KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Suspends U.S. Payments To WHO Amid COVID-19 Pandemic; World Leaders, Health Experts Decry Move

AP: Trump directs halt to payments to WHO during virus pandemic
“President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he was cutting off U.S. payments to the World Health Organization during the coronavirus pandemic, accusing the organization of failing to do enough to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China. Trump, who had telegraphed his intentions last week, claimed the outbreak could have been contained at its source and that lives could have been saved had the U.N. health agency done a better job investigating the early reports coming out of China…” (Superville, 4/14).

Devex: World calls Trump’s funding freeze to WHO ‘foolish,’ ‘dangerous’
“World leaders and influential global health figures have raised concerns against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to freeze funding to the World Health Organization amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a tweet, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said the U.S. decision to defund WHO is ‘disastrous,’ arguing the organization is not responsible for a president ignoring advice on COVID-19 measures. … Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Trump’s actions are an attempt to take away attention from his lack of preparedness in the U.S. … Billionaire-philanthropist Bill Gates said Trump’s decision, taken in the middle of a global health crisis, ‘is as dangerous as it sounds’…” (Ravelo, 4/15).

The Hill: U.N. head responds to Trump: ‘Not the time’ to reduce funds for WHO
“United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday pushed back on President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will pull funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the coronavirus pandemic is ‘not the time’ for such a move. In a statement, Guterres said it was ‘not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus’…” (Budryk, 4/14).

Science: ‘Short sighted.’ Health experts decry Trump’s freeze on U.S. funding for WHO as world fights pandemic
“…Trump did not specify how much money he intends to put on hold. In WHO’s 2-year, 2018-19 budget cycle, the U.S. was the largest single donor, providing almost $900 million of WHO’s $5.6 billion budget. In general, the White House can delay disbursing money already appropriated by Congress for a specific purpose, but must get approval from Congress to cancel such spending outright. Trump may be able to divert some of the funds appropriated to WHO to other similar purposes without getting express permission from Congress. It would likely be difficult for the White House to reclaim money already sent to WHO. Still, Trump’s action could significantly hamper the world’s fight against COVID-19, says Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University…” (Kupferschmidt/Cohen, 4/14).

Additional coverage of Trump’s suspension of funding for WHO and global reaction is available from Axios, Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Devex, Fox News, France 24, The Guardian, The Hill (2), Newsweek, New York Magazine, NPR, POLITICO, Reuters (2) (3) (4) (5) (6), STAT, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

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Group Of Republican Senators Request Information About WHO Novel Coronavirus Response In Letter To DG Tedros

The Hill: GOP senators target WHO as part of coronavirus probe
“A group of Republican senators are homing in on the World Health Organization (WHO) as they launch a probe into the coronavirus response, which is expected to include a focus on China’s handling of the disease. Seven senators sent a letter on Tuesday to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the organization, saying they were requesting information ahead of a congressional hearing on the WHO’s role in ‘helping the Chinese Communist Party cover up information regarding the threat of the Coronavirus’…” (Carney, 4/14).

Washington Times: Republican senators seek answers on WHO’s early response to coronavirus outbreak
“…The letter, signed by Republican Sens. Todd Young of Indiana, Rick Scott of Florida, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Martha McSally of Arizona, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Steve Daines of Montana, and Joni Ernst of Iowa, seeks answers on what the group called a ‘failed and delayed response’ to the outbreak. ‘American taxpayers fund the WHO, and it is up to us to make sure those taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely,’ the lawmakers wrote. … Also Tuesday, Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, unveiled legislation aimed at holding ‘the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) responsible for causing the COVID-19 global pandemic’…” (Meier, 4/14).

