KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.K. Approves Pfizer-BioNTech Coronavirus Vaccine; Distribution Expected To Begin Next Week But Logistical Challenges Remain; Trump Administration Increases Pressure On FDA

CBS News: U.K. is 1st country to approve Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, with distribution to start next week
“Britain has become the first country in the West to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for public use. The U.K. Department of Health and Social Care confirmed in a statement to British news agencies that the vaccine developed jointly by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech would be distributed starting next week. Pfizer was the first of three major Western pharmaceutical companies to apply in both the U.S. and Europe for emergency use authorization…” (Reals, 12/2).

The Guardian: How does the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine work and who will get it?
“…The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, while exciting, brings logistical challenges. Among them, the vaccine must be stored and transported at about -70C. … Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said he expects 10m doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be available in 2020: the NHS has been told to prepare for the first doses to be given as early as next week. While the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) put care home residents and care home workers at the front of the queue for a Covid vaccine, it is likely that NHS staff will be the first group to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech jab…” (Davis, 12/2).

Washington Post: Britain first country to grant Pfizer coronavirus vaccine emergency authorization
“…Drug regulators in Britain have a global reputation for being tough but fast, and Wednesday’s decision is likely to intensify the focus on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has faced increasing pressure from the Trump administration to approve Pfizer’s vaccine. On Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows summoned Stephen Hahn, the head of the FDA, to ask why the agency was not moving faster…” (Booth/Adam, 12/2).

STAT: U.K. approves Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, putting pressure on FDA
“…The FDA normally conducts the most rigorous reviews of medical products in the world, re-analyzing the databases from clinical trials and conducting its own reviews of the safety and efficacy of products, as well as independent statistical reviews of their clinical trials. A key part of that process is scheduled for Dec. 10, for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and Dec. 17, for the Moderna vaccine. That is when an FDA advisory panel of outside experts is scheduled to go over the data in meticulous detail in a public meeting. These advisory panels are not necessary for an emergency use authorization, as opposed to a full approval, but it is extremely unlikely that the FDA would issue a decision without waiting for the meetings to occur…” (Herper, 12/2).

Additional coverage of the U.K.’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is available from CNBC, CNN, The Economist, Financial Times, NPR, POLITICO, Reuters, and Science.

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Under Pressure From Trump Administration To Approve COVID-19 Vaccine, FDA Director Says Agency Will Take Time To 'Get This Right'

AP: Pushed to rush, FDA head says feds will get vaccine ‘right’
“The head of the agency responsible for authorizing COVID-19 vaccines said Tuesday that it would take the time needed to ‘get this right,’ despite increasing pressure from President Donald Trump to speed up the process. ‘No one at FDA is sitting on his or her hands. Everyone is working really hard to look at these applications and get this done,’ Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, told ABC in an interview on Instagram Live. ‘But we absolutely have to do this the right way’…” (Lemire et al., 12/1).

POLITICO: Trump to FDA: Why is Europe beating us on vaccine?
“A president who preached ‘America First’ is demanding to know why the United States could end up third, or worse, in the global vaccine race. President Donald Trump and his deputies are privately admonishing Food and Drug Administration officials for not moving faster to authorize promising coronavirus vaccines — a push partially motivated by Trump’s desire to claim credit for record-fast vaccine development, four officials said…” (Diamond et al., 12/1).

STAT: White House to host Covid-19 vaccine summit, as Trump seeks to burnish record
“The Trump administration has invited leading vaccine manufacturers, drug distributors, and government officials to a ‘Covid-19 Vaccine Summit’ next week, just two days before a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee meeting to consider the first U.S. application for a Covid-19 vaccine. The meeting, set for Dec. 8, will feature President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and several governors and private-sector executives, according to an invitation obtained by STAT. Industry officials familiar with plans for the summit interpreted it as an opportunity for the White House to pressure the FDA to quickly issue emergency authorizations for the first two vaccines candidates to be reviewed — one developed by the partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech and the other developed by Moderna — as well as to ensure Trump receives credit for the breakneck pace of vaccine development to take place under his watch…” (Facher, 12/1).

