KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Malaria-Related Deaths Could Double In Africa This Year Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, WHO Warns Ahead Of World Malaria Day

The Guardian: Pandemic could ‘turn back the clock’ 20 years on malaria deaths, warns WHO
“Deaths from malaria could double across sub-Saharan Africa this year if work to prevent the disease is disrupted by Covid-19, the World Health Organization has warned. The U.N.’s global health agency said that if countries failed to maintain delivery of insecticide-treated nets and access to antimalarial medicines, up to 769,000 people could die of malaria this year. That figure, which would be more than double the number of deaths in 2018, would mark a return to mortality levels last seen 20 years ago…” (Ahmed, 4/23).

Additional coverage of the WHO report and World Malaria Day is available from AP, The Telegraph, and VOA.

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Financial Times Special Report Examines Global Efforts, Challenges To Combating Malaria

Financial Times: FT Health: Combating Malaria
In this special report, the Financial Times examines “[h]ow the fight against coronavirus could set back malaria progress by 20 years; lockdown and drug ‘hijack’ fears in India; a childhood malaria sufferer turned medical scientist on why Africa needs treatments that fit,” and more (Multiple authors, 4/23).

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43% Increase In COVID-19 Cases In Africa Over Past Week; 20 European Countries Likely Pass First Peak; Syria Faces Coronavirus While Protracted War Continues


AP: Africa dangerously behind in global race for virus gear (Anna et al., 4/24).

AP: Africa’s 43% jump in virus cases in 1 week worries experts (Imray, 4/23).

New Humanitarian: Township lockdown: How South Africa’s poor bear the cost of coronavirus (Oliver, 4/23).

PRI: In fight against coronavirus, Ghana uses drones to speed up testing (Romero/Emmanouilidou, 4/23).

Reuters: African nations to get ventilators from Jack Ma foundation, stress need for WHO help (Paravicini/George, 4/23).

Reuters: African Union envoy says virus outbreak would be a disaster for Africa (Cornwell, 4/23).

Reuters: Botswana’s president, lawmakers out of quarantine after testing negative for coronavirus (Benza, 4/23).

Washington Post: Warnings of worsening hunger, malaria emerge as coronavirus cases spike 40% in Africa (Paquette/Tall, 4/23).


Devex: North Korea faces protracted humanitarian crises despite zero COVID-19 cases reported (Cornish, 4/23).

The Hill: China could have had 4 times number of reported coronavirus cases: study (Bowden, 4/23).

New York Times: China Imposes New Limits as Coronavirus Fears Return (Mozur et al., 4/23).

Reuters: Mortality rates drop sharply in parts of India, bucking coronavirus trend (Ulmer et al., 4/24).

Reuters: South Asia coronavirus cases top 37,000, headache for governments eyeing lockdown end (Miglani et al., 4/23).


New York Times: The Secretive Group Guiding the U.K. on Coronavirus (Landler et al., 4/23).

POLITICO: Coronavirus ‘passed its peak’ in 20 European countries (Wheaton, 4/23).

Reuters: Russia to open 1,000-bed hospital in exhibition center by end of the week (Golubkova/Kiselyova, 4/24).

Reuters: ‘Still at the beginning’: Merkel asks Germans for resilience in coronavirus battle (Carrel et al., 4/23).

Washington Post: Nursing homes linked to up to half of coronavirus deaths in Europe, WHO says (Birnbaum et al., 4/23).


Americas Quarterly: Coronavirus and Fake News: 5 Tales from Latin America (Hopkins, 4/23).

New York Times: Ecuador’s Death Toll During Outbreak Is Among the Worst in the World (Cabrera/Kurmanaev, 4/23).


Christian Science Monitor: Could pandemic pave a path to peace? Why Yemen war is resistant (Peterson, 4/22).

Foreign Policy: Syria’s Forgotten War Is a Pandemic Time Bomb (Gramer et al., 4/23).

Reuters: Emirati police deploy smart tech in coronavirus fight (Cornwell, 4/24).

Reuters: In Syria rebel stronghold, building makeshift ventilators to fight virus (Ashawi/Francis, 4/23).

Washington Post: U.S. aid cuts are deepening Yemen’s misery. Now comes the coronavirus (Raghaven/Mujahed, 4/23).


Foreign Policy: Humans Are Too Optimistic to Comprehend the Coronavirus (Khazan, 4/23).

