KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. General Assembly To Hold Special Session On COVID-19 Today; U.S. Officials Say Meeting Provides Stage For Chinese 'Propaganda'

AP: Nearly 100 world leaders to speak at U.N. session on COVID-19
“Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen ministers are slated to speak at the U.N. General Assembly’s special session starting Thursday on the response to COVID-19 and the best path to recovery from the pandemic which has claimed 1.5 million lives, shattered economies, and left tens of millions of people unemployed in countries rich and poor…” (Lederer, 12/3).

Reuters: U.S. says U.N. COVID-19 meeting is stage for Chinese ‘propaganda’
“The United States on Wednesday claimed a United Nations meeting of world leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic was being designed to allow Beijing to spread ‘propaganda,’ stoking months of bickering at the world body between the superpowers. … A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the special session of the 193-member General Assembly should have been held earlier, that it had been ‘pre-engineered to serve China’s purposes’ and complained that questions at panel discussions on Friday would be restricted. … A spokesperson for China’s mission to the United Nations in New York said the U.S. ‘politicization of the issue is not in the interest of the international community’…” (Shalal et al., 12/2).

Additional coverage of the special session is available from Axios and Xinhua.

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COVID-19 Pandemic Could Push Additional 207M People Into Poverty Over Next 10 Years, U.N. Analysis Shows

Miami Herald: COVID-19 could lead to over 1 billion in extreme poverty by 2030, new U.N. study finds
“The global coronavirus pandemic could push the number of people living in extreme poverty to more than a billion by 2030, a new United Nations study released Thursday says. With new infections and the socioeconomic effects of the virus accelerating, an additional 207 million people could find themselves in extreme poverty over the next 10 years in a worst-case scenario of COVID-19’s long-term effect. The study by the United Nations Development Program was done in conjunction with the Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver. It maps out three scenarios, all of which have tens of millions of people pushed further into poverty as a result of the pandemic that has resulted in lockdowns, end of employment, and economic hardship worldwide…” (Charles, 12/3).

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U.K.'s Emergency Authorization Of Coronavirus Vaccine Elicits Skepticism From Nations Taking Slower Approach; Russia Begins Widespread Distribution Of Its Vaccine; Media Covers Other Vaccine-Related News

POLITICO: U.K.’s speedy coronavirus vaccine approval sparks hope (and questions)
“The world is watching the U.K. — and this time not for the Brexit drama. Excited webinars, press conferences, and briefings Wednesday offered a first glimpse of what is likely to become the next big challenge for countries all over the world: delivering whole population immunization against coronavirus. Leapfrogging the U.S. — and weeks ahead of a similar decision for the rest of Europe — among the first concerns is whether the U.K. has taken a shortcut in green lighting the Pfizer/BioNTech jab…” (Collis/Furlong, 12/2).

Washington Post: U.K. coronavirus vaccine authorization prompts grumbling by countries taking slower approach
“Britain’s decision to grant emergency authorization to the Pfizer vaccine for the coronavirus was met with a skeptical reaction in much of Europe on Wednesday. Some foreign officials complained about a sense of British patriotism and accomplishment over a product by two non-British companies. European Union lawmakers cautioned against a ‘hasty’ rollout. Despite concerns that the U.K. emergency authorization could put pressure on regulators in the United States and Europe to speed up their own approval processes, there were no immediate signs of that on Wednesday. The European Union’s drug regulator offered cautious criticism of the British move, saying its own process was the ‘most appropriate regulatory mechanism for use in the current pandemic emergency.’ British supporters of the speedy authorization disagreed, pointing to the U.K. regulator’s reputation as a quick but rigorous institution…” (Noack et al., 12/2).

AP: Turkey announces vaccination plan for Chinese CoronaVac (Bilginsoy, 12/3).

The Atlantic: Britain’s Vaccine Nationalism (McTague, 12/3).

CNN Philippines: ‘Vaccine hesitancy’ must be addressed ‘to protect the world,’ UNICEF says (Said, 12/3).

Financial Times: Frozen Covid vaccines can reach developing nations, says DHL (Miller, 12/3).

Financial Times: U.K. vaccine approval triggers flurry of responses from other countries Premium (12/2).

Financial Times: Health chiefs rule out private sector jumping vaccine queue (Cookson et al., 12/2).

The Hill: U.S. aims to distribute vaccines to 100 million by end of February (Weixel, 12/2).