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Chinese Authorities Knew Of Novel Coronavirus Outbreak 6 Days Before Warning Public, AP Investigation Shows

AP: China didn’t warn public of likely pandemic for 6 key days
“In the six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus, the city of Wuhan at the epicenter of the disease hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people; millions began traveling through for Lunar New Year celebrations. President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day, Jan. 20. But by that time, more than 3,000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence, according to internal documents obtained by the Associated Press and expert estimates based on retrospective infection data. … That delay from Jan. 14 to Jan. 20 was neither the first mistake made by Chinese officials at all levels in confronting the outbreak, nor the longest lag, as governments around the world have dragged their feet for weeks and even months in addressing the virus. But the delay by the first country to face the new coronavirus came at a critical time — the beginning of the outbreak. China’s attempt to walk a line between alerting the public and avoiding panic set the stage for a pandemic that has infected almost 2 million people and taken more than 126,000 lives…” (4/15).

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Media Outlets Examine Trump Administration, USAID, Congressional Actions During COVID-19 Pandemic, Profile Anthony Fauci

The Atlantic: Anthony Fauci, Lightning Rod (Nicholas/Friedman, 4/14).

Devex: USAID ships COVID-19 supplies from Dubai to Oregon (Igoe, 4/14).

POLITICO: 5 ways the Trump administration fell short of its own pandemic goals (Ollstein, 4/14).

Roll Call: Biodefense must be a permanent White House focus, Murphy and Romney say (Oswald, 4/14).

Washington Post: Trump and Fauci’s conspicuous non-denial denials about early coronavirus warnings (Blake, 4/14).

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IMF Approves Immediate Debt Relief For 25 Countries, Forecasts Economic Growth Will Be -3%; G7, Faith Groups, AFL-CIO Support Debt Relief For Poor Nations

CNBC Africa: IMF approves immediate debt relief for 25 countries amid COVID-19 crisis
“In the wake of the global COVID-19 crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board has approved immediate debt service relief to 25 poor and vulnerable countries…” (4/14).

Financial Times: G7 countries back debt relief for poorest nations
“G7 finance ministers and central bank governors have backed debt relief for low-income countries to help cushion their economies from the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, in a sign of the growing concerns about financial stability in emerging markets. The support for debt relief came in a virtual meeting held on Tuesday morning and chaired by Steven Mnuchin, the U.S. treasury secretary…” (Politi/Wheatley, 4/14).

Reuters: Faith groups, AFL-CIO urge U.S., IMF, G20 to cancel debt for poor countries
“The AFL-CIO union federation and nearly 80 other faith groups on Tuesday urged the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund and G20 nations to cancel debt payments by developing countries so they could focus on fighting the coronavirus outbreak…” (Shalal, 4/14).

U.N. News: COVID-19: Growth forecast at -3 percent, as IMF offers debt relief to most vulnerable nations in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Caribbean
“Forecasting the ‘worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,’ the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that growth for the year was likely to end up at minus three percent, with a dramatic change evident since the last World Economic Outlook report in January…” (4/14).

Washington Post: The pandemic is ravaging the world’s poor, even if they’re untouched by the virus
“…[E]ven if the virus doesn’t spread in packed cities and towns where effective social distancing is impossible, the pandemic will have already exacted a bitter price. For hundreds of millions of people suddenly stripped of livelihoods, daily wages and the means for their families’ survival, poverty may kill sooner than the coronavirus…” (Tharoor, 4/15).

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Some African, Asian Countries Face Food Shortages Amid Pandemic; European Nations Struggle To Coordinate Lockdown Exit Strategies

AFRICA

AP: Virus choking off supply of what Africa needs most: Food (Mutsaka/Odula, 4/15).

Mail & Guardian: In Sierra Leone, malaria spiked during Ebola. Will it happen again during Covid-19? (Brima, 4/14).

New Humanitarian: COVID-19 has Kenyan refugee camp on edge (Rodgers et al., 4/14).

U.N. News: COVID-19: Major relief airlift will reach ‘most vulnerable’ African nations (4/14).

ASIA

Foreign Policy: Lockdown or Starvation? Poorer Economies Weigh Impossible Choice (Agrawal, 4/14).

NPR: Taiwan Reports No New Coronavirus Cases, Adding To Success In Fighting Pandemic (Chappell, 4/14).

Washington Post: South Korean voters pass through coronavirus medical checks on way to ballot box (Kim/Denyer, 4/15).