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China Prepares To Distribute Coronavirus Vaccines In Global Diplomacy Campaign

CNN: China has promised millions of coronavirus vaccines to countries globally. And it is ready to deliver them
“…In the coming months, China will be sending hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines to countries that have conducted last-stage trials for its leading candidates. Chinese leaders have also promised a growing list of developing countries priority access to its successful vaccines. This global campaign presents China an opportunity to repair its image, which was damaged for its initial mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak — rather than being blamed for the primary spread of the virus it can potentially be esteemed for helping to bring an end to the pandemic. … China’s global vaccine campaign is in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s ‘America first’ approach, which focuses on vaccinating its own citizens before those elsewhere…” (Culver/Gan, 12/2).

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News Outlets Examine Details Of Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Results, Authorization Processes, Distribution

The Atlantic: The Long Haul of Vaccine Results Is Just Beginning (Zhang, 12/1).

Roll Call: What we know now about COVID-19 vaccine authorization and distribution (Kopp/McKinless, 12/1).

STAT: The Covid-19 vaccines are a marvel of science. Here’s how we can make the best use of them (Branswell, 12/2).

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North Korean Hackers Target At Least 6 Companies Working On COVID-19 Treatments, Vaccines

Wall Street Journal: North Korean Hackers Are Said to Have Targeted Companies Working on Covid-19 Vaccines
“North Korean hackers have targeted at least six pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., the U.K., and South Korea working on Covid-19 treatments [and vaccines], according to people familiar with the matter, as the regime seeks sensitive information it could sell or weaponize. … It wasn’t known whether the hackers succeeded in swiping useful information. But North Korea has coordinated attacks on the six companies since August, the people said…” (Jeong, 12/2).

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CDC Advisory Panel Recommends Providing Newly Approved Coronavirus Vaccines To Health Workers, Long-Term Care Patients First; Children Must Wait Longer For More Study Results

Wall Street Journal: CDC Panel Recommends Giving First Covid-19 Vaccines to Health Workers, Nursing Homes
“A federal vaccine advisory panel recommended that health-care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be the first to receive any Covid-19 vaccine doses from the limited supply that will be available initially. The panel, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, voted 13-1 on Tuesday in favor of giving the first vaccines to about 21 million health-care workers and three million residents of long-term care facilities. … The CDC usually follows the recommendation of its advisory panel, and if they are accepted by the agency’s director and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, they will become official CDC policy. A CDC spokeswoman said CDC Director Robert Redfield will likely make the decision on Wednesday…” (Loftus et al., 12/1).

Washington Post: When will children get a coronavirus vaccine? Not in time for the new school year, experts fear.
“As the United States eagerly awaits the availability of a safe, effective vaccine for the coronavirus that has plagued the nation for months, a significant group, making up more than one-fifth of the population, will need to wait longer for immunization: children. On Sunday, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, acknowledged it is going to take time, perhaps even months, before those younger than 18 can get a coronavirus vaccine, as trials to test the vaccine candidates’ immunogenicity are either underway or have yet to begin…” (Kornfield, 12/1).

Additional coverage of the CNN advisory panel’s recommendations is available from CNBC, Financial Times, The Guardian, NBC News, New York Times, Science, STAT, and Washington Post.

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CDC Expected To Shorten Recommended Quarantine Time For People Exposed To Someone Positive For COVID-19

AP: CDC to shorten COVID-19 quarantine to 10 days, 7 with test
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic…” (Miller, 12/2).

Additional coverage of the expected guidance on shorter quarantine periods is available from The Hill, POLITICO, and Wall Street Journal.

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USAID Creates Strategic Foresight Unit, Takes Steps To Prepare For Future Crises

Devex: USAID turns to scenario planning to prepare for future global crises
“Even as the coronavirus pandemic still rages, the U.S. Agency for International Development is taking steps to better prepare it for other unpredictable and highly disruptive events in the future. That effort has involved an ‘unprecedented’ scenario planning exercise involving 75 USAID development experts, as well as the creation of a strategic foresight unit, which will try to ensure that future forecasting is included in the agency’s own policies and its contributions to government-wide strategic planning, according to Joshua Kaufman, director of the office of policy in USAID’s Policy, Planning and Learning Bureau…” (Igoe, 12/2).