The Hill: Putin says doctors and teachers will get first COVID-19 vaccines in new immunization campaign (Choi, 12/2).

New York Times: Moderna Plans to Begin Testing Its Coronavirus Vaccine in Children (Grady, 12/2).

NPR: Putin Tells Russia To Begin Large-Scale Vaccination For Coronavirus (Kim, 12/2).

Reuters: Russia says more than 100,000 people already vaccinated against COVID-19 (12/2).

Washington Post: The beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic (Taylor, 12/3).

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Approval Of 1st Coronavirus Vaccine Encouraging But Challenges Remain In Distribution, WHO Says; Agency Reviewing Pfizer Vaccine, Refines Guidance On Masks

CNBC: WHO says Covid vaccine approval is like arriving at base camp: ‘We still have to climb the mountain’
“Approving a coronavirus vaccine is only the first step toward suppressing the pandemic, as countries race to build distribution networks to deliver the doses to their populations, World Health Organization officials said on Wednesday. … But developing and approving a vaccine is like arriving at base camp on Mount Everest, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a livestreamed Q&A session from the agency’s Geneva headquarters. ‘We still have to climb the mountain,’ he said. ‘It’s a great achievement, but we still have to get there’…” (Higgins-Dunn, 12/2).

Reuters: Vaccines won’t prevent short-term coronavirus surge — WHO (Revill, 12/2).

Reuters: WHO reviewing Pfizer vaccine for possible emergency listing — statement (Nebehay, 12/2).

Reuters: WHO fine-tunes advice on COVID masks for public, health workers (Nebehay, 12/2).

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Interpol, IBM Security Experts Issue Warnings Of Criminal Efforts Targeting Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution

AP: Phishing ploy targets COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort
“IBM security researchers say they have detected a cyberespionage effort using targeted phishing emails to try to collect vital information on the World Health Organization’s initiative for distributing COVID-19 vaccine to developing countries. The researchers said they could not be sure who was behind the campaign, which began in September, or if it was successful. But the precision targeting and careful efforts to leave no tracks bore ‘the potential hallmarks of nation-state tradecraft,’ they said in a blog post Thursday…” (Bajak, 12/3).

The Hill: Interpol warning of fake, stolen vaccines
“Interpol issued a global warning Wednesday alerting its members that organized crime networks could try to sell counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines or attempt to steal real shots as the world ramps up efforts to distribute an immunization. The global police coordination agency sent out an orange alert to police in 194 countries urging them to prepare for the threat, saying the pandemic has already ‘triggered unprecedented opportunistic and predatory criminal behavior’…” (Axelrod, 12/2).

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AP Investigation Examines Coronavirus Test Shortages, Flaws In China Associated With Deals Made By Country's Officials

AP: China testing blunders stemmed from secret deals with firms
“Secrecy and cronyism at China’s top disease control agency led to widespread test shortages and flaws that hampered the early response to the coronavirus outbreak, an Associated Press investigation has found. China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention gave test kit designs and distribution rights exclusively to three then-obscure Shanghai companies with which officials had personal ties, according to the investigation. It was based on interviews with more than 40 doctors, CDC employees, health experts, and industry insiders, as well as hundreds of internal documents, contracts, messages, and emails…” (Kang, 12/3).

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President-Elect Biden Prepares To Announce Health Care Team, COVID-19 Response Lead

AP: Next for Biden: Naming a health care team as pandemic rages
“Up soon for President-elect Joe Biden: naming his top health care officials as the coronavirus pandemic rages. It’s hard to imagine more consequential picks. … Alongside his health secretary, Biden is expected to name a top-level White House adviser to coordinate the government’s extensive coronavirus response. … Keeping the focus on the virus, Biden is also said to be close to nominating a commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration and a director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” (Alonso-Zaldivar, 12/3).

Washington Post: Biden transition advisers emerge as top contenders to run covid-19 response
“As President-elect Joe Biden makes fighting the raging coronavirus his most urgent mission when he takes office next month, two figures already playing central roles in his transition are emerging as the most likely officials to preside over the new White House’s pandemic response. One contender for Biden’s coronavirus coordinator, envisioned as a powerful role in setting the agenda and orchestrating the work of federal agencies, is Jeff Zients, a co-chairman of the Biden transition team who led the Obama administration’s National Economic Council. Another is Vivek H. Murthy, a co-chair of the transition’s covid-19 advisory board and a former U.S. surgeon general. … [H]aving announced his national security team last week and his economic team Tuesday, pressure is intensifying to reveal his health-care leadership, and several individuals said decisions could be announced as early as next week…” (Goldstein/Olorunnipa, 12/2).

