KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report
In The News
- WTO Delays Decision On Proposal To Waive Intellectual Property Rules For COVID-19 Drugs, Vaccines
Reuters: WTO delays decision on waiver on COVID-19 drug, vaccine rights
“World Trade Organization members on Thursday delayed a decision on a proposal to waive intellectual property rules for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines amid ongoing opposition from wealthy countries, a Geneva trade official said. ‘Big Pharma’ has rejected an idea proposed by India and South Africa that would grant compulsory licensing of the vaccines and drugs by overriding patent rules of WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement, allowing generic or other manufactures to make the new products. The proposal has won support from some countries at the WTO but is opposed by Western countries, including Britain, Switzerland, and the United States, which have strong domestic pharmaceutical industries…” (Farge/Nebehay, 12/10).
- FDA Panel Endorses Pfizer-BioNTech Coronavirus Vaccine, Authorization Expected Soon; Operation Warp Speed Trying To Help Obtain More Raw Materials For Vaccine Production
AP: U.S. panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
“A U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Thursday, putting the country just one step away from launching an epic vaccination campaign against the outbreak that has killed close to 300,000 Americans. Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the Food and Drug Administration signs off, as expected, on the expert committee’s recommendation…” (Neergaard/Perrone, 12/10).
Financial Times: U.S. offers to help increase production of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine
“The U.S. government is offering to help increase production of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, as it tries to secure another 100m doses of the jab that regulators are reviewing. Operation Warp Speed, the government program to accelerate the development of a vaccine, is trying to double its pre-order of doses, after soaring demand has led to a shortage, according to people familiar with the matter. Operation Warp Speed is trying to help Pfizer obtain more raw materials and equipment under the Defense Production Act to ensure it can produce the extra doses by June 2021, according to one of the people…” (Kuchler et al., 12/11).
POLITICO: U.S. health officials say authorization is imminent for Pfizer coronavirus vaccine
“…An independent FDA advisory committee on Thursday voted to recommend use of the Pfizer vaccine for people aged 16 and older. The panel’s recommendation is nonbinding, but the agency’s top vaccine official, Peter Marks, has stated that the FDA could grant its blessing in a matter of days. Marks issued a statement with FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on Friday morning confirming Azar’s announcement, and saying that the agency ‘will rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization.’ The two officials added that they have also notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, so that it can gear up for the distribution effort…” (Niedzwiadek, 12/11).
STAT: The timeline for Covid-19 vaccine distribution keeps slipping. Experts say it will change again
“…The shifting timelines are already apparent with Covid-19 vaccine distribution in the U.S. — even before the rollout starts in the coming days. The Trump administration declared in May that 300 million vaccine doses would be available by January 2021, with the first distributed in October of this year. By October, that had shifted to 100 million doses by the end of the year, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Currently, the plan is for 40 million doses to be distributed in December, though some in health care are skeptical of even that prediction…” (Goldhill, 12/11).
Additional coverage of the FDA advisory panel’s recommendation and speculation regarding the distribution of a new coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. is available from The Atlantic, Financial Times, The Hill, New York Times, NPR, POLITICO, Science, STAT, and Washington Post.
- News Outlets Examine COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts In India, China, Russia
AP: AP Interview: India vaccine maker sees virus as wake-up call
“The coronavirus pandemic is a ‘wake up call’ for governments to invest more in health care, says Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines. The Serum Institute has taken on a vital role as the largest company licensed to manufacture the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. It is increasing its production capacity by the end of 2021 to over 2.5 billion doses a year to cope with future disease outbreaks, Poonawalla said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press…” (Ghosal, 12/11).
Quartz: Who is using China’s Covid-19 vaccines?
“…Before Britain granted emergency-authorization to the Pfizer vaccine, a few countries had also used emergency approval to began offering China’s Covid-19 shots to health workers. Currently, four Covid-19 vaccines from three Chinese firms are at an advanced stage: Sinopharm has two vaccines in development; private U.S.-listed biotech firm Sinovac has developed a shot called CoronaVac; and CanSino Biologics also has a candidate…” (Lahiri, 12/10).
Washington Post: Russia expected a surge for its Sputnik V vaccine. But many skeptics still stayed away.
