The Code COVID19 International Update – 27 October 2021

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.

View the latest spreadsheet here

Well, here you are, and it is getting harder to interpret for several reasons:

  1. There are some problems uploading data at WHO. This week Europe is catching up with missing notifications last week, so it appears that infections are rising there, however this is quite spurious. And again this week worldwide cases (now at 3% of the world’s population) and fatalities (now down to 2.03 globally, but very different between countries) are again lower than for the week before, a pattern which has lasted for a few weeks, since about August.
  2. Vaccinations: the disastrous low rates in low income countries is not picking up at any speed; at this rate these countries will not be immunised for about 50 years or more, far too slow. Especially as a number of these countries have had no covid, so therefore there is absolutely no disease-driven immunity in their communities, and as soon as borders open infections will arrive on their shores, by which time most of the world will have forgotten about it. Bring on COVAX and TRIPS.
  3. Several countries now have a booster programme, and I have added these to the Vaccination Tracker sheet.
  4. On the other hand, some countries in the northern hemisphere are experiencing high case numbers despite high vaccination rates. It seems that a large proportion of cases are unvaccinated and younger. It is important to remember that ‘herd immunity’ refers to the whole population, not just the eliginble population. Here in Australia, a rate of 70% is actually more like 55%, as about 15% of the population is under 12 and not yet eligible for any of the vaccines. So all of those other strategies – masks, distancing, coughing into your elbow and away from other people, and so on, remain really important, regardless of ‘freedom’ from restrictions.

Remember, we are not all safe until we are all safe.

In Australia, the media have missed the Victorian milestone of an overall population attack rate of over 1%, and NSW is nearly there too. Whilst that is nowhere near the percentages in much of the world – there are many countries which have broken the 10% barrier, and one is over 20% – for a country which has had such low rates it is not a good milestone. In fact much of SE Asia and the Pacific has had a similar problem, which is partly why I am fearful for all of those countries which have had no cases to date.

Lastly, and many thanks to CH for bringing this paper to my attention, published alongside the release of the relevant film:

Graumans W, Stone WJR, Bousema T. No time to die: An in-depth analysis of James Bond’s exposure to infectious agents. 2021. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 44(102175)



See you 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. 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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