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 La Trobe University, and an editor for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
This week it is all warming up again, and I am not just talking about the weather in the northern hemisphere. Over 7% of people worldwide have now been officially notified (so it will in reality be higher than that because notification systems are neither the same everywhere and none of them are 100% reliable). Several countries in Europe now report an overall rate of over 50% of their population notified, including Holland, Austria, Portugal, Denmark, Iceland … The case fatality rate continues to steadily fall, and is now at 1.16. (Interestingly, whilst the countries on the main spreadsheet overall had a lower rate than the world figure, these are creeping closer together now.) Countries with very high fatality rates such as Peru (which a year ago or so sat at 10% following a major internal reclassification) are also falling. It is countries such as Afghanistan and especially the Yemen which have high rates but are also having to deal with major food shortages and conflict which are the major concerns in this context.
So the warming-up surge shows a 25% increase in new cases this week, and 15% increase in fatalities. These increases are more or less everywhere, although this week it is the USA which is having the most obvious surge (over 700,000 cases); however, there are many places with small actual numbers but big proportional increases, particularly in the Pacific. Nauru is definitely having a battle.
Here in Australia we have a minor lull – but not exactly a respite with still several thousand cases every day and a few dozen fatalities. I note that the comparison with road fatalities is being used quite widely, but not being commented on much outside public health circles. I also note an increase in many public health people beginning to individually promote the use of face masks as a protection for ‘Flu and other viruses as well as COVID, something we can all model/promote/advocate for. The Australian fatality rate is very low (0.12%) and has also fallen over the months. Maybe this is because the newer Omicron strains are less likely to be fatal, or the vaccines are working, or better diagnosis and early treatment for our most vulnerable, or all three of these things and more. However, Victoria’s previous much-higher-than-everywhere-else rate much sneered at by other States has fallen to almost the national average, and NSW is also now above the national average. So there.
Almost literally nothing to see here. Sigh.
And the booster rate in high income countries outstrips the primary course in resource-poor settings by more than 300%. Which is shocking.
Papers – quite a bundle of interesting and thoughtful papers this week after a rather scanty month or so:
- Danny Altmann (from Imperial College in London): Where’s the herd immunity? Our research shows why Covid is still wreaking havoc
- Neil Jay Sehgal et al. The Association Between COVID-19 Mortality And The County-Level Partisan Divide In The United States. HEALTH AFFAIRS. VOL. 41(6). I cannot get at the whole paper at the moment, but here is the abstract.
- Linda Geddes’s paper mentions this USA National Institutes of Health study as part of her evidence: RECOVER: Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery. It is a useful resource for people with long COVID and people looking after them.
- Colin Carlson et al have produced a somewhat scary analysis – looking glass into the future: Climate change increases cross-species viral transmission risk.
- And First Dog nails it again
I may not see you next week as I will be away and will not necessarily have internet access. If not normal transmission will be resumed the following week.
Bye for now
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.