The CODE Update – 01 Sept

close up photo of the coronavirus

Priscilla Robinson


View the latest spreadsheet here


This week in our many Covid-lands: Worldwide, there have been very slightly fewer cases this week than last, and the only regions with small rises have been South East Asia and the Western Pacific, which of course had relatively few cases last year.

The Philippines and Malaysia, Japan, and Thailand, continue to have a problem, and Israel’s case numbers are surprisingly high although the immunisation rates there seem to fluctuate (originally they were very high but seem to have dropped and not moved much lately).

The global case fatality rate has fallen again, to 2.08%, although in the countries in the main spreadsheet it is slightly higher at 2.10% – but all in all this has been a consistent trend for a few weeks now. The question of possible underreporting in some countries remains, and there are still some countries where it is hard to really know what is happening, in particular in Tanzania (which sent WHO one upgraded report after the new president was installed and nothing since), unstable zones such as Syria and occupied Palestine, and of course now Afghanistan.

Here in Australia we have had about a 25% increase in our total cases this week since the start of the pandemic (accounting for most of the small Western Pacific Region increase). NSW has now overtaken Victoria in terms of both total case numbers, and population attack rates (interestingly this important point has completely passed the media by – Murdoch press asleep at the wheel …??? Or maybe not…). The Australian outbreaks are plotted on a chart of the ‘Tale of Four Outbreaks’ sheet which illustrates the quite well, and provides food for thought about why NSW is saying restrictions will be relaxed ASAP whilst Victoria is adamant that restrictions continue for a while yet.

Speaking of attack rates, the Seychelles are now well in the lead in terms of population rates and have now had a 20% case rate – 1 in 5 people – but also have a very high complete vaccination rate (70%) (they use Oxford AZ and the Chinese Sinopharm/Beijing). Next highest are Czechia and the Maldives, both of which had complete vaccination rates of about 55%.  Most European countries and North America and Canada have full vaccination rated over 50%, and more than 70% have had a single dose. Maybe their collectively higher attack rates have made the decision to be vaccinated to be easier for many people – in Australia we sit at about a 0.2% overall attack rate, compared with most countries over 1%, and several over 10%.

So countries which have had a high proportion of cases also seem to be doing well with vaccinations, despite the problems with people who are ‘vaccine hesitant’.  Maybe it is because the reality of this infection is more obvious to them although they were generally better organised and had vaccination programmes ready to roll as soon as the vaccines were available.

A continuing worry is the problem of resource-poor / low income countries which have not really managed to get vaccination programmes going yet. Whilst upper income countries have to deal with people worrying about whether they can have access to mRNA Pfizer/Moderna vaccine, or whether they would rather have AZ other countries would be happy to have any vaccines at all. As famously said by one of our bureaucrats,  the best vaccine to have is the one you can get. And of course, we are not safe until we are all safe. So, please continue to barrack for the COVAX programme!

Lastly, a book advertisement: just to let you know that OUP has updated its amazingly useful little (in size, but not content) Oxford Handbook of Public Health Practice. It was completed just before the pandemic, so COVID-19 is not in the tables of contents or index, which I think is good because there is so much more to public health than this pandemic. I have found the previous editions of this book to be very useful over the years, and this updated edition will definitely also be well used. Highly recommended for all public health practitioners, and students.

See you next week,



About Dr Priscilla Robinson and The CODE 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 makes weight-bearing gym exercise and strength training a bit redundant.

The CODE Update is a regular feature on the Intouch blog 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 a way of explaining it to Priscilla’s friends and family who happen to live all over the world, and who were being bombarded with information and misinformation in their own countries. The CODE Update provides links to practical materials and papers written for people who are not versed in the language of outbreaks and epidemic curves. It is sent out every week, and includes a short commentary to provide context to the numbers included in the spreadsheets.

Note: Whilst 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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