POLITICO: Humans Are Too Optimistic to Comprehend the Coronavirus (Gardner, 4/23).

POLITICO: Canada: One million respirators acquired from China unfit for coronavirus fight (Blatchford, 4/23).

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U.S. Intelligence Community Investigating Possibility Novel Coronavirus Could Be Used As Bioweapon; Former U.N. Ambassador Power Discusses Importance Of Pandemic Security

POLITICO: Officials probe the threat of a coronavirus bioweapon
“The Pentagon and the intelligence community are more forcefully investigating the possibility that adversaries could use the novel coronavirus as a bioweapon, according to defense and intelligence officials, in a shift that reflects the national security apparatus’ evolving understanding of the virus and its risks. Officials emphasized that the change does not mean they believe the virus was purposefully created to be weaponized — the intelligence community is still investigating the virus’ potential origins, but there is currently no hard intelligence or scientific evidence to support the theory that it spread from a lab in China, people briefed on the matter said…” (Bertrand et al., 4/23).

PRI: Pandemic security must be ‘top line concern’ says former Amb. Power
“…[Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power] says the coronavirus can only be tackled if wealthy nations work hand-in-hand with the developing world. Power spoke with The World’s host Marco Werman about how lessons from that experience apply to the pandemic the globe is facing today…” (4/23).

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Senate Democrats Call For USAID Representation On White House Coronavirus Task Force, Citing Importance Of Combining Domestic, International Response

The Hill: Senate Democrats call for USAID to join coronavirus task force
“Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday called for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to be added to the White House’s coronavirus task force, saying the administration needs to combine its domestic and international response to effectively combat COVID-19…” (Kelly, 4/23).

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STAT Examines Involvement Of BARDA Official In Emergency Use Authorization Decision Over Malaria Drug, Usually Overseen By FDA

STAT: Why was an obscure federal bureaucrat involved in Trump’s emergency hydroxychloroquine authorization?
“Rick Bright, a bureaucrat at an obscure federal agency, burst onto the political stage this week with allegations that the Trump White House put politics ahead of science to advance an untested malaria drug as a coronavirus treatment — explosive claims that beg the question: Why was Bright involved in decisions about the drug at all? Bright does not work at the Food and Drug Administration, which governs nearly all of the nation’s decisions about whether medicines are safe and effective. … The Trump administration, though, did involve him in a controversial decision to use an arcane emergency authorization process to beef up U.S. supplies of the malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine. Bright says he pushed back vehemently and was subsequently demoted as a result. The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees his old post, says Bright was the one who requested the emergency authorization in the first place. The issue raises a litany of questions about exactly who should have been — and who was — involved in the decision to ramp up supplies of the drug, especially since a STAT review of 10 years’ worth of public emergency authorizations shows that no one in Bright’s role has before been so closely involved. Sources tell STAT, too, that even high-ranking FDA officials were kept out of the loop in this instance…” (Florko, 4/24).

Additional coverage of Bright’s demotion and allegations is available from The Hill and POLITICO.

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Chinese Diplomats Defend Country's COVID-19 Response; Trump Administration Looks To Shift WHO Funding To Other Groups As House Democrats Call For Funding Resumption

AP: China’s diplomats show teeth in defending virus response
“From Asia to Africa, London to Berlin, Chinese envoys have set off diplomatic firestorms with a combative defense whenever their country is accused of not acting quickly enough to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. They belong to a new generation of ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomats, named after patriotic blockbuster films starring a muscle-bound Chinese commando killing American bad guys in Africa and Southeast Asia with his bare hands…” (Kang et al., 4/24).

The Hill: Trump escalates WHO fight by redirecting funds to other groups
“The U.S. is starting to shift its World Health Organization (WHO) contributions to other health-focused groups, marking an escalation in President Trump’s fight with the WHO. The move is part of the Trump administration’s efforts to punish the WHO after suspending payments to the global health body pending a ‘review’ of its response to the coronavirus pandemic…” (Kelly, 4/23).

The Hill: House Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats call on Trump to resume WHO funding
“Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday called on President Trump to resume funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), calling his policy misguided and a distraction from the administration’s own response. In a letter sent to Trump, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and 25 Democratic colleagues criticized the president’s funding freeze and ending support in the middle of a crisis…” (Kelly, 4/23).

