KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Expects Emergency Use Decisions On Coronavirus Vaccines In Coming Weeks, Calls For More Funding To Supply Vaccines To LMICs

Reuters: WHO expects decisions on Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca vaccines in weeks
“The World Health Organization expects to make decisions on whether to give emergency use approval to COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca in the coming weeks, its chief scientist said on Friday…” (Nebehay et al., 12/11).

Reuters: Any vaccine adverse effects up to national agencies to review — WHO
“Any adverse effects from COVID-19 vaccines are for national authorities to review, the World Health Organization said on Friday in response to questions about Britain warning people with a history of anaphylaxis to avoid the Pfizer-BioNTech shot…” (Nebehay/Farge, 12/11).

U.N. News: COVID-19 vaccines: Donors urged to step up funding for needy countries
“Addressing the financing gap to provide COVID-19 vaccines for everyone, everywhere, is an urgent priority, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday, in an appeal for stepped-up funding to support poorer countries. This week the United Kingdom began rollout of a vaccine developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech, and more nations are expected to follow suit very soon…” (12/11).

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FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech Coronavirus Vaccine, Paving Way For Distribution In U.S.; Biden Team Begins Messaging On Vaccine; Trump Rejects Plan For Early Vaccinations Of White House Staff

POLITICO: FDA authorizes first Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use
“The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for use in the United States, clearing the way for the biggest and most urgent immunization program in the nation’s history. The arrival of the nation’s first coronavirus shot comes amid a deepening outbreak, with the country repeatedly smashing records for new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in recent weeks. Nearly 295,000 Americans have died and 15.8 million have been infected…” (Morello, 12/11).

POLITICO: Biden starts countering Trump’s messaging on vaccine
“President-elect Joe Biden’s team is feverishly working to get a messaging plan in place to sell a skeptical public on the first FDA-backed coronavirus vaccine, believing the Trump administration has set the effort back significantly. Biden implied on Friday that he’s not going to wait until he takes office to start counteracting Trump’s mixed messaging on the vaccine, which includes downplaying the public health threat of the coronavirus while hailing the unprecedented speed at which a shot was developed…” (Roubein/Goldberg, 12/12).

Washington Post: FDA authorizes the first coronavirus vaccine, a rare moment of hope in the deadly pandemic
“…The historic authorization of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for people age 16 and older, just 336 days after the genetic blueprint of a novel coronavirus was shared online by Chinese scientists, sets in motion a highly choreographed and complex distribution process aimed at speeding vaccines throughout the United States to curb the pandemic…” (McGinley et al., 12/12).

AP: Trump says he’s nixing plan for early vaccine at White House (Miller, 12/14).

Bloomberg: Hospitals Await First Shipments of Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine (LaVito, 12/13).

The Hill: CDC director accepts advisory panel’s recommendation, clearing the way for vaccinations to begin (Budryk, 12/13).

POLITICO: Trump rejects plan for early vaccination at White House (Cohen, 12/14).

POLITICO: U.S. government buys another 100 million doses of Moderna vaccine (Owermohle, 12/11).

Reuters: First U.S. shots in COVID-19 vaccine campaign coming Monday, Army general says (Erman et al., 12/12).

STAT: FDA grants historic authorization to a Covid-19 vaccine, setting stage for rollout (Branswell/Florko, 12/11).

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Scientists Developed, Tested Coronavirus Vaccines At Unprecedented Speeds; More Nations Approve Vaccines, Release Vaccination Plans, Begin Distribution

The Atlantic: How Science Beat the Virus
“…Much like famous initiatives such as the Manhattan Project and the Apollo program, epidemics focus the energies of large groups of scientists. In the U.S., the influenza pandemic of 1918, the threat of malaria in the tropical battlegrounds of World War II, and the rise of polio in the postwar years all triggered large pivots. Recent epidemics of Ebola and Zika each prompted a temporary burst of funding and publications. But ‘nothing in history was even close to the level of pivoting that’s happening right now,’ Madhukar Pai of McGill University told me…” (Yong, 12/14).

CNN: Despite promises of solidarity on Covid-19, rich countries are snapping up the supply of promising vaccines
“…Tough months lie ahead, but the rollout of the first vaccine in record time and the likely imminent approvals of others, is a turning point for wealthy countries that can afford vaccines. But for public health officials in the developing world, it is a harsh reminder that the race to end this deadly pandemic will separate the world’s haves and the have-nots. The alleged Covid-19 vaccine hoarding and bitter experience of past inequalities leave many feeling cynical about global solidarity…” (McKenzie, 12/13).

