Dr Priscilla Robinson
The Code 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.
This week, the worldwide downward trend in both cases and fatalities compared with the week before continues, with the exception of the Western Pacific with a small increase in fatalities. Remember that these are the legacy of previous infection – with one or two notable exceptions, infectious diseases usually don’t kill people immediately. Standing back and taking a breather, then, we can see that 13 countries have now had COVID19 in more than 10% of their population. The Seychelles (almost 21%), Czechia (nearly 16%), and the Maldives (>15%) lead the way, then Israel (13%), and the USA (12%). The USA was almost at 10% at the end of 2020, so their control measures – where they are able to be implemented – do seem to have effectively slowed it.
The case fatality rate continues to fall (now 2.06%). There are some major anomalies in these data though. The Yemen, clearly not a good place to have a major infection, has a fatality rate of nearly 19%, with a case rate of almost nothing. The next highest fatality rate in in Peru (> 9%) and Syria (>7%), but almost other countries (with the exception of China (4.6%) and Hungary (3.7%) have rates even close to 3%.
In Africa, Uganda, Madagascar, and Cameroon have recorded no cases (or deaths) this week, along with Tanzania which has reported only once in the last year. That’s also the case for North Korea, various Pacific Island nation states; and in SEARO, Bhutan. But Mayotte (in the Indian Ocean, between Madagascar and the African mainlands) has had a 20% blip in cases and fatalities to even things out a bit. In the Pacific, Australia continues to be the stand-out, with another rise (~15% this week). The country with the biggest problem this week is New Caledonia, which went from under 300 cases to more than 1,200 cases.
The socioeconomic gradient for vaccine access continues to grow, unfortunately. This is the current table showing overall trends from the vaccination tracker. See the spreadsheet for details. In Australia, various news feeds have been lauding the Fiji vaccine roll-out programme and calling it the world leader in getting their populations immunised. Well – not on my list – so I am completely bemused about what they base that on (fully vaccinated = ~33%). Here are the countries with very low rates (no surprises there – I am quite amazed that they have managed to vaccinate anyone at all really) and all countries with fully-vaccinated rates over 70%. Note – I think all of the poster children (such as Israel) are not on it!
|Geography||At least one vaccination %||Fully vaccinated %||At least one vaccination %||Fully vaccinated %|
|Oceania||41.80||24.94||Syrian Arab Republic||1.26||1.1|
|Income Group||Cayman Islands||79.5||75.23|
|Low Income Countries||1.90||0.70||Singapore||78.7||75.9|
|Lower Middle Income Countries||26.70||11.10||Iceland||81.7||77.48|
|Upper Middle Income Countries||61.70||50.10||United Arab Emirates||89.4||78.3|
This week I am including links to two useful articles, The Future of Global Health Law written by international public health lawyer Larry Gostin and What Went Wrong with COVAX, the Global Vaccine Hub by Jamie Ducharme for Time; both well worth the read.
There are two growing questions on the horizon. The first is about vaccine boosters – and the consensus seems to be that we will need one, maybe of a different type than the first one (and maybe not!). AstraZeneca possibly provides longer-term protection, so possibly the younger people who have had one of the mRNA vaccines will be prioritised – but all this is in the future.
The other concern is that people have remembered about Long Covid, and some have noticed that post-viral fatigue and other symptoms have been with us for a while.
This week I found something to make you smile – it’s been a while. 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, 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.