EUROPE

The Guardian: From Liberia to Spain: working in disaster zones (Encinas/Jones, 4/14).

POLITICO: Every European country for itself on coronavirus exit strategy (Herszenhorn/Gehrke, 4/14).

PRI: Top scientist says he quit research council over poor European response to COVID-19 (Oseran, 4/14).

LATIN AMERICA

AP: U.N. Colombia envoy: ex-combatants making masks amid pandemic (Lederer, 4/15).

AP: Guatemala: U.S. deportations driving up COVID-19 cases (Pérez D., 4/15).

New Humanitarian: Coronavirus brings new worries for Venezuelans in Colombian shanty town (Baddour/Huang, 4/14).

Newsweek: Chile Counts Those Who Died of Coronavirus as Recovered Because They’re ‘No Longer Contagious,’ Health Minister Says (Kim, 4/14).

PRI: Bolsonaro’s denial of coronavirus puts the country at risk (Kemeny, 4/14).

MIDDLE EAST

Bloomberg: Saudi Arabia Races to Contain Epidemic in Islam’s Holiest City (Nereim, 4/14).

U.N. News: Syria coronavirus threat sparks broad UN containment effort (4/14).

NORTH AMERICA

AP: Military sees no quick exit from ‘new world’ of coronavirus (Burns, 4/15).

The Atlantic: Our Pandemic Summer (Yong, 4/14).

Washington Post: CDC, FEMA have created a plan to reopen America. Here’s what it says (Sun et al., 4/14).

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Misinformation Hindering COVID-19 Responses Worldwide, U.N. SG Warns, Calls On Nations, Private Sector To Do More, Launches Communication Campaign

AP: U.N. chief: world faces misinformation epidemic about virus
“U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned Tuesday that the world is facing ‘a dangerous epidemic of misinformation’ about COVID-19 and announced a U.N. campaign to flood the internet with facts and science to counter what he called ‘a poison’ that is putting lives at risk…” (Lederer, 4/14).

Devex: The community engagement lessons being used to fight COVID-19
“…COVID-19 has to date been confirmed in 184 countries across all seven continents, with over 1.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, and more than 82,000 deaths, as of April 8. This poses an enormous task for organizations involved in risk communication and community engagement work. But the situation also reinforces the critical role of local organizations and volunteers…” (Ravelo, 4/15).

POLITICO: One-third of people have seen misleading info on Covid-19 on social media
“Roughly one in three people across the United States, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina, and South Korea say they’ve seen false or misleading information on social media linked to the coronavirus, according to a new report. The analysis, published Wednesday by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, comes as Facebook and Google say they’ve pulled out all the stops to clamp down on how misinformation about Covid-19 is shared on their networks…” (Scott, 4/15).

U.N. News: Hatred going viral in ‘dangerous epidemic of misinformation’ during COVID-19 pandemic
“…First, [Guterres] urged, ‘trust in science.’ He also saluted the journalists and others who are fact-checking the mountain of misleading stories and social media posts. ‘Social media companies must do more to root out hate and harmful assertions about COVID-19,’ he stressed. Secondly, he advocated for trust in institutions that are grounded in responsive, responsible, evidence-based governance, and leadership. And finally, he emphasized that we need ‘trust in each other,’ with mutual respect and human rights as our ‘compass’ to navigate this crisis…” (4/14).

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News Outlets Examine Quickened Pace Of Science Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, How Researchers Learn From Past Epidemics

Financial Times: Africa’s scientists learn from past epidemics to fight Covid-19 (Munshi, 4/15).

New York Times: Coronavirus Tests Science’s Need for Speed Limits (Yan, 4/14).

STAT: Why a decades-old TB vaccine is getting attention in the fight against Covid-19 (Branswell, 4/14).

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WHO Ebola Emergency Committee Says DRC Outbreak Remains PHEIC

Al Jazeera: WHO says DRC’s Ebola outbreak is still an international emergency
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern following the emergence of fresh cases. The announcement on Tuesday came just a day after the country had been expected to announce that its outbreak — the tenth recorded in its history and by far its largest — was over…” (4/14).