PBS NewsHour: COVID-19 vaccines are being developed with unprecedented speed amid some setbacks
“With the U.S. about to approve emergency use for Pfizer’s vaccine, there have been some setbacks with others now being tested. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said on Friday the launch of their vaccine will be delayed, and AstraZeneca announced confusing results for its potential vaccine. William Brangham spoke with Matthew Herper, a senior writer for STAT News, to learn more…” (Brangham, 12/11).

AP: First COVID 19 vaccine shipments arrive in Canada (Gillies, 12/14).

AP: Singapore approves use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine (12/14).

AP: Bahrain approves Chinese COVID-19 vaccine for use (12/13).

AP: Brazil govt releases pandemic vaccination plan with holes (De Sousa, 12/12).

Financial Times: CureVac launches large-scale Covid vaccine trial (Miller, 12/14).

The Guardian: China’s Sinopharm Covid vaccine: how effective is it and where will it be rolled out? (Davidson, 12/14).

New York Times: A Vaccine Is on Its Way to Canada. Who Will Get It First? (Austen, 12/11).

VOA News: Mexico Approves Coronavirus Vaccine (12/12).

Wall Street Journal: Vaccines Are Coming but They Won’t End Covid-19 Anytime Soon (Solomon/Hinshaw, 12/13).

Wall Street Journal: Peru Halts Trial for Chinese Covid-19 Vaccine (Dube/Deng, 12/13).

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Maintaining COVID-19 Vaccine Cold Chain Presents Logistical Challenges, Experts Say

NPR: Transporting And Distributing Vaccines Will Be ‘Unprecedented’ Logistical Challenge
“…It’s a complex task that will involve not only shipping companies like FedEx and UPS, but also airlines better known for carrying people, not cargo. Dr. Kate O’Brien, director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, compares the monumental task ahead to climbing the world’s tallest mountain…” (Schaper, 12/12).

Vox: Why staying cold is so important to a Covid-19 vaccine
“…[T]he vaccine’s potential to provide immunity to the broader population is now threatened by a massive logistical hurdle in actually getting it to people safely: keeping the vaccine doses cold. Vaccines are fragile drugs that demand strict temperature controls lest they spoil. And they spoil a lot. According to the World Health Organization, about half of the vaccines distributed around the world go to waste, in large part because of a failure to properly control storage temperatures. That in turn undermines efforts to contain and eradicate disease…” (Irfan, 12/11).

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Global Solidarity, Cooperation Needed Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, U.N. SG Says In Nobel Peace Prize Forum Address

U.N. News: COVID-19 shows ‘urgent need’ for solidarity, U.N. chief tells Nobel forum
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for global solidarity and greater international cooperation, and must be turned into an opportunity for fundamental change, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a keynote address to the Nobel Peace Prize Forum on Friday. The event was held the day after the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) officially received the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its lifesaving work assisting millions of hungry people across the globe…” (12/11).

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U.N. Secretary General, WHO Regional Director for Africa Stress Commitment To UHC On International Day

U.N. News: World must invest in strong health systems that protect everyone — now and into the future
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed just how important it is for all countries to have strong health systems that provide the entire population with quality services when and where they need them, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has stressed. ‘For Universal Health Coverage Day, let us commit to ending this crisis and build a safer and healthier future by investing in health systems that protect us all — now.’ declared the U.N. chief … In his message on the Day, marked annually on 12 December, Mr. Guterres underscored that in 2020, the world had witnessed the tragedy that strikes when health facilities are overwhelmed by a new, highly infectious and often deadly disease…” (12/12).

Xinhua: WHO hails universal health coverage milestones in Africa amid pandemic
“Many African countries have demonstrated commitment to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) amid disruptions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Saturday during the Universal Health Coverage Day. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said that universal health coverage has gained policy and financing traction in the continent to help tackle a growing disease burden…” (12/12).

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Many Health Facilities Lack Sufficient Water, Sanitation Services, Putting Health Workers, Patients At Higher Risk Of Disease, U.N. Report Warns

U.N. News: Water, hygiene woes at health facilities putting lives at risk: U.N. report
“Lack of basic water and sanitation services at health facilities has put around 1.8 billion health workers and patients at higher risk of COVID-19 infection and other diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have said. In a new report, released on Monday, the two agencies also warned that an alarming number of health care facilities do not have access to effective hand hygiene and are unable to segregate waste safely…” (12/14).

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U.N. SG Urges Nations To Treat Climate Change As 'Emergency' As World Leaders Pledge New Goals At Virtual Gathering Recognizing 5th Anniversary Of Paris Climate Accord

AP: As leaders set fresh climate goals, Biden pledges U.S. support
“U.S. President-elect Joe Biden pledged Saturday to rejoin the Paris climate accord on the first day of his presidency, as world leaders staged a virtual gathering to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the international pact aimed at curbing global warming. Heads of state and government from over 70 countries took part in the event — hosted by Britain, France, Italy, Chile, and the United Nations — to announce greater efforts in cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming…” (Jordans/Schaeffer, 12/12).

