coverage to acceptable levels for many years.
Several countries should be very ashamed for not agreeing to IP waivers for vaccines (especially Astra Zeneca) so that Indian manufacturers could help produce some of the many millions needed to vaccinate the whole world. The story behind these manoeuvrings is quite murky now, and much of it of the ‘he-said-she-said’ variety, but does no wealthy country proud to have not managed to get this initiative on the road. Investigating wealthy country financial contributions to COVAX have also been underwhelming – disentangling the contribution of countries to the international initiative as against the funding of their own national programmes has taken me a lot of time with no concrete story.
Now, I seem to have had a lot of contact with people taking swabs lately, so this cartoon rang some bells for me!
See you next week
About Dr Priscilla Robinson and The CODE COVID-19 International 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, VIC, makes weight-bearing gym exercise and strength training a bit redundant.
The CODE Update is a regular Intouch feature 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 Priscilla’s way of explaining to her friends and family around the world what was happening, and counter their experiences of information overload and misinformation. The update provides links to practical materials and papers written for people who are not versed in the language of outbreaks and epidemic curves. Published weekly, it includes a short commentary to provide context to the numbers included in the spreadsheets.
Note: While 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.