The CODE Update – 04 August

close up photo of the coronavirus

Priscilla Robinson

View the latest spreadsheet here

Welcome to August CODE update #1 everybody.

First, a reminder that this main spreadsheet summarises about 88% of the world’s cases and 76% of fatalities, a generally consistent pattern over the past 18 months.

On the whole things are roughly the same – overall cases are up a bit, fatalities are down a bit. This is not the pattern everywhere though. They are actually both up in the Eastern Mediterranean region (cases by over 30%, fatalities by nearly 20%) and especially the Western Pacific region (cases by nearly 30%, fatalities by a whopping 70%). The global case fatality rate is now 2.13, so falling – despite the Delta panic – but it is true that the observed epidemiology is changing, and probably changing both between and within countries as the proportion of vaccinated people in first world countries rises. We know that older people are generally more likely to be vaccinated because they are most at risk of serious disease, so the wealthy countries cases are more likely to be in unvaccinated (i.e. younger) people, paralleled by a greater proportion of fatal cases being younger.

Never mind the Australian press reporting Indonesia as the current ‘epicentre’ (although these has been a jump in fatalities), VietNam is in real trouble – a 50% rise in cases and 500% (yes, really) rise in fatalities, although that might be a recalibration as happened in South America a little while ago.  Fiji and Laos have both had another 50% rise, and must also be struggling to manage cases as their health systems are not particularly robust. Thailand continues to have a persistent 20% increase in cases and fatalities week by week. Myanmar has also had a jump in fatalities, With a much higher than average fatality rate (3.33) which leads to the question of why? Are they over-attributing deaths to COVID, or undercounting cases?

Other countries of note include Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, and Zimbabwe, which have all had rises of around 15% in the last week. South Africa has had a more peaceful week, which it deserves as it has been a hot spot for a few weeks now.

PNG has also calmed down a lot, mercifully, despite having almost nobody vaccinated yet – they are now resorting to Chinese vaccines. Presumably they ran out of Australia’s contribution of a few thousand (for a population of nearly 9 million) a while ago.

Maybe we will start to hear more about Long Covid soon – it seems to have dropped off the radar but I think an investigation of the long-term effects of major infections – not just COVID – is long overdue.

Now to vaccines: If we all lived in Malta (90% partially and 86% fully vaccinated) we would be allowed out now. And although they live on an island, it is in the middle of the Mediterranean, but their attack rate is only at 0.77%. And of course there is Iceland (attack rate 2.4%) – where 75% of their people are now vaccinated.

Lastly, someone kindly sent me this …


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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