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Foreign Policy Examines Return Of Controversial Trump USAID Appointee Accused Of Mismanagement

Foreign Policy: Controversial Trump USAID Appointee Returns from Absence
“A controversial political appointee of outgoing President Donald Trump who has sought to remake important programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development is set to return to the agency following a two-month absence, after he had been accused of mismanagement and hostility toward employees, according to U.S. and NGO officials. The return of Pete Marocco, who took leave after USAID officials documented complaints with the Trump loyalist in a 13-page memo first obtained by POLITICO, comes after concerns about his slash-and-burn tactics toward aid programs raised alarm throughout Washington. Marocco had sought to scale back funding for the Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Stabilization, known as CPS, which he leads…” (Detsch/Lynch, 12/1).

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On World AIDS Day, Media Outlets Examine Efforts To Improve HIV Treatment, Prevention Access; Progress Toward Meeting Transmission Targets; U.S. Responses To AIDS, COVID-19

Thomson Reuters Foundation: ‘A shot can end the stigma’: African women pin hopes on anti-HIV jab
“…A new injectable HIV prevention drug, called cabotegravir, that is taken every two months has proved nine times more effective in preventing HIV than the commonly used Truvada PrEP daily tablets, a study found last month. HIV/AIDS experts have described the results as ground-breaking, especially for Africa — where new infections disproportionately affect women — and more options to prevent HIV are urgently needed. Not only will the new drug give women and girls across the region a more acceptable option, new transmissions will fall sharply, they said…” (Bhalla, 12/1).

TIME: On World AIDS Day, Those Who Fought the 1980s Epidemic Find Striking Differences and Tragic Parallels in COVID-19
“More than three decades after the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the first World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, 1988, the world’s leading global health organization faces another public health crisis in COVID-19. On this World AIDS Day, those who raised awareness of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, find devastating similarities and haunting differences in America’s response to both crises…” (Waxman, 12/1).

VOA News: Affordable Treatment Available Soon for Children Living With HIV in Poor Countries
“Affordable treatment will soon be available for children living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries thanks to an agreement between the global health agency UNITAID and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, or CHAI. … UNITAID and CHAI plan to roll out the first antiretroviral treatments specifically designed for children next year in six African countries — Benin, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe…” (Schlein, 12/1).

VOA News: World ‘Way Off’ Targets of Getting Control of HIV Transmission
“Four years ago, governments around the world committed to achieving targets in testing and treating the vast majority of people with HIV to the point where the AIDS pandemic would end. … Under Dr. Demetre Daskalakis’ direction, the goal by the United Nations in 2016 was achieved in New York City, but Dr. Chris Beyrer, an AIDS researcher at Johns Hopkins University, says it is way off track elsewhere. Beyrer spoke to VOA recently…” (Pearson, 12/1).

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Global Malaria Progress Plateaus, WHO Says; India, North Korea Report Declines In Cases

CIDRAP News: WHO says malaria control has hit a plateau
“Despite great strides to eliminate malaria over the past two decades, control of the disease in recent years has plateaued, writes the World Health Organization (WHO) in ‘World Malaria Report 2020: 20 years of global progress and challenges.’ The 299-page report, released [Monday], includes public health milestones, global trends, and coverage of the mosquito-borne disease’s preventive measures, diagnosis, and treatments. It also affirms the importance of country ownership of control efforts, improved surveillance, consistent access to health services and workforce members, and technology innovation…” (McLemon, 12/1).

Al Jazeera: India makes ‘impressive gains’ in fight  against malaria: WHO
“India has made ’impressive gains’ in its fight against malaria, as the number of cases and deaths caused by the mosquito-borne disease has seen a marked drop in the country, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The number of malaria cases in India has dropped from nearly 20 million in 2000 to just 5.6 million in 2019, the WHO said in its latest World Malaria Report on Monday…” (Kuchay, 12/1).

