close up photo of the coronavirus

The CODE COVID-19 International Update, 17 February 2022

The CODE COVID-19 International Update, 17 February 2022
Dr Priscilla Robinson

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.


Hello everyone

View the latest spreadsheet here

Whilst globally there are still 1.5 to 2 million cases and 10,000 fatalities every day, this week cases are down in all WHO regions, and fatalities in some (remember they always lag by a week or two). Also, some countries are not reporting every day, so the numbers are a bit more bouncy than they have been in past months.

I remain perplexed about why Israel is so often considered a poster child for the pandemic management and vaccination programmes. Their recent surges have taken them to an overall population attack rate of over 29%, and their vaccination rate appears to be dropping (and has done for a couple of weeks now) according to international data, although I can’t quite see why. I have no idea how you un-vaccinate people. Early on there Israel claimed over 100% coverage rates, but that might have been doses administered to the whole population and some people already had two … who knows? Vaccination rates in the Oxford vaccination tracker are based on whole (and not only eligible) populations, which is why Australia is NOT a world leader no matter how hard its government tries to so claim, and in fact our rates (just under 79%) lag behind many countries such as Cambodia and Cuba, and much of Europe (Portugal for example sits at 91%). Also Denmark (attack rate a rather startling 40%, vaccination rate 81.3%), which I have added to the spreadsheets this week as there has been a declaration that all restrictions are now lifted there.

In the Pacific, a number of countries continue to report large surges relative to the size of their populations, and there are now few which have had no cases at all to date. As their health systems are generally not robust this is not at all good news for them. Guam, Samoa etc are now staring down a growing problem they are not well equipped to manage, so please think of them.

In Australia, this week New South Wales is the first state to have broken the one million total case barrier (a missed News Corp opportunity eh?) with a population rate of 12.6% (compared with Victoria’s rate of 14.4% which is mainly the result of the 2021 surges – they are getting close to the million, but not yet …).

This week’s articles and papers:

From the BBC, a useful explanation of how control measures have helped:

Why is Canada’s Covid death rate so much lower than US?

Despite protests raging in Canada, the country is managing COVID-19 better than the US, data shows.

From The Guardian, and I forgot to add it last week:

The simple numbers every government should use to fight anti-vaccine misinformation

And now, circling back to the road safety comments a couple of weeks ago, here is something to make you all smile. Please read to the end … apologies that I have no idea where it came from, so cannot provide an attribution.

Road signs with snow-covered trees in background. Text on signs: 'Brains required. Speed limit 25. Autos and pickups snow tires ok. Carry Brains. Drivers ignoring winter conditions may be subject to natural selection.'

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.

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