The CODE COVID-19 International Update – 20 January 2022

close up photo of the coronavirus
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.


Hi all

The last seven days have seen a global case count of almost 20 million, and approaching 50,000 fatalities.

View the latest spreadsheet here

The biggest increases proportionally speaking, has been noted in Palau (a dozen or so to 149 this week, around a 1,200% increase). Which does not seem much, especially in comparison with the USA which is currently tracking at nearly a million cases every day, but will be stretching the Palau health system to breaking point, but about which we have heard nothing. For the record, Australia has contributed 450,000 cases. Although there have been increases this week over last week, the worldwide surge looks like it is now settling. Fatalities, which always follow cases several days behind, for obvious reasons, are rising in number but dropping as a proportion of cases, and now under 1.7%. At the opposite end of the numbers spectrum, Tonga has so far had one single case, but who knows what will happen when the various volcano/tsunami relief efforts kick in – let’s just hope we don’t send in COVID with aid and disaster relief.

% of population who have had at least one dose. % partly vaccinated % fully vaccinated Booster doses /100 people
Africa 15.33 5.33 10 <0.1
Asia 69.26 11.89 57.37 9.8
Europe 66.27 3.86 62.41 29.4
European Union 73.77 3.47 70.3 37.5
North America 68.94 10.17 58.77 16.9
Oceania 62.12 3.21 58.91 13.6
South America 76.84 11.31 65.53 16.4
Low Income Countries 9.54 4.64 4.9 None
Lower Middle Income Countries 52.16 15.92 36.24 1.1
Upper Middle Income Countries 78.75 5.32 73.43 18.1
High income 77.25 6.14 71.11 30.1
WORLD 56.61 6.46 50.15 10.4

As some countries are now talking about fourth doses, let’s revisit vaccines. Personally I find it quite difficult (ridiculous even) that some countries are thinking about fourth doses when many countries have yet to reach even 25% vaccinated with two doses;. And as for the various trouble spots such as the Yemen, Afghanistan etc., where vaccination programmes have hardly begun and supply issues are exacerbated by problems beyond the control of their peoples, and where vaccination days seem to be only a dream, all we can do right now is pray for them.

This week’s papers: This paper from the New Yorker says everything you need to know about why numbers can be so hard to interpret, in understandable English.

Do the Omicron numbers think what they think we mean?

And from ABC News, another useful piece of reporting: COVID rapid antigen tests can return false negatives, but experts say they’re accurate when it counts the most

Lastly, as Guardian cartoonist Edit Pritchett puts it (From Omicron to self-assembly furniture: a week in Venn diagrams)

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.

Leave a Reply