UPI: WHO: North Korea malaria cases trending downward
“Malaria is steadily declining in North Korea but more than 1 million North Koreans remain susceptible to the infectious disease, the World Health Organization said in a new report. The WHO’s 2020 edition of the World Malaria Report released Monday shows North Korea’s malaria cases continue to decline, with 1,869 cases recorded in 2019, Radio Free Asia’s Korean service reported…” (Shim, 12/1).

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U.N., Ethiopia Sign Agreement To Allow Humanitarian Access To Tigray As Crisis Deepens, Food Runs Out For Eritrean Refugees In Region

AP: U.N., Ethiopia sign deal for aid access to embattled Tigray
“In a breakthrough a month after deadly conflict cut off Ethiopia’s Tigray region from the world, the United Nations on Wednesday said it and the Ethiopian government have signed a deal to allow ‘unimpeded’ humanitarian access, at least for areas under federal government control after the prime minister’s declaration of victory over the weekend. This will allow the first food, medicines, and other aid into the region of 6 million people that has seen rising hunger during the fighting between the federal and Tigray regional governments. Each regards the other as illegal in a power struggle that has been months in the making…” (Anna, 12/2).

AP: U.N.: Food has run out for nearly 100,000 refugees in Ethiopia
“The United Nations says food has now run out for the nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea who have been sheltering in camps in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, which has been cut off from the world for nearly a month amid fighting…” (Anna, 12/1).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: Rage and hope fuel women’s revolt over abortion in Poland (Gera, 12/2).

Devex: World Bank updates procurement policy to enforce gender-based violence rules (Saldinger, 12/1).

IPS: COVID-19 an Opportunity to Build Resilience around Food Systems (Phakathi, 12/1).

Nature: Meet the scientists investigating the origins of the COVID pandemic (Mallapaty, 12/2).

U.N. News: COVID-19 can spark new generation of social protection measures: U.N. chief (12/1).

U.N. News: Global agreement on migration ‘taking root’ despite pandemic challenge: Guterres (12/1).

U.N. News: Mali: COVID-19 and conflict lead to rise in child trafficking (12/1).

U.N. News: U.N. humanitarian office puts Yemen war dead at 233,000, mostly from ‘indirect causes’ (12/1).

U.N. News: World must not accept slavery in 21st century: Guterres (12/2).

UPI: Analysis: Maternal, newborn deaths could decrease by 60% with more midwife care (Dunleavy, 12/1).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Role Of Public Health Community In Addressing Pandemic; Vaccine Nationalism, Access; Sweden's Response

Devex: Opinion: COVID-19 and the neo-public health movement — bringing back the public
Kent Buse, director of the Healthier Societies Program at the George Institute for Global Health, and Wafa Aftab, physician and health policy and governance researcher at the Aga Khan University in Pakistan (12/1).

Foreign Affairs: In Pandemic Times, America Is No Exception
Jonathan Cohen, director of the public health program at the Open Society Foundations (12/1).

Project Syndicate: Could Vaccine Nationalism Prolong the Pandemic?
Tom Bollyky, director of the global health program at the Council on Foreign Relations, founder and managing editor of Think Global Health, and author; and Elmira Bayrasli, co-founder and CEO of Foreign Policy Interrupted and author (12/1).

Project Syndicate: Designing Vaccines for People, Not Profits
Mariana Mazzucato, professor of the economics of innovation and public value at University College London and founding director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, chair of the WHO’s Council on the Economics of Health for All, and author; Henry Lishi Li, research fellow in health innovation at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose; and Els Torreele, visiting policy fellow at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (12/1).

Washington Post: Sweden’s anti-lockdown experiment flopped. Now it faces a wave of pandemic pain
Editorial Board (12/1).

