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.
Things seem to be picking up pace again, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean. There are now about a million cases a day being notified to WHO, and the gap between Johns Hopkins and WHO case estimates is now approaching three million. There are in the region of about 1,500 deaths every day (a fair proportion of these being from Australia – which generally has about 50 over the whole country, mainly now generally ignored).
Australia, for people interested, is now number 17 on the league table of cases we do not want to be top of. Our case fatality rate might remain low, but our attack rate is now at almost 25% – so one in four Australians has now had COVID. That is very much higher than many other countries, and definitely not something to be proud of. It is similar to Spain and Italy, although it took them all of two years to get here, whereas we have done it in about six months. Even worse, Australia reports about 250 fatalities a week at the moment, and that is about 3% the world’s total, whereas we only have 0.33% of the world’s population, so about ten times more than we should have. I know there are ups and downs with waves of infection etc, but still … if we are concerned about India possibly underreporting more than half of its deaths, we can’t pretend that this isn’t also a significant problem. Acknowledging that we actually do have a problem would be a start, but the collective political heads seems to be firmly in the sand with repeated messages about being protected because we are amongst the world leaders in vaccine coverage. So another point – whilst our rates are respectable we are far from world leaders. Elephant/s in the room, or emperors with no clothes??
Vaccinations seem to have slowed right down now, with only fractions of percent increases in most places most weeks. And many countries continue to have woeful rates, sometimes because of conflict, sometimes because of lack of delivery resources, and sometimes because the vaccines are not accessible in practical terms. Whilst I was happy to have my ‘winter booster’ this week, I am also acutely aware of my developed-country privilege in not having much trouble connecting to it, although not living in a city it did take some organisation. Only a developed-country problem.
WHO reports that fatalities are very likely much higher than reported, and maybe 15,000,000 (more than twice as many as actually reported) – no surprises there – for many reasons including how cases of death are counted, and how deaths are themselves reported. The USA has reported approaching one million deaths compared with India’s just over 540,000, and this paper illustrates some of the problems with this counting.
And good old Nature has a good paper showing how new COVID variants emerge and cause surges roughly every six months.
Next week I will be on the road. I will write a CODE report but it will be brief as I will have to find the numbers a day earlier than usual so not comparing complete weeks. I hope you all don’t mind!
This week I found a poem for you. It’s not about COVID, but it is beautiful. Enjoy.
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.