“…With Russia’s coronavirus cases rising sharply, authorities are banking on the country’s Sputnik V vaccine as the answer to the crisis — and opened the vaccine to the public even before it finishes Phase III trials. In the first group, health workers and teachers can start the two-dose treatment. But there seemed to be more vaccine skeptics than takers in the first week across Russia, struggling with the fourth-highest number of cases at more than 2.5 million…” (Dixon, 12/11).
- Australia Scraps Experimental Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate After Trial Participants Receive False Positive Results On Certain HIV Tests
Sydney Morning Herald: Australian COVID vaccine terminated due to HIV ‘false positives’
“A billion-dollar deal for the Morrison government to buy more than 50 million doses of the University of Queensland’s potential coronavirus vaccine has been abruptly terminated after several trial participants returned false positive HIV test results…” (Harris, 12/11).
Wall Street Journal: Covid-19 Vaccine Candidate Scrapped After False Positives on HIV Tests
“A Covid-19 vaccine candidate in Australia has been scrapped because recipients returned false positives on certain HIV tests, underscoring the difficulties scientists face in rapidly developing an inoculation for the coronavirus. The vaccine candidate, called v451, was being jointly developed by the University of Queensland and CSL Ltd., an Australia-based biopharma company that also runs blood-collection centers in the U.S. The Australian government had agreed to buy 51 million doses…” (Cherney, 12/10).
Additional coverage of the decision to scrap the vaccine is available from CNN, New York Times, and Reuters.
- Sanofi/GSK Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate Fails To Produce Sufficient Immune Response In Older People, Delaying Trials
Reuters: Sanofi and GSK delay COVID-19 vaccine, marking setback for global fight
“Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said clinical trials of their COVID-19 vaccine showed an insufficient immune response in older people, delaying its launch to late next year and marking a setback in the global fight against the pandemic. … The news, which came on the same day as Australia axed a domestic vaccine project, is also a blow for many governments that have booked hundreds of millions of doses of the shot, including the European Union, United States, and Britain. … The two companies said they planned to start another study next February, hoping to come up with a more effective vaccine by the end of 2021…” (Blamont et al., 12/11).
Additional coverage of the Sanofi/GSK vaccine candidate is available from Financial Times.
- ADB Launches $9B Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility To Help Member LMICs Access Coronavirus Vaccines
Devex: ADB launches $9B COVID-19 vaccine facility
“The Asian Development Bank launched a $9 billion vaccine facility on Friday. The announcement comes amid global interest and demand for COVID-19 vaccines, one of which has received regulatory approval from a few high-income countries. The Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility will help the bank’s low- and middle-income member countries in the procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines…” (Ravelo, 12/11).
- Media Outlets Report On State Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Vaccine Access In Africa
Bloomberg: Nigeria Plans to Approve Covid-19 Vaccine Early Next Year
“Nigeria expects to license by April one of the vaccines under development globally for Covid-19, the West African nation’s drugs regulator said. … Africa’s most-populous country also expects to benefit from the World Health Organization-backed Covax initiative, which is working to improve access to vaccines for 92 low- and medium-income countries, [National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control Director-General Mojisola] Adeyeye said…” (Clowes, 12/10).
Reuters: Africa disease control head calls on rich nations to share excess COVID-19 shots
“Countries that have ordered more COVID-19 vaccines than they need should consider distributing excess doses to Africa, the head of the continent’s disease control body said on Thursday. … As African countries begin to feel the effects of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said it was unlikely to secure enough vaccine shots. Many African states are relying on COVAX, a global COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is working to lower prices and discourage hoarding…” (Mohammed, 12/10).
Washington Post: The coronavirus is ravaging the world. But life looks almost normal in much of Africa
“…While testing has been comparatively limited, the continent appears to have bucked the doomsday predictions of global health experts. The telltale signs of severe outbreaks seen elsewhere — crowded hospitals and a spike in deaths — have emerged in only a handful of African countries. … But even as more research emerges, public health experts caution that the explanation for why Africa’s caseload has remained low will be complicated…” (Bearak/Paquette, 12/11).