Additional coverage of global health diplomacy among the WHO, China, and the U.S. is available from Devex, Reuters, Sydney Morning Herald, USA TODAY, and Washington Post.

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Maintaining Regular Immunizations During Pandemic Vital To Preventing Childhood Disease Resurgence, WHO Warns

The Hill: WHO warns against closing immunization services during coronavirus pandemic
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday warned against shutting down immunization services during the coronavirus pandemic, saying closures could risk resurgences of easily preventable diseases. The WHO said in a press release that illnesses like measles and polio could rise if immunizations are disrupted for even a brief period of time and could reverse ‘immense progress’ in disseminating vaccines for such diseases…” (Axelrod, 4/23).

Bloomberg: Virus Care Disruptions Raise Infant Death Risk in Poor Nations (Pollack, 4/23).

New York Times: Vaccine Rates Drop Dangerously as Parents Avoid Doctor’s Visits (Hoffman, 4/23).

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Novel Coronavirus Pandemic Upending Global Assumptions On American Exceptionalism, Leadership

New York Times: ‘Sadness’ and Disbelief From a World Missing American Leadership
“…The pandemic sweeping the globe has done more than take lives and livelihoods from New Delhi to New York. It is shaking fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism — the special role the United States played for decades after World War II as the reach of its values and power made it a global leader and example to the world. Today it is leading in a different way: More than 840,000 Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and at least 46,784 have died from it, more than anywhere else in the world. As the calamity unfolds, President Trump and state governors are not only arguing over what to do, but also over who has the authority to do it…” (Bennhold, 4/23).

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Subdued Ramadan Begins Under Coronavirus-Related Lockdowns

AP: Muslims begin marking a subdued Ramadan under virus closures
“Muslims worldwide began Ramadan on Friday with dawn-to-dusk fasting, but many will have to forgo the communal prayers and family gatherings that make the holy month special, as authorities maintain lockdowns aimed at slowing the coronavirus pandemic. Ramadan is usually a festive season, with the daylong fast followed by lavish meals and evening get-togethers. But this year many are confined to their homes, travel is heavily restricted and public venues like parks, malls, and even mosques are shuttered. Many are also weighed down by anxiety about the pandemic and widespread job losses resulting from the worldwide shutdowns…” (Karmini et al., 4/24).

Additional coverage of Ramadan amid the COVID-19 pandemic is available from Al Jazeera, NBC, and NPR.

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Bill Gates Examines Behavior Change, Innovation Needed To Emerge From COVID-19 Lockdowns

STAT: In long essay, Bill Gates says time and innovation needed before coronavirus lockdowns end
“Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates on Thursday warned that the world’s emergence from coronavirus lockdowns will be slow, and cautioned that it will take innovation before people feel safe enough to attend large public events or flock to restaurants. ‘Even as a government relaxes restrictions on behavior, not everyone will immediately resume the activities that are allowed,’ Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote in a long essay posted Thursday to his blog. … Gates said that the dramatic shutdowns of cities and countries worldwide have been necessary to slow spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, despite the enormous societal costs…” (Branswell, 4/23).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Can the development sector protect indigenous communities from COVID-19? (Cornish, 4/24).

The Guardian: Pandemic potentially a ‘death sentence’ for many prison inmates, experts warn (Summers, 4/23).

The Lancet: Travel restrictions hampering COVID-19 response (Devi, 4/25).

Reuters: U.N. agency calls for $1 trillion developing world debt write-off (Bavier, 4/23).

Reuters: WHO to launch initiative to share COVID-19 drugs, tests and vaccines — statement (Nebehay, 4/23).

Reuters: Buildings closed by coronavirus face another risk: Legionnaires’ disease (Shiffman et al., 4/24).

Science: Surveys of infectious disease experts aim to predict COVID-19’s toll (Brainard, 4/23).

U.N. News: Human rights ‘uplift everyone’; must guide COVID-19 recovery response, says U.N. chief (4/23).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorials, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including China's Role

The Conversation: World Health Organization: what does it spend its money on?
Sumit Mazumdar, research fellow at the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York (4/23).

Devex: Opinion: ‘Accelerate your commitments’ during COVID-19 — an open letter to donors
Representatives of the Network for Empowered Aid Response (NEAR), Civicus, and the Global Fund for Community Foundations (4/23).