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GAO Calls For Increased Federal Effort To Shore Up Pandemic Response, Supply Chains As U.S. Records Highest 1-Day COVID-19 Death Toll

The Hill: U.S. reports 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in one day, surpassing previous record by 20 percent
“The U.S. saw its highest single-day coronavirus death toll to date on Wednesday with 3,157. The number was 20 percent higher than the previous single-day high of 2,603 on April 15, and brings the total U.S. death toll to 273,799, according to data from Johns Hopkins University…” (Budryk, 12/3).

MedPage Today: GAO Calls for Urgent Federal Action on Pandemic
“The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report Monday calling for swift action by the federal government to shore up its response to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly with regard to taking a bigger role in medical supply chains. ‘[A]s the end of 2020 approaches, urgent actions are needed to help ensure an effective federal response on a range of public health and economic issues,’ it stated…” (Phend, 12/1).

USA TODAY: How a third wave of COVID-19 engulfed the US
“America faces outbreaks of coronavirus in most communities as waves of disease strike places blasted by earlier surges and those previously spared. … Forty-five states reported more cases during one week in November than in any other week since the start of the pandemic, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University coronavirus data shows. Only Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, New York, and South Carolina had worse peaks in prior months…” (Haseman/Stucka, 12/2).

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2 New Reports Show Connections Between Environment, Human Health; U.N. SG Urges Global Action, Finance Reform To Address Climate Change

Devex: Climate finance reform needed to prevent ‘suicidal’ chaos, Guterres says
“United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for an overhaul of the climate finance system Wednesday, warning that all financial flows must align with the Paris climate agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals in a ‘race against time to adapt to a rapidly changing climate’…” (Lieberman, 12/3).

NPR: ‘We Don’t Have To Live This Way’: Doctors Call For Climate Action
“Climate change is making people sick and leading to premature death, according to a pair of influential reports on the connections between global warming and health. Scientists from the World Meteorological Organization released a preliminary report on the global climate which shows that the last decade was the warmest on record and that millions of people were affected by wildfires, floods, and extreme heat this year on top of the global pandemic. Separately, a sprawling analysis published Wednesday by the medical research journal The Lancet focuses on public health data from 2019, and finds that heat waves, air pollution, and extreme weather increasingly damage human health. … Both reports make an explicit connection between death, disease, and burning fossil fuels…” (Hersher, 12/2).

Reuters: Feeling the heat? Scientists warn of climate shocks to global health
“Heat-related deaths are surging around the world, particularly among older people, scientists said on Thursday, warning of growing pressure on health systems hit hard by COVID-19. Almost 300,000 people over the age of 65 died from extreme heat in 2018 — a 54% rise in two decades, said a report on the links between health and climate in The Lancet medical journal…” (Rowling, 12/2).

Additional coverage of the reports and Guterres’s comments is available from The Nation, New York Times, and VOA News.

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

Al Jazeera: Coronavirus or malaria, tuberculosis and HIV? (12/2).

Borgen Magazine: Exploring Women’s Health in the DRC (Mendez, 12/3).

Borgen Magazine: Save The Children Encourages Breastfeeding In The Philippines (Gabra, 12/2).

CNN: Elton John honors Anthony Fauci on World AIDS Day (Hansler, 12/1).

Devex: Is the new ‘Gavi for toilets’ up to the challenge? (Root, 12/3).

Devex: The Gates Foundation leans into disease modeling (Cheney, 12/3).

Financial Times: FT Health: National systems must learn lessons from pandemic (Jack/Dodd, 12/2).

The Guardian: Covid could derail efforts to eradicate malaria in Pacific, health experts warn (Doherty, 12/2).

IPS: How to Reap the Benefits of Food as Medicine (Bafana, 12/3).

Nature: Inside China’s response to COVID (Murphy, 12/2).

U.N. News: U.N. commission reclassifies cannabis, no longer considered risky narcotic (12/2).

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Editorials and Opinions

Podcast, Opinion Piece, Letter To Editor Address COVID-19 Pandemic, Including R&D; Conflicts Of Interest; Need For U.S. Investