The Code COVID-19 International Update – 7 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.


Dear Everyone

Happy New Year. Let’s hope it is the year when this  blog is of no interest to anyone any more!

View the latest spreadsheet here

I have made a new spreadsheet, much like the old one but with the addition of what life was like a year ago. On 6 Jan 2021 we had 84 million cases (overall rate of 0.8%) and 1.8 million fatuities (case fatality rate of 2.28). A year on we are at 290 million cases (overall rate of 3.7%, more than four and a half times as many cases) and a CFR of 1.85 (so around a 30% fall). There are many reasons for this; case identification and reporting seems to have become more consistent, and perhaps treatments have improved, plus the new strain seems to have a lower fatality rate.

The rate of influenza had dropped almost everywhere, but I imagine that now that restrictions are lifted in Australia it will go up again in the autumn, and couple be a problem as it has circulated so little for the past couple of years. Could somebody please make a multiplex swab kit available to test for both, especially in aged care etc settings, And free please – charging for RAT kits is a truly punitive and silly idea – the people who need them most, those with insecure work and so on, are not going to buy them. And the people who are now hoarding them probably have no idea that they go out of date, so we will end up with another resourcing issue and identification problem in this land of ours.

Speaking of this land, Australia holds the overall record for the largest proportional increase in cases in the world, having gone from 312,096 last week to 499,958 this week,  which seems to be a 60% increase. Well, Scotty, you wanted to be a world leader, and now you are. Also, whilst we do have a high vaccination rate (of eligible people), the vaccination tracker operates on whole populations and of course some countries have populations which are younger overall than ours. Our overall vaccination rate is over 90% of eligible people, but not quite 77% fully vaccinated of everyone including children. This compares reasonably with many countries, but many are already at over 80% (I am not really including Pitcairn at 100% of their 50 residents). Interestingly, upper middle income countries seem to be ahead of upper income countries now – perhaps wealthy people are less likely to be vaccinated? And of course the situation on low income countries remains a disaster and international disgrace.

Here is a useful paper in which the authors discuss mortality during COVID in many countries. An epidemiological paper from the stalwart Oxford COVID tracking team, but for people not used to understanding these terms the authors have explained well what they are writing about. And for epi teachers it is a really good paper to use for excess mortality. It would also be a useful teaching paper.

Citation: Hannah Ritchie, Edouard Mathieu, Lucas Rodés-Guirao, Cameron Appel, Charlie Giattino, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina, Joe Hasell, Bobbie Macdonald, Diana Beltekian and Max Roser (2020) – “Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)”. Published online at Retrieved from:’ [Online Resource] Really, I am not sure why anyone needs to do modelling any more. We have the perfect illustration if, instead of adding control measures (masks, distancing, vaccines etc) you see what happens when you remove them all. This is what happens. (See ‘tale of Five outbreaks’ for details.)

This chart shows infection rates. There are no details on the X or Y axis.

So now for something a bit different:

Christmas COVID race: Irish take:

Sydney take on the same theme: (before the new regime took over)

So, truly, Happy New Year and stay safe.


(views in this blog are my own)


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.

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