Xinhua: WHO says community involvement key to seamless launch of COVID-19 vaccine in Africa
“African governments should embark on proactive engagement with local communities to boost uptake of COVID-19 vaccine once they are deployed in the continent, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Thursday. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said that involving communities at every stage of the vaccine’s roll-out will help dispel misinformation that could undermine inoculation of high-risk groups…” (12/11).
- Wealthy Nations' Support For Children Insufficient Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, UNICEF Report Says
U.N. News: Rich countries’ support for children ‘totally inadequate’: U.N. report
“The U.N. Children’s Fund, UNICEF, slams the levels of financial support for children allocated by high-income countries during the pandemic as totally inadequate, in a child poverty report issued on Friday. The report shows that of the $14.9 trillion spent on domestic financial recovery packages put together by wealthier countries between February and August, just two percent was allocated specifically to support children, and families raising children. This is despite evidence that child poverty is expected to remain above pre-COVID levels for at least five years in high-income countries…” (12/10).
- Trump Issues Executive Order To 'Rebrand' All U.S. Foreign Aid Across Agencies With Common Logo
AP: Trump signs order to ‘rebrand’ U.S. foreign assistance
“President Donald Trump has signed an order requiring that all U.S. foreign assistance be ‘rebranded’ to ensure that recipients know that American taxpayers have paid for it. Trump on Thursday directed the 22 federal agencies that distribute U.S. aid abroad to use a common logo on their packaging. Currently, different agencies — from the United States Agency for International Development to the Department of Agriculture — use different logos on items that range from sacks of grain to medical supplies, tents and water purification kits. That has created confusion in some countries, according to U.S. officials who say that aid from other nations, like China, is readily identifiable with standardized logos…” (Lee, 12/11).
The Hill: Trump signs executive order to brand foreign aid with common logo
“…The White House did not specify what Trump’s choice of logo would be. The executive order is among a string of actions Trump is taking in the waning days of his presidency…” (Chalfant/Kelly, 12/10).
- CDC Director Allegedly Ordered Staff To Delete Email From Trump Political Appointee, MMWR Editor Testifies To House Subcommittee
POLITICO: CDC’s Redfield told staff to delete email, official tells House watchdog
“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield instructed staff to delete an email from a Trump political appointee seeking control over the agency’s scientific reports on the pandemic, a senior CDC official told congressional investigators this week. Redfield’s apparent instruction was revealed in a Monday closed-door interview with the House subcommittee probing the White House’s coronavirus response, which includes the Trump administration’s interference at the federal public health agency. It came following an Aug. 8 email sent by Paul Alexander, who was then the scientific adviser to Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo, aiming to water down the CDC’s famed Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports to align with President Donald Trump’s efforts to downplay the virus.
Additional coverage of Redfield’s alleged order to delete an email is available from AP, CBS News, and Washington Post.
- Former USAID Administrator, U.K. International Development Secretary, Heads Of Global Fund, World Bank Speak About COVID-19, Global Health Security, Aid At Devex World Event
Devex: Global Fund chief on COVID-19 funding, global health security
“Global COVID-19 response efforts need a bolder response, health financing remains difficult, and the way global health security is defined needs to change, according to Peter Sands, the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, or ACT Accelerator, is still short of the funding it needs. What’s needed is the ‘kind of boldness of response’ that wealthy countries have shown in their domestic spending when it comes to accelerating the development of new tools and ensuring equitable access to them, Sands said in an interview at Devex World…” (Saldinger, 12/10).
Devex: World Bank hopes to help get vaccines to 1 billion people, Malpass says
“Providing fair and equitable access to vaccines will be key to managing the health and economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass told Devex in an interview at Devex World. Speaking about the efforts of the bank until now and plans for the months to come, Malpass said the focus will be to provide vaccines to people who don’t have any other way to get them…” (Byatnal, 12/10).
Devex: Mark Green: Next administration should address ‘fragmentation’ in foreign aid
“The U.S. Agency for International Development is the ‘only entity’ in the U.S. government that has the capability to lead on an international response to COVID-19, according to Mark Green, executive director at the McCain Institute for International Leadership and former administrator at USAID. ‘We can’t conquer this pandemic simply by focusing here at home. We’ll always be vulnerable. … USAID, with its fantastic field presence, is the only entity that I think can help get that job done,’ he told Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar at Devex World on Thursday…” (Igoe, 12/10).