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Unified Global Effort Critical To Achieving Sustainable Development, Opinion Piece Says

Project Syndicate: Mission Sustainable Development
Jeffrey D. Sachs, professor of sustainable development and professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, director of Columbia’s Center for Sustainable Development and the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and author

“…Our generation’s moonshot is sustainable development on Earth. … The coming year can … mark a breakthrough for the planet, a positive coda to the deaths and despair of 2020. With intensified public health policies around the world modeled on the successes of the Asia-Pacific countries, and with the introduction of vaccines, the [COVID-19] pandemic can be brought under control, thereby opening the way for a fresh global start on sustainable development. There will be three major U.N. gatherings in 2021 — on biodiversity conservation (in Kunming, China in May), food systems (at U.N. headquarters in September), and on climate (in Glasgow in November). All are opportunities to launch our generation’s bold mission for sustainable development. To seize them, governments, academia, and businesses worldwide should work together intensively in the coming months to chart out the pathways to the future we want and need so much” (12/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Journal Article Address Topics Related To COVID-19, Including Myanmar's Response Efforts, U.S. Foreign Aid Policies Under 'America First', Role Of Multisectoral Efforts, Health Systems In Addressing Pandemics

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: Myanmar’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Ashwini Deshpande, associate in research at the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health at Duke University, and colleagues (12/1).

International Policy Digest: COVID-19: To Fight the Fire, Share the Hose
Alex Kunze, master’s candidate at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs (12/1).

The Lancet: Fragmented health systems in COVID-19: rectifying the misalignment between global health security and universal health coverage
Arush Lal, MPhil/PhD candidate in health policy at the London School of Economics & Political Science, and colleagues (12/1).

Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Reducing the Risk of Pandemic Disease Threats Through Multisectoral Action
Dara Carr, director for health at Palladium (11/24).

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Blog Posts, Releases Recognize World AIDS Day, Discuss Lessons Learned; Role Of Health Workers In Central America; Community Engagement In South Africa; Impacts Of COVID-19 Pandemic

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: World AIDS Day reminds us that the toll of the world’s longest pandemic continues throughout the year
Antigone Barton, writer and editor of Science Speaks and editorial director of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (12/1).

IntraHealth International’s “VITAL”: In Central America, Health Workers Keep HIV Services Available despite Dual Disasters
Claudia Guzmán, graphic design and communications expert at IntraHealth International’s HIV Care and Treatment Project (12/1).

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders: Community engagement and affordable medicines have been key to saving lives in Khayelitsha and beyond, though the fight is not over yet (12/1).

UNAIDS: In South Africa, young women leading HIV and violence prevention say men’s involvement is key (12/1).

Unitaid: Unitaid reaffirms its commitment to the fight against HIV in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (12/1).

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From the U.S. Government

President-Elect Biden Releases Statement On World AIDS Day, Calls For Expanded Support For PEPFAR, Global Fund

Biden-Harris Transition: Statement from President-elect Joe Biden on World AIDS Day
“…COVID-19 is a reminder that we cannot let up in our efforts to fight other epidemics, so many of which — including HIV/AIDS — have been exacerbated by this pandemic. We will pursue bold solutions and increase our collaboration with affected communities around the globe. We will redouble our efforts to tackle health inequities that impact communities of color, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups, including women and children. We will work with activists and advocates to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, human rights, and listen to scientists, nurses, and other public health experts who have saved countless lives. We will reinstate the Office of National AIDS Policy, release a new comprehensive National Strategy on HIV/AIDS, and expand support for bipartisan programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Together, we will change the tide of rising infections, expand treatment, and support health security around the world…” (12/1).

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HHS, NIH, USAID Provide Statements On World AIDS Day 2020

HHS: Secretary Azar Statement on World AIDS Day (12/1).

NIH: NIH Statement on World AIDS Day 2020 (12/1).

USAID: USAID Commemorates World AIDS Day 2020: Statement by Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa (12/1).

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CDC Around The World Newsletter Highlights World AIDS Day

CDC’s “Around the World”: World AIDS Day
The latest issue of CDC’s “Around the World” newsletter highlights World AIDS Day, which takes place annually on December 1, and includes articles on CDC’s efforts to address HIV/AIDS globally (12/1).

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From KFF

KFF Updates U.S. Global Health Budget Tracker Interactive

KFF: U.S. Global Health Budget Tracker
This newly updated tracker provides regularly updated information on U.S. government funding for global health. The interactive includes historical trends and tracks funding levels throughout the appropriations process. Data can be customized by fiscal year, sector, and U.S. agency (12/1).

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KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of December 2, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (12/2).

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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