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 one and all
This whole pandemic is showing no real sign of slowing down yet, and as 3.3% of the world’s population has now been diagnosed (with no real feel for how many have not been contact-traced and tested outside resource-rich countries, and even then …) The fatality rate has dropped to 2% globally though, so presumably vaccines are beginning to make a real dent in the numbers of severely unwell cases. Almost all wealthy countries have rates lower than the global average, and some of those that remain high to date, such as Italy, had major outbreaks in elderly and vulnerable populations early on (this includes Victoria in Australia), so whilst their rates are dropping they will not be below the global average for a while yet.
Hot spots this week:
Locally to Australia: apart from the continuation of the local surges in Victoria, NSW and the ACT, New Zealand has had a 25% increase in the past week, and (South) Korea about a 10% rise. The Seychelles has also had a big-ish blip, and close to a 25% attack rate despite a high vaccination rate (they are using AstraZeneca and Sinopharm) but not many fatalities (see comment above). Europe in general is having a real surge in most countries, although Holland and Germany seem to be leading the way both in cases and in demonstrations associated with control measures. We have had demonstrations too, but these are a bit confusing as they are about seeking freedoms we already have, so not I’m not very sure what the point of these have been.
Cool spots this week:
Most of Africa is lower with a few not, and Eastern Europe, SE Asia and the Western Pacific are slowing down again; presumably they will all have another wave in a couple of months.
For local people, I have added the NT into the Tale of Four Outbreaks (now therefore five, although I did contemplate leaving it at four).
I don’t have anything to add to the somewhat despairing observations about the lack of equity in distribution, and noting that some countries which have to date been COVID-free also have low vaccination rates, and on top of that are holiday destinations. They do not need us to take our bugs on holiday. And when Australian politicians get up and say we are the highest vaccinated country IN THE WORLD, they are completely uninformed and wrong. After being told it was not a race, of course it became one. Australia ranks 25 on the fully vaccinated list I follow (not just OECD countries), but notably several middle-income countries are higher. At almost 77% bit better in the proportion of people who have had at least one dose, but other places such as Pitcairn (100%, but that is an anomaly really!), UAE (98.1%), Singapore (93%), Cuba (almost 90%), Cayman Islands (nearly 87%), China (84%), Cambodia (83%), Iceland and the Seychelles (both nearly 83%), South Korea and Spain (either side of 82%) are doing better with the same kinds of logistical problems of disbursed populations and cold chain etc issues.
Boosters are coming along in several countries. Israel is reporting nearly 44%, but their fully vaccinated rate (which a while ago was reported to be in the 90% range) has fallen to only 62%, and as people cannot be un-vaccinated I can’t comment further (they are only using Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, you know the ones with the microchip in them). Actually, I almost wish it was true. Then we wouldn’t have to grapple with the QR code check-ins etc, we could all just wave our arms at the readers – plus out internet might work better). Chile (41%), UAE and Iceland (either side of 29) and the UK (22%) are apparently well into booster roll-out programmes. Worldwide, booster shots have been given to 2.64% of the population.
In low income countries only just over 5% have had even one – in the Yemen it is 1.76%, PNG 2.8%, Syria 4.5%. What a travesty. And no, it is not all about witch doctors and traditional beliefs, although it is easy (and rather lazy) to blame such things for these low rates. It is really more about getting vaccines to remote places so that they can be used.
There is a circulating rumour that Saint Anthony Fauci prefers Moderna vaccine over the others, because that is the one he happened to have. Just saying, he has said many times that the best vaccine to get is the one that is available to you, and that he believes they all perform equally well. And no, he does not have shares in any of them. You can Google all of this information pretty easily!
Here is an interesting piece of science journalism, which gathers ideas from several places, and regarding influenza as the ‘longest pandemic’, considers whether a vaccine could be designed which ends all strains – and therefore all flu – for ever.
Goldberg Y et al. Waning immunity after the BNT162b2 Vaccine in Israel. NEJM, 27 October 2021 on-line; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2114228
See above, it explains some things in more detail for people who are interested, and importantly supports the need for boosters)
First Dog on the Moon has provided some wry humour from time to time (some of it COVID-related), but I am struck that so little has caused cartoon comment for a bit.
That’s it for now, see you all 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.