Reuters: U.N. chief urges leaders of every country to declare ‘climate emergency’
“U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called on every country to declare a ‘climate emergency’ on Saturday, as world leaders marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord made mostly incremental pledges relative to the scale of the crisis. … Nevertheless, the dozens of leaders who spoke mostly offered tweaks to existing commitments or promises of bolder moves before crucial talks in Glasgow in late 2021, rather than breakthrough new policies to hasten the end of fossil fuels…” (Green/Abnett, 12/12).

Additional coverage of the virtual meeting is available from The Hill and POLITICO.

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President-Elect Biden Considering Samantha Power For USAID Administrator

Axios: Scoop: Biden weighs Sam Power for USAID
“Joe Biden is considering Samantha Power to head the United States Agency for International Development, which would place a high-profile figure atop foreign aid and coronavirus relief efforts, people familiar with the matter tell Axios. Why it matters: Installing Power — a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about genocide — would signal the Biden administration plans to revitalize foreign assistance and use it as an instrument of soft power and to achieve humanitarian goals…” (Nichols, 12/13).

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U.K. Foreign Aid Reduction Will Harm Children Worldwide, U.K. Pediatricians, Experts, Advocates Say

The Guardian: Children will die due to U.K. overseas aid cuts, pediatricians say
“Cutting the U.K.’s overseas aid budget will result in a significant number of children dying ‘with negative impacts lasting generations,’ the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has said. Joining a chorus of voices opposing the reduction of overseas aid funding from 0.7% to 0.5% of Britain’s gross national income, the RCPCH said the evidence was overwhelming that aid helped children’s health and any reduction would have far-reaching consequences…” (Siddique, 12/12).

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Time Running Out To Stave Off Famine In Yemen, Says WFP Spokesperson; Documentary Addresses Child Malnutrition In Country

PRI: Film shows how Yemen’s health workers struggle to save young victims of malnutrition
“Children on the verge of death from malnutrition in Yemen are being brought back to health and recovering their childhoods, thanks to nutrition clinics across the country. Dr. Aida Al-Sadeeq celebrates those success stories. For a decade, Sadeeq ran a program at Sadaqa Hospital in Aden that treated children with malnutrition. Sadeeq, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Aden, was filmed at work in her clinic for the new documentary, ‘Hunger Ward’…” (Snyder, 12/11).

U.N. News: Yemen: food insecurity a ‘ticking time-bomb,’ warn aid agencies
“U.N. humanitarians issued a fresh alert on Friday for war-torn Yemen, warning that time is running out to avoid famine in the country. Out of two million children who need treatment for acute malnutrition, 360,000 are at risk of dying if they do not receive medical care, the World Food Programme (WFP) said. ‘We are running out of time … approximately 16 million people cannot put food on their table. This is a disaster, this is a ticking time-bomb and the world needs to act now,’ WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri told journalists at a scheduled press conference in Geneva…” (12/11).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: Families marry off daughters to ease finances amid COVID-19 (Larson, 12/14).

AP: Eswatini leader dies of virus amid new wave in South Africa (Magome, 12/14).

AP: Italy surpasses U.K. for worst COVID-19 death toll in Europe (D’Emilio, 12/13).

AP: COVID-19 runs unchecked in Pakistan’s overcrowded prisons (Gannon, 12/13).

AP: North Korea accused of using virus to crack down on rights (Lederer, 12/11).

Bloomberg: First Covid Vaccines’ Triumph Raises Hope for Cancer Fight (Kresge/Langreth, 12/13).

Devex: $1.44B needed for 2021 Venezuela response (Welsh, 12/12).

Devex: FCDO’s chief economist reveals how aid cuts were decided (Worley, 12/12).

Devex: What killed the E.U.-A.U. meeting? (Chadwick/Chakamba, 12/12).

Devex: As Bangladesh moves Rohingya to Bhasan Char, U.N. and aid agencies face a dilemma (Ahasan, 12/11).

Devex: Q&A: Investing now in preparation for COVID-19’s successor (12/11).

The Guardian: The lost year: 12 months of coronavirus (Multiple authors, 12/14).

The Guardian: ‘Just unimaginable’: Latin America’s Covid crisis lurches from bad to worse (Phillips et al., 12/10).

The Hill: Bill Gates: Presidential transition ‘complicating’ rollout of COVID-19 vaccine (Bowden, 12/13).

Homeland Preparedness News: NIH funds target Zika vaccine development (Clark, 12/11).

The Lancet: Loyce Pace: equity, solidarity, and humility in global health (Prasad, 12/11).