AP/VOA News: WHO Emergency Committee Meets on Ebola After New DRC Case
“…The epidemic has killed 2,276 people to date. For it to be declared over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days — double the incubation period. But as the World Health Organization’s emergency committee met last Friday to determine whether its declaration of a so-called Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, could be lifted, a new case was reported. ‘We now have three cases, two people who have died, one person who is alive,’ WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in a virtual briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. She said that all of the contacts of those cases had been traced and vaccinated and were being followed closely…” (4/14).

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More News In Global Health

CIDRAP News: Study finds evidence of COVID-19 in air, on hospital surfaces (Beusekom, 4/13).

Devex: How is COVID-19 affecting malaria programs? (Ravelo, 4/15).

Devex: Australian NGOs start campaigning for international COVID-19 support (Cornish, 4/15).

Devex: A virtual pledging conference? Venezuela could be first (Welsh, 4/15).

The Guardian: Food rations to 1.4 million refugees cut in Uganda due to funding shortfall (Okiror, 4/14).

Health24: Coronavirus: How the Gates Foundation is helping fight the pandemic (Ebrahim, 4/14).

IPS: India’s Liberal Abortion Law, Nullified by Social Stigma (Paul, 4/14).

STAT: Some social distancing may be needed into 2022 to keep coronavirus in check, new study says (Branswell, 4/14).

Undark: In Poor Nations, a New Disease Stalls Efforts to Fight Old Ones (Peeples, 4/14).

Vox: Bill Gates’s efforts to fight coronavirus, explained (Piper, 4/14).

Washington Post: Why girls in poor countries will suffer the most from worldwide closing of schools during covid-19 (Strauss, 4/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic

Bloomberg: Coronavirus Chaos Is the IMF’s Biggest Test Ever
Clive Crook, Bloomberg Opinion columnist (4/14).

Bloomberg: Trump’s Funding Cut Won’t Fix the WHO’s Problems
David Fickling, Bloomberg Opinion columnist (4/15).

Financial Times: Only victory in Africa can end the pandemic everywhere
18 African and European leaders (4/14).

Foreign Policy: We Can Make the Post-Coronavirus World a Much Less Violent Place
Robert Muggah, founder of the Igarapé Institute and SecDev Group and author, and Steven Pinker, Johnstone family professor of psychology at Harvard University and author (4/14).

Foreign Policy: How to Stop a Looming Food Crisis
Maximo Torero, chief economist of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (4/14).

The Hill: Is Iran on the brink of a coronavirus coup?
A.J. Caschetta, Ginsburg-Ingerman fellow at the Middle East Forum and principal lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology (4/14).

New York Times: Joe Biden: My Plan to Safely Reopen America
Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic nominee for president (4/12).

New York Times: Letters to the Editor: Critiques of Joe Biden’s Coronavirus Plan
Karen L. Hoover, retired internist, Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, and others (4/14).

New York Times: Who Is Immune to the Coronavirus?
Marc Lipsitch, professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Immunology and Infectious Diseases and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (4/13).

Project Syndicate: Avoiding a COVID-19 Migration Crisis
Md. Shahidul Haque, senior fellow at North South University in Dhaka (4/14).

TIME: I Helped Fight the Ebola Outbreak in Liberia. Here’s What It Takes to Conquer a Pandemic
Jerry Brown, CEO of JFK Medical Center in Monrovia, Liberia (4/14).

TIME: Samantha Power: How the COVID-19 Era Will Change National Security Forever
Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. from 2013 to 2017 and author (4/14).

Washington Post: The science is challenging. But we should be hopeful for a covid-19 vaccine or drug
Editorial Board (4/14).

Washington Post: National governments have gone big. The IMF and World Bank need to do the same
Gordon Brown, British prime minister from 2007 to 2010 and chancellor of the exchequer from 1997 to 2007, and Lawrence H. Summers, professor at and past president of Harvard University, U.S. Treasury secretary from 1999 to 2001, and economic adviser to President Barack Obama from 2009 through 2010 (4/14).

