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.
The first item of note is that this week I am not at all sure the data are really reliable this week. Data for the Americas are a bit wonky, because there seems to be a current problem with reports getting from the countries of origin in to the WHO database – there have been no updated for several days now. This results in an apparently pleasing drop in cases and fatalities, but that definitely will be an underrepresentation; next week it will no doubt result in a higher than expected number of cases – you are forewarned.
Secondly, Europe seems to be having an overall surge (nearly 10% more cases) presumably due to relaxed travel and other restrictions (which clearly work, can we remind ourselves). A handful of European countries are reporting no cases or fatalities, but that might or might not be a non-reporting issue. Other European countries are showing only a handful (e.g. Belgium), or a several hundred or a few thousand, Who knows??? Even staff in some Australian States have said they will not be reporting case numbers every day any more, so we are perhaps getting to a point where the patterns of infection over time are going to be less clear. On a more positive note, Tanzania is now reporting weekly, so a thumbs up to them. Turkmenistan isn’t though. North Korea still claims to have had no cases.
Several countries, especially in Africa have reported no fatalities in the last week, and most African, Pacific, and Asian countries are generally reporting no more than a handful of cases each day. Except for Australia at present of course. So it is perhaps time to reflect on the fact that New Zealand, which took on board the Chinese very stringent control measures right from the start, has had an overall attack rate less than one fifth of Australia’s (90/100,000 compared with 508/100,000), with a similar original problem (visiting cruise ships etc) and similar possibilities for prevention and control (especially being island with few entry points). The population is a bit less than that of Victoria (5.8 million compared with 6.7), but Victoria’s attack rate has been 840/100,000 – coming up to 1% – despite all of its now six lockdowns: and that is almost ten times as high as NZ. For the record and for people from NSW, it is now 856/100,000 there, so maybe the tone of the national discussion about how Victoria could not organise a milkshake in a dairy can change now.
Australia has reported a 25% increase this week, and has jumped up the league table … whilst this is a good thing to rise in league tables if we are considering immunisation rates, it is definitely a bad thing if we are thinking about cases. Also the Australian case fatality rate has risen a little this week (from 1.04% to 1.12%) which is mercifully lower than the global rate, and presumably is a reflection of the state of health of most cases. Poster-child Singapore has had a similar rise in cases, although their fatality rate remains very small (0.13%). China’s case rate is staying small, but the fatality rate is high (now reported at 4.55%) – I don’t know why – maybe a case underreporting of asymptomatic cases, maybe somehow people getting to hospital late – it’s difficult to know without more information.
There are two really good food-for-thought articles from the O’Neill institute this week:
The vaccine news continues to be very depressing for people who do not living in a wealthy country. There has been no increase in fully vaccinated people in Low Income countries this week. Please advocate for the COVAX programme, and for governments – all of them – to push for TRIPS-agreement IP waivers for these vaccines so that at they can – legally – be made locally. After all, they were mainly developed using massive amounts of public money, so should be available for all people. Gold star to Oxford for not exercising Astra Zenica copyright (please note that Australia and others).
|CONTINENT||% of population who have had at least one dose.||% of population who are partially vaccinated||% fully vaccinated|
|Low Income Countries||2.50||1.20||1.30|
|Lower Middle Income Countries||34.00||17.90||16.10|
|Upper Middle Income Countries||66.60||9.80||56.80|
We are not safe until we are all safe. And are certainly a long way from all being safe yet.
Until next week then,
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.