Devex: Ditch the jargon to save development, says Rory Stewart
“Development professionals must ‘break out of jargon’ in order to ‘save this field,’ according to the former U.K. secretary of state for international development. In an interview for Devex World, Rory Stewart said excessive jargon makes it difficult to communicate with citizens about aid and to discuss the details of programming. ‘If we are to save this field we must break out of jargon and rhetoric and universal solutions and theories and focus on the quality of delivery on the ground,’ Stewart said in the interview with Raj Kumar, Devex’s president and editor-in-chief…” (Worley, 12/10).
- Argentina's Lower House Passes Bill To Legalize Abortion; Senate Debate Expected Before Year's End
AP: Argentina’s lower house approves bill legalizing abortion
“Lawmakers in Argentina’s lower house on Friday passed a bill that would legalize elective abortions to the 14th week of pregnancy, a proposal from President Alberto Fernández in response to long-sought demands from women’s rights activists in the homeland of Pope Francis. The bill still needs approval from the country’s Senate in a debate expected before the end of the year…” (Calatrava, 12/11).
Additional coverage of the bill is available from AP, Foreign Policy, New York Times, and Washington Post.
- More COVID-19 & Global Health News
AP: Ethiopia returns refugees who fled Tigray fighting, to alarm (Anna, 12/11).
AP: India’s pandemic recovery plan could cost air quality goals (Ghosal, 12/11).
Devex: U.S. election marks return to ‘climate responsibility,’ says Paris Agreement architect (Abrahams, 12/10).
Devex: Q&A: Investing now in preparation for COVID-19’s successor (12/11).
Forbes: A Tale Of Two Crises And The Solutions That Bind Them: Wild Polio And COVID-19 (Sheldrick, 12/10).
New Humanitarian: COVID-19 fuels growing conflict and displacement in Colombia (Collins, 12/10).
New York Times: Cases Surge in South Korea, but Covid Vaccine Is Months Away (Choe, 12/10).
New York Times: Airlines Gear Up to Transport Vaccines That Could Revive Travel (Chokshi, 12/10).
Reuters: South Korea mobilizes military in Seoul as coronavirus cases surge, deaths rise (Cha, 12/10).
Reuters: More women than men in U.S. nervous about fast rollout of COVID vaccine, and that’s a problem: Reuters/Ipsos poll (Kahn/Beasley, 12/11).
Scientific American: What Science Has Learned About the Coronavirus One Year On (DelViscio/Glaunsinger, 12/11).
U.N. News: $1.44 billion plan to respond to Venezuela refugee and migrant needs (12/10).
U.N. News: Illicit financial flows threaten security and stability in Africa: U.N. deputy chief (12/10).
U.N. News: WFP chief uses Nobel speech as call for action to avert ‘hunger pandemic’ (12/10).
Xinhua: Feature: Misusing mosquito nets threatens fight against malaria in Malawi (12/10).
Editorials and Opinions
- Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Global Health Topics, Including Climate Change; Sustainable Development; Migration; Food Insecurity; Girls', Women's Rights; Mental Health
Africa Report: Africa: Climate change and sustainable development must be a two-way street
Oluwaseun Oguntuase, scholar at the Centre for Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development at Lagos State University in Nigeria (12/10).
Devex: Opinion: Does Africa need a new narrative on migration?
Maureen Achieng, chief of mission of IOM to Ethiopia and representative to the African Union and to UNECA (12/9).
Devex: Opinion: Judge and juror — the U.N. system is failing the women who blow the whistle on sexual harassment
Claudia Ahumada, global human rights lawyer, gender expert and lead of partnerships at GENDRO, and Malayah Harper, global health and women’s rights expert, executive in residence at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, adviser for Fair Share of Women Leaders, founding board member and global champion for SheDecides, and incoming director of sexual and reproductive health and rights at EngenderHealth (12/3).
Devex: Opinion: Beyond COVID-19 — addressing food insecurity in Nigeria
Chioma Okafor, global health and development practitioner; Lara Aluko, policy and program analyst; and Ibitola Asaolu, epidemiologist (12/4).
