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, a London-based Adjunct Associate Professor of Public Health at La Trobe University, and an editor for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
Cases continue to steadily accumulate, and the fatality rate has dropped again, now down to 1.06.
Interesting that there is now a real push, globally, to ‘go back to normal’. Almost all countries have now lifted travel restrictions, nobody wants to know about your RAT result when you get on a plane, and masks are now very much a suggestion rather than a rule. How odd; there are still about half a million cases and a few thousand deaths every day, and in some places things are heating up again (the WHO African region for example, where a recent few deaths a week are now a few dozen). In Africa, St Helena (around 2,000 km off the west coast of Africa) has suddenly taken off, with apparently about a quarter of its population of only 6,000 being notified in the last week. India has had a third of a million cases this week, quite a surge for that country.
The push to normal seems to be driving the ignoring of preventive measures. Here in London there are messages saying that we must wear masks on public transport, completely ignored by at least 75% of people travelling at the same time as me. Although as it is turning cool now, it is noticeable that face masks do help to keep the heat in!
Australian data are now so unclear that it is impossible to understand what is really happening. The Australian States sheet is therefore about to become redundant unless I can find a better way of interpreting the commonwealth-provided data. There are still a couple of thousand new notifications every day, and perhaps one or two dozen deaths associated with COVID infection (there is of course, and rightly, a blurry discussion about ‘underlying illness’ etc, but not helpful in the context of this blog). Yes, underlying chronic disease contributes to fatal outcomes of many diseases, but it is not really helpful to pretend it is no longer a problem, because in public health terms we need to be protecting our most vulnerable people, and they are of course people with underlying conditions. Victoria is at least providing some better information (see the Tale of Six Outbreaks sheet), which shows that a steady number of cases continues to happen. Just saying.
As it is the end of winter in the southern hemisphere, and just starting in the global north, it is way over high time to consider all winter respiratory infections as a bundle, with access to rapid tests for a range of bugs, and access to appropriate early treatments as appropriate. Again, just saying.
Sadly vaccination rates in low income countries have been reduced (recalculated maybe?), and few countries are continuing to make progress. African countries have basically stalled for a few weeks now. In several high income countries rates only creep up at about 0.01% of the population each week, and very few manage to vaccinate more than 1%. At that rate it will be several years before some countries are well covered, and in a few countries most people will never be vaccinated in their lifetime. Booster doses seem to be going rather better, notably in countries with high completion rates of primary courses.
It is hard to avoid catching COVID if you are the parent or grandparent of +ve young children, but a bit easier if your house-sharers are teenagers or young adults (‘adultescents’ in our household). Hassan Vally and Cathie Bennett from Deakin University explain the risk if someone in your household has it.
If someone who lives in a six-person household gets COVID, you’d expect, on average, two others to get it too.
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.
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.