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.
This week in COVID-lands around the world the data in the WHO and Oxford databanks continue to be a little difficult to interpret as some countries are still catching up from the new year breaks. Overall, both cases and fatalities have risen again, which has happened every week since mid-December. However, the fatality rate – the proportion of cases who die – continues to fall and is now a little under 1.6, good news.
Notable rises in cases this week in the island nations of Palau and the Solomon Islands (vaccination rates not listed, although Palau allegedly has a fully vaccinated population, but the Solomon Islands a fully vaccinated rate of under 7%. Both of these small Pacific nations have case numbers which have risen from a handful to several hundred in a week. Kiribati and Samoa have reported their first cases (both at about 2/3 fully vaccinated), so the distance which had protected them when the world was not travelling has vanished now.
Equally, the islands of the Seychelles and Maldives (which have respectable vaccination rates) continue to lead the world if we use population attack rates as the yardstick; and this week the Maldives have had a 20% rise in a week.
In Africa, Reunion has almost doubled its cases this week. Otherwise nothing remarkable seems to have happened, mainly case numbers seem to be settling down now. Tanzania is now reporting cases regularly after refusing to do so for most of the previous two years under its previous government.
Here in Australia, over 9% of NSW residents have had COVID, higher than the proportion of Victorians which is currently just over 8%. And despite the panic about health care provision, the Australian fatality rate remains very low by world standards, at 0.19%. This is partly because the massive rise in case numbers has not been matched by fatalities, and because the fatalities at the start were mainly in aged care residents who bore the brunt of the first wave, and was very obvious in Victoria and Tasmania. The highest Australian rate is now in locked-away West Australia at 0.63%, which is still very low.
This week’s papers:
This paper (Nature vol 601, 20 January, The pandemic’s true death toll) describes how deaths are undercounted and how estimates are made to get a better estimate of the true count.
I also have attached a useful paper, BMJ – Put to the test: use of rapid testing technologies for Covid-19, on the use of different kinds of rapid testing , and it includes a really useful chart which explains how the various tests are positive at different stages of infection.
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.