Washington Post: Taiwan must participate in the WHO. Global health is too important to play politics
John Pomfret, author and former Washington Post bureau chief in Beijing (4/14).

Washington Post: Other countries ponder when to reopen. Iran is already doing it
Jason Rezaian, writer for Global Opinions at the Washington Post (4/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Health Community Publishes Blog Posts, Press Releases On COVID-19 Pandemic

African Arguments: How Covid-19 Lockdowns Affect Healthcare of Non-Covid Cases
Adejoke Adeboyejo, freelance writer based in Lagos, Nigeria (4/14).

ASTMH: American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (AJTMH) COVID-19 Collection (April 2020).

BMJ Opinion: Covid-19 is an opportunity for gender equality within the workplace and at home
Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics; Julia Smith, research associate in faculty of health sciences at Simon Fraser University; and Rosemary Morgan, assistant scientist in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (4/15).

Brookings: Solving both the short- and long-term COVID-19 crises
Mahmoud Mohieldin, special envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the U.N., and Michael Kelleher, director of external affairs at the 2Blades Foundation (4/14).

Human Rights Watch: COVID-19 in Yemen — A Perfect Storm
Afrah Nasser, Yemen researcher with the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch

IMF: The Great Lockdown: Worst Economic Downturn Since the Great Depression
Gita Gopinath, economic counsellor and director of the research department at the International Monetary Fund (4/14).

MSF: MSF supports Iraqi hospitals responding to COVID-19 (4/14).

ONE: Opinion: The inequities in the health impact of COVID-19
Jef Vanhamel, medical doctor and ONE youth ambassador (4/14).

Science Speaks: COVID-19: This pandemic offers a lesson we must learn before the next
Manish Kumar and Jim Thomas of MEASURE Evaluation, and Bobby Jefferson of DAI Global Health (4/14).

U.N.: Calibrating the COVID-19 Crisis Response to the SDGs
Kevin P. Gallagher, professor and director of the global development policy center at Boston University and member of the U.N. Committee on Development Policy; William N. Kring, assistant director of the Global Development Policy Center; and Jose Antonio Ocamp, professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and chair of the U.N. Committee for Development Policy (4/14).

UNFPA: Ethiopia’s midwives grapple with the COVID-19 while ensuring safe delivery (4/14).

WHO: First U.N. solidarity flight departs Addis Ababa carrying vital COVID-19 medical supplies to all African nations (4/14).

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Global Health Community Recognizes First-Ever World Chagas Disease Day In Effort To Raise Awareness Of 'Silent And Silenced Disease'

U.N. News: World Chagas Disease Day highlights ‘silent and silenced’ tropical illness
“Cost-effective interventions such as blood screening, as well as improved hygiene and food safety, could save millions from what the World Health Organization (WHO) has described as a ‘silent and silenced disease’ that mainly affects poor people. For the first time, the international community [on Tuesday recognized] World Chagas Disease Day to raise awareness of this neglected and entirely treatable tropical disease…” (4/14).

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From the U.S. Government

President Trump, Members Of White House Coronavirus Task Force Provide Update On U.S. Response To COVID-19 In Press Briefing

White House: 4/14/20: Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing
In this press briefing held Tuesday, President Trump and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force discuss developments regarding the U.S. response to COVID-19 (4/14).

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Congressional Research Service Webpage Lists COVID-19-Related Publications

Congressional Research Service: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
“This page contains a listing of published research products the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has prepared for Congress related to COVID-19,” including a report on the global economic impacts of the pandemic, updated on April 10 (April 2020).

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CDC Newsletter Highlights First-Ever World Chagas Disease Day

CDC’s “Around the World”: World Chagas Disease Day 2020
The latest issue of CDC’s “Around the World” newsletter recognizes the first-ever World Chagas Disease Day and highlights a collection of resources on Chagas disease (April 2020).

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From KFF

KFF Resources Examine Global, Domestic Issues Related To COVID-19

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of April 15, 2020 (4/15).

Additional KFF COVID-19 resources, including those focused on the response and impact within the U.S., are available here. KFF’s new blog series “Coronavirus Policy Watch” is available here.

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