Devex: Opinion: Why integrating mental health into UHC is key to ensuring human rights
Shekhar Saxena, visiting professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Elisha London, CEO and founder of United for Global Mental Health (12/10).
New York Times: ‘These Girls Are Being Cut and Married in Droves’
Stephanie Sinclair, founder and executive director of Too Young to Wed, and Jeremiah Kipainoi, videographer (12/10).
- Supply Chains Must Be Rethought To Ensure Resilience, Prevent Potential Disruptions, Opinion Piece Says
Project Syndicate: Supply Chains and Demand
Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations
“…The question of how best to increase supply-chain resilience is now front and center. Future outbreaks of infectious diseases could prove far more disruptive [on supply chains than COVID-19]. … The COVID-19 crisis has revealed that interconnectedness brings benefits as well as risks to us all. In order to address some of these risks, supply chains will need to be rethought, with more emphasis put on supplier diversification, domestic production, and stockpiling. The challenge will be to strike a necessary balance ensuring that a targeted and limited industrial policy does not become a cover for expensive policies that threaten trade and economic growth” (12/10).
From the Global Health Policy Community
- Blog Posts, Releases Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Inequities In Medical Oxygen Access; Call To Waive Intellectual Property Rules; Health Information Management
BMJ Opinion: Covid-19 has turned the spotlight on the uneven provision of oxygen — a stark health inequity
Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children U.K., and Adamu Isah, chief of party for the INSPIRING Project at Save the Children Nigeria (12/11).
Brookings Institution: The promise and peril of anti-pandemic technology
Heidi Tworek, assistant professor at the University of British Columbia and non-resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (12/10).
Global Citizen: ‘We Have Been Here Before’: South African Health Advocate Recalls HIV/AIDS Crisis Amid COVID-19
Jacky Habib, freelance journalist (12/10).
Human Rights Watch: Urgently Waive Intellectual Property Rules for Vaccine (12/10).
IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: COVID 19: Health workers from around the world call for recognition of, response to pandemic’s frontline toll
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of Science Speaks and editorial director at the Infectious Diseases Society of America (12/10).
WHO: Call for Action: Managing the Infodemic Manifesto (12/11).
World Economic Forum: This is how we can save millions of people from extreme poverty after COVID-19
Douglas Broom, senior writer for Formative Content (12/10).
- WHO Recognizes Universal Health Coverage Day 2020
WHO: Universal Health Coverage Day 2020
For Universal Health Coverage Day, recognized on Dec. 12, WHO states, “This year’s UHC Day theme reminds us of our most urgent priority: Health for All: Protect Everyone. To end this [COVID-19] crisis and build a safer and healthier future, we must invest in health systems that protect us all — now” (December 2020).
- World Bank, Partners Work To Address Yemen's WASH Needs
World Bank Blogs: Working together in the midst of an active conflict
Carmen Nonay, practice manager at the World Bank, discusses the World Bank’s and partners’ efforts to address Yemen’s water supply and sanitation needs and priorities (12/10).
From the U.S. Government
- Vice President Pence Discusses COVID-19 Vaccine, Upcoming Distribution During Roundtable
U.S. Department of State: Vice President Pence Leads a Vaccine Distribution Roundtable
During a roundtable discussion, Vice President Pence discusses progress on and the upcoming distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine (12/10).
- USAID Acting Deputy Administrator Issues Statement Recognizing International Human Rights Day
USAID: International Human Rights Day
In a statement recognizing International Human Rights Day, USAID Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa discusses USAID’s commitment to human rights, saying, “Promoting and protecting human rights is not only a moral imperative, but also a critical component of America’s national security, because they are essential to any nation’s self-reliance and citizen-responsive governance. … On International Human Rights Day, we take a moment to express our gratitude to those who serve them on the frontlines of the battle for basic human dignity. We continue to call for greater humanitarian access and an end to violence against aid workers and those who defend human rights” (12/10).
- KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic
KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of December 11, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (12/11).
Additional KFF COVID-19 resources on the global situation, as well as those focused on the response and impact within the U.S., are available here.