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 La Trobe University, and an editor for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
Hello trusty readers
Here is the international news from COVID-land this week.
Around the world, there continues to be round one million cases EVERY SINGLE DAY (i.e. just over seven million new notifications last week, and it has been like that for a while), and about 2,000 deaths each day. It’s not going away. We might have lulls from time to time, but it is annoying that any slight drop is accompanied by the ‘has it gone yet’ question.
Africa has had a very quiet week, but having said that so many countries report no, or very few, cases it is not obvious whether that is truly what is happening or whether there is just a lack of reporting.
In the Western Pacific, Micronesia has had another 1,500 cases, so is slowing down but can hardly be described as going away. Japan has had a huge surge with 1.5 million cases in a week, which is over 10% of her total to date (fatalities do not show quite such a rise, although of course fatalities always lag behind cases with this disease). Australia has risen to 14th spot on the global league table, with another quarter of a million cases. Sigh.
Up and down as usual these days. Little progress in most places now, with a few countries reporting better rates this week and a few more reporting fewer fully vaccinated people than the week before. And no, I still do not know how people can be un-immunised, although perhaps the non- and anti-vaccination people who suggest they are dangerous etc, might like to know how this is possible … intriguing really that these things happen with no international reaction.
There have not been any particularly useful paper this week (I’ll probably find half a dozen as soon as I send this off!). However, I have had some interesting discussions about some of the recent ones I have circulated which amounts to this (acknowledgements here especially to RB):
- As reinfections are becoming more common, why don’t we have a sound way of measuring this?
- Sequelae (after-effects, especially such as long-COVID) can occur after any episode. Some people remain more unwell after the first, sometimes the second dose. So the question is – are these additive (added up) or cumulative (possibly not resolving, just adding more misery to existing problems) or multiplicative effects? This is important for long term treatment.
- Might the acknowledgement of the effects of long COVID lead to a more nuanced reading of the sequelae of a range of infections, bacterial as well as viral? My understanding of major bacterial infections I am aware that nobody recovers fast, and that the effects can linger for many weeks and months. An under-researched area really.
- Masks: there is a lot of debate about how well they work, or don’t work, some quite old now. Remember that all organisms have different transmission characteristics; they probably work better for some bugs than others, and just maybe they are not as protective for COVID as hoped (especially worn under the nose or largely kept on a pocket). But common sense tells us that they at least stop the spread of big droplets; so for people who are coughing and sneezing, if they keep wearing them properly, they are likely to protect the surrounding people from whatever they have. The ‘precautionary principle’ tells us that if an intervention does no harm, even if it cannot be proven to do much good, in the absence of the best quality evidence we should use it anyway.
- WE STILL DON’T HAVE MUCH REALLY GOOD EPIDEMIOLOGY BEYOND THE PREDICTABLE AGE/CO-EXISTING DISEASE/CO-MORBIDITIES. IS ANYBODY LISTENING OUT THERE? What are the risk and protective factors? So the people of Pitcairn, who have been 100% vaccinated for ever, and have only had four cases of COVID (all survived). There are other islands with protected but poorly vaccinated populations. There are some interesting and useful ecological natural experiments/observations to be made, given the right datasets, to which I do not have access, sadly.
See you next week. Keep safe.
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.