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.
In summary, approaching 6% of the world has now had COVID, and the fatality rate continues to fall (now at 1.34%). Fatalities are in general higher in South America and Eastern Europe, in countries with fewer resources; in the Yemen the rate is approaching one in five cases, probably indicating underreporting, and in Afghanistan it is over 4%, which is probably to do with health care access. In Peru it is around 6%, but a huge number was added to their toll a few months into the pandemic and the rate there has been falling ever since. Although we can make some statements, we cannot really compare these rates, but only note them and consider the circumstances under which they are collected.
The Snapshot table suggests a massive problem on the African continent, but it is not really like that, as new African continent cases have been falling for a while as only reported about 25,000 total cases this week, with some catch-up cases from the week before – many individual countries report that many every day. The big increases this week have happened in (African) Mauritius (close to tripled this week), and then South East Asia – South Korea (about one third more) and Viet Nam (about one quarter of their cases this week), and the Pacific – New Zealand (doubled again this week), Brunei Darussalam (another about 30%), Tonga has tripled its cases, American Samoa about quadrupled, the Cook Islands from 25 to 141 in a week, and Vanuatu has more than doubled. Not many of these places have health systems which will cope well. I can’t help thinking how terribly difficult it must be to run a health care system in a conflict zone – wars are definitely not good for public health.
This week’s papers and articles
This open access paper is a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials of vaccine efficacy and observational trials of vaccine effectiveness, mostly but not all peer-reviewed. The authors identified the best part f 14,000 studies (who would have thought there were so many already??) which were whittled down to 18 of the best quality (which also indicated how much academic noise there is in this field). Basically the results support boosters by 6 months after the completion of the first course.
This Guardian article discusses how a cleaner atmosphere helped trigged record rains in parts of China.
From the BBC, some potted information about long-term safety of COVID vaccines (spoiler – most effects happen within a few hours of being vaccinated).
And for people in need of some sensible analysis of excess deaths during the pandemic, this article is clear and unhysterical.
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.