The Hill: Challenge China and the WHO — but not while the pandemic rages
Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute (4/23).

The Lancet: India under COVID-19 lockdown
Editorial Board (4/25).

The Lancet: Offline: Why President Trump is wrong about WHO
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet (4/25).

POLITICO: A Second Covid Crisis Is Coming
David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, and Sheryl Sandberg, founder of LeanIn.org and COO of Facebook (4/24).

Project Syndicate: What COVID-19 Reveals About the U.S. and China
Andrew Sheng, distinguished fellow of the Asia Global Institute at the University of Hong Kong and member of the UNEP Advisory Council on Sustainable Finance, and Xiao Geng, president of the Hong Kong Institution for International Finance and professor and director of the Research Institute of Maritime Silk-Road at Peking University HSBC Business School (4/23).

Project Syndicate: Patents vs. the Pandemic
Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics and university professor at Columbia University; Arjun Jayadev, professor of economics at Azim Premji University and senior economist at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and Achal Prabhala, fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation and coordinator of the accessibsa project (4/23).

Project Syndicate: COVID-19 and the Thucydides Trap
Yu Yongding, former president of the China Society of World Economics and director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Kevin P. Gallagher, professor of global development policy at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies (4/24).

Washington Post: Suing China over the coronavirus won’t help. Here’s what can work.
John B. Bellinger III, partner with Arnold & Porter and adjunct senior fellow in international and national security law at the Council on Foreign Relations (4/23).

Washington Post: Why Iran’s coronavirus pandemic is also a crisis of human rights
Nazanin Boniadi, actress, activist, and member of the Board of Directors at the Center for Human Rights in Iran (4/23).

Washington Post: India should begin easing its lockdown. Too many are suffering
Barkha Dutt, TV journalist, anchor, and author (4/23).

Washington Post: Here are the innovations we need to reopen the economy
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (4/23).

Washington Post: The world will demand answers on covid-19 until China explains what happened
David Ignatius, columnist at the Washington Post (4/23).

Washington Post: The coronavirus crisis shows the risks of scientific collaboration with China
Josh Rogin, columnist for Global Opinions at the Washington Post (4/23).

Washington Post: Mitt Romney: America is awakening to China. This is a clarion call to seize the moment
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) (4/23).

Washington Post: Rushing to reopen will be lethal. Just look at ‘Jaws’
Michael S. Saag, associate dean for global health and director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (4/23).

Washington Post: The pandemic could be a call to action on climate change
Ishaan Tharoor, foreign affairs writer at the Washington Post (4/24).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Malaria No More, WHO Release Statements Recognizing World Malaria Day

Malaria No More: World Malaria Day: In the Face of COVID-19, Urgent Opportunity to Save Lives from Malaria and Protect Health Capacity (4/23).

World Health Organization: WHO urges countries to move quickly to save lives from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa (4/23).

World Health Organization: The potential impact of health service disruptions on the burden of malaria (4/23).

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Blog Posts, Podcasts, Statements Address Various Aspects Of COVID-19

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Primary health care is exactly that
Jean Kagubare, deputy director for Health Systems Design at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (April 2020).

BMJ Opinion: Covid-19 and sub-Saharan Africa’s critical care infrastructure
Edgar Asiimwe, medical student at Stanford University School of Medicine, and Saraswati Kache, clinical professor in the Division of Critical Care in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (4/23).

BMJ Opinion: Renee N. Salas: Lessons from the covid-19 pandemic provide a blueprint for the climate emergency
Renee N. Salas, affiliated faculty at the Harvard Global Health Institute and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School (4/23).

Brookings: Global solutions to global ‘bads’: 2 practical proposals to help developing countries deal with the COVID-19 pandemic
Ajay Chhibber, distinguished visiting scholar with the Institute of International Economic Policy at George Washington University and nonresident senior fellow with The Atlantic Council (4/22).

Center for Global Development: Scoping the Indirect Health Effects of COVID-19: An Open Call for Resources
Lydia Regan, research assistant, and Y-Ling Chi, senior policy analyst, both with the Center for Global Development (4/23).

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Take as Directed” Podcast: Coronavirus Crisis Update: Former Senator Kelly Ayotte on Ending the Cycle of Crisis and Complacency
J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center, and H. Andrew Schwartz, chief communications officer, both with CSIS (4/22).

