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.
Dear readers, friends and family,
It has been a very bad week for the Western Pacific Region which until recently has had a quiet pandemic – but no longer, with cases and fatalities up overall. New Zealand has had twice as many as its total cases (i.e. case numbers have tripled), Brunei Darussalam is up about 60%, China has almost doubled its total case count, and Korea has had one million of its just over three million cases this week. The Cook Islands have gone from four to 25 cases which is over a 600% increase, which must be testing a fragile health system as Australia had trouble coping with that many two years ago. In contrast, everywhere else is much quieter. The African region and South East Asia have both been very, very quiet with a total of a third of a million cases between all African countries.
Australia continues to have around 20,000 cases a day, give or take a few thousand, and that will probably get worse now that restrictions have virtually all been lifted just about everywhere now (not yet in WA). I am quite amazed at how often, going into a shop etc, I am cheerfully told that I don’t need to wear a mask now, although hand sanitiser remains on full display (which is probably a good idea for many reasons, but not many of them are COVID-related!). Both NSW and Victoria have now had over one million cases, although the NT now has the highest attack rate for its population size. And I have not yet adjusted the ‘Tale of Five Outbreaks’ sheet. I know I really should turn the chart into a rolling five- or maybe seven-day average but I just love the scribble the numbers make on the chart.
To other serious matters. For the record, Russia is reporting around 100,000 cases a week, and not quite half of their population is fully vaccinated. The Ukraine is reporting just over 80,000 cases and has a vaccination rate of one third fully vaccinated. The current overall COVID rate per head of population is roughly the same for both (about 11%); perhaps this infection might have a role to play in the current conflict – troops on the move are going to be at high risk because of the conditions in which they live and work – home team advantage maybe???
Vaccines remain a very sore point. It is truly sad that worldwide more people have had boosters than people in resource-poor countries have had any vaccines at all. It is also interesting that upper middle income countries seem to be reaching a higher proportion of their people than high income countries; perhaps they are still held back by people who believe vaccines somehow limit (rather than provide) freedoms.
|Region||% Any vaccine||% Partially vaccinated||% Fully vaccinated||% Booster|
|Low Income Countries||12.59||5.74||6.85||0.30|
|Lower Middle Income Countries||56.54||10.28||46.26||4.10|
|Upper Middle Income Countries||80.44||4.89||75.55||30.50|
This week’s articles and papers
From The Lancet, a paper about COVID vaccines successfully protect from current new strains, provided people have had boosters. It is full of words like ‘neutralising antibodies’ and ‘synthetic monoclonal antibody treatments’ for people in need of dinner party conversation starters.
On the anniversary of the roll-out of the first COVAX vaccines, the BBC has put together a general-public-oriented report about long-term effects of the vaccines, addressing various concerns people have had: Vaccines: What we know about long-term safety now
See you next week, keep safe.
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.