Low COVID-19 vaccination rates, global digest

The region with the highest weekly case incidence was again Europe, and globally, the five countries reporting the most cases over the week were the USA, UK, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. The latter has one of Europe’s lowest COVID-19 vaccination coverage rates - 16 percent but Armenia’s is around seven percent. SE Asia recorded the largest increase in new deaths – a rise of 50 percent – due largely to a new surge in India (up 83 percent). In our region, over half of all new cases (58 percent) were logged by Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Read more

The timeline for vaccinating at least 70 percent of the world’s population was set at the G20 meeting this week: mid-2022, with at least 40 percent receiving a dose by the end of this year. As things stand, only five African countries will meet this year’s 40 percent goal due to supply issues relating to vaccines and auto-disable syringes - Seychelles, Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia, and Cape Verde. Read more.

In related news:

- ‘COVID vaccines for 5 to 11 year olds are inching closer. Here’s what we know so far’ is explained in The Conversation. In the Middle East this week, Bahrain and the UAE gave emergency use approval for the Pfizer vaccine in children aged five to 11 years and now the US CDC (ACIP) has unanimously endorsed it for US kids in the same age group. Final approval from the CDC director is pending. More countries are expected to follow this recommendation.

- ATAGI has provided advice to the Chief Medical Officer on vaccination status, testing and quarantining for Australian children returning from overseas. Read more 

- Findings from the largest real-world study of third dose of COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness summarised by EurekAlert and ATAGI’s recommendations on the use of a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Australia, published on Oct 28.  

- At the end of last week Novavax filed a submission for provisional approval of its protein sub-unit COVID-19 vaccine to the TGA (also in Canada and the UK), while this week Indonesia’s medical regulator granted emergency use status to the NVX-CoV2373 vaccine which will be manufactured in India and distributed under the name Covovax. Read more

- Two more vaccines currently in use overseas, but not in Australia, have been ‘'recognised' by the TGA for the purposes of establishing a traveller's vaccination status’ - Covaxin (Bharat Biotech, India) and BBIBP-CorV (Sinopharm, China).

- Smartraveller advised last week that its travel advice levels were changing, with the Do Not Travel notice replaced by four levels: Exercise normal safety precautions (Level 1), Exercise a high degree of caution (Level 2), Reconsider your need to travel (Level 3) and Do not travel (Level 4).

Before you travel, call Travelvax Australia’s telephone advisory service on 1300 360 164 (toll-free from landlines) for country-specific advice and information. You can also make an appointment at your nearest Travelvax clinic to obtain vaccinations, medication to prevent or treat illness, and accessories for your journey.