New York Times: U.K. to Ease Rules on Blood Donations by Gay and Bisexual Men (Albeck-Ripka, 12/14).

STAT: The polio vaccine had Elvis. Can celebrities similarly spur acceptance of the Covid-19 vaccine? (St. Fleur, 12/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Vaccination Campaigns, Addressing Drug Resistance, Malaria

Bloomberg: The Vaccines That Could Use a Shot in the Arm
Clara Ferreira Marques, Bloomberg Opinion columnist (12/12).

Devex: Opinion: How investments in health can help defeat malaria and COVID-19
Kevin Murphy, president of ExxonMobil Foundation and manager of corporate citizenship and global community investments for Exxon Mobil Corporation (12/11)

The Hill: COVID-19 vaccines are worthless if people aren’t vaccinated
Andrew Peterson, assistant professor and Greenwall faculty scholar in George Mason University’s Department of Philosophy and Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, and colleagues (12/12).

Scientific American: Any Delay in Ending COVID Could Spur a Different Pandemic
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Ramanan Laxminarayan, board chair of the Global Antibiotic R&D Partnership (12/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Think Global Health Publishes Articles On Investing In Health, COVID-19 Immunity Gap, Role Of Global Solidarity In Ending Pandemic, Cardiovascular Disease

Think Global Health: COVID-19: An Investment in Our Economy
William A. Haseltine, chair and president of ACCESS Health International (12/10).

Think Global Health: Why Mass Vaccination in the West Could be Bad News for Chinese Leaders
Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, director of the Global Health Governance roundtable series at CFR, and professor at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations (12/10).

Think Global Health: Global Solidarity Can’t End With the COVID-19 Pandemic
Keith Klugman, director of the pneumonia program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (12/7).

Think Global Health: Don’t Wait for COVID-19 to End Before Addressing Cardiovascular Diseases
Gregory Roth, associate professor in the division of cardiology and adjunct associate professor of health metrics sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and colleagues (12/9).

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CFR Hosts Discussion With CDC Director Robert Redfield

Council on Foreign Relations: A Conversation With Robert Redfield
Robert R. Redfield, director of the CDC
Sheri L. Fink, correspondent with the New York Times and CFR member, hosts a conversation with CDC Director Robert Redfield, who discusses the CDC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic (12/10).

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Report Ranks European Countries' Progress Toward SDGs, Highlights Ongoing Challenges To Achieving Goals

U.N. Dispatch: This is How European Countries Rank in their Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals
Joanne Lu, freelance journalist, discusses findings from the recently released Europe Sustainable Development Goal Report, which ranks European countries’ progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Lu writes, “Even within a wealthy region like the European Union, it turns out that no country is on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and one of the goals in most need of improvement is No Hunger. … These challenges largely reflect the biggest challenges the E.U. faces as a whole: No Hunger, Climate Action, Life Below Water (SDG 14) and Life On Land (SDG 15). The report says that the E.U. performed especially poorly on No Hunger because of high and rising obesity rates, unsustainable diets, and unsustainable agricultural and farming practices…” (12/11).

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UNICEF Releases Technical Note On Children In Poor Households, Warns Child Poverty To Remain Constant, Appeals For $2.5B In Emergency Funding

UNICEF: Children in monetary poor households and COVID-19: Technical Note (December 2020).

UNICEF: Child poverty will remain above pre-COVID levels for at least five years in high-income countries — UNICEF (12/11).

UNICEF: UNICEF appeals for a record US$2.5 billion to respond to children’s humanitarian needs and the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East and North Africa (12/7).

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From the U.S. Government

Trump Administration, Through HHS, DoD, Purchases Additional 100M Doses Of Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

HHS: Trump Administration purchases additional 100 million doses of COVID-19 investigational vaccine from Moderna
“The Trump administration, through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD), will purchase an additional 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidate, called mRNA-1273, from Moderna. If authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use as outlined in agency guidance, doses of the vaccine will begin shipping immediately. … Under the agreement, Moderna will leverage its U.S.-based manufacturing capacity to fill, finish, and ship vials of mRNA-1273 as the bulk material is produced. The additional doses ordered … provide for continuous delivery through the end of June 2021…” (12/11).

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FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization To Pfizer For COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

HHS: Statement from HHS and DoD on FDA Emergency Use Authorization of a COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate
“[On Friday,] the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Pfizer for its COVID-19 vaccine, the first authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. Operation Warp Speed and private sector partners now begin distributing the first allocation of doses to sites designated by the public health jurisdictions and five federal agencies with which OWS and CDC have been working to plan distribution…” (12/11).

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From KFF

KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of December 14, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (12/14).

A KFF-curated recap of pandemic-related news from last week is available here. 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.

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