Center for Strategic & International Studies’ “Take as Directed” Podcast: Coronavirus Crisis Update: Peter Sands, the Global Fund – “The contagion of fear”
J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center, and H. Andrew Schwartz, chief communications officer, both with CSIS (4/21).

Gates Notes: The first modern pandemic
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (4/23).

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: The Other Time a U.S. President Withheld WHO Funds
Karen Kruse Thomas, Bloomberg School historian (4/21).

U.N.: We are all in this Together: Human Rights and COVID-19 Response and Recovery
António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations (4/23).

U.N.: U.N. urges countries to ‘build back better’ (April 2020).

U.N. Dispatch’s “Global Dispatches Podcast”: How COVID-19 is Accelerating Geopolitical Shifts
Mark Leon Goldberg, editor of U.N. Dispatch and host of the Global Dispatches Podcast (4/23).

World Economic Forum: Why we cannot lose sight of the Sustainable Development Goals during coronavirus
Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway, and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, president of the Republic of Ghana, both co-chairs of the U.N. Secretary-General’s SDG Advocates (4/23).

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MFAN Applauds Partial Reinstatement Of U.S. Assistance To Central America, Calls For Assessment Of Costs Associated With Aid Suspension

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network: MFAN Hails Reinstatement of U.S. Assistance to Central America, but Joins Call for Study on Lost Resources and Impact
In a statement delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), MFAN co-chairs Lester Munson, Larry Nowels, and Tessie San Martin discuss the U.S. Department of State’s recent decision to partially resume foreign assistance funding to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, noting, “While the coalition applauds the reinstatement of some of the assistance, MFAN notes that the resumption should be based on an analysis of priority needs in the region today, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and what specific types of programs offer the best evidence of effectively supporting those priorities. … MFAN applauds House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel for requesting a Government Accountability Office study to assess the full costs of suspending U.S. assistance to Central America. MFAN echoes this call and emphasizes the importance of an assessment of the programs that were forced to close prematurely, and of the programmatic, outcome-based, administrative, and credibility costs of suspending and reinstating U.S. assistance to Central America. This will help guide future investments in the region and may also help future administrations accurately weigh the risks of suspending foreign assistance to obtain policy outcomes” (4/23).

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Lancet Infectious Diseases Publishes Study Tracking Total Spending On TB Efforts In LMICs

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Tracking total spending on tuberculosis by source and function in 135 low-income and middle-income countries, 2000-17: a financial modelling study
Yanfang Su of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and colleagues examine total spending on tuberculosis, including government spending, development assistance, out-of-pocket spending, and prepaid private spending in low- and middle-income countries (4/23).

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From the U.S. Government

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

White House: 4/23/20: Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing
In this press briefing held Thursday, President Trump, Vice President Pence, and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force discuss developments regarding the U.S. response to COVID-19 (4/23).

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MMWR Provides Update On Worldwide Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus Outbreaks

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Update on Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus Outbreaks — Worldwide, July 2019-February 2020
Mary M. Alleman, epidemiologist in the Global Immunization Division at the CDC’s Center for Global Health, and colleagues provide an update on worldwide vaccine-derived poliovirus outbreaks and note that there were 31 ongoing and new outbreaks documented from July 2019- February 2020 and nine outbreaks spread internationally (4/24).

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From KFF

KFF Updates Brief On U.S. Global Health Assets In LMICs Amid COVID-19, Another On Donor Funding For Pandemic

KFF: Preparing for COVID-19 in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Leveraging U.S. Global Health Assets
This data note updates an earlier analysis that examined where the U.S. government already had existing global health assets that could be mobilized to address COVID-19. It includes the latest case numbers, expands beyond health to identify countries where the U.S. also provides (non-health) development assistance, and identifies the most recent list of countries receiving COVID-19 assistance from the U.S. In addition, it indicates the level of COVID-19 preparedness in each country, based on the World Health Organization’s country preparedness and readiness assessment index (Kates/Moss/Oum, 4/24).

KFF: Donor Funding for the Global Novel Coronavirus Response
This updated data note provides an accounting of publicly available information on donor funding to date for the global coronavirus response. The vast majority (85%) was provided by donor governments (including the U.S.), the World Bank, and other multilateral organizations (Moss, 4/23).

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of April 24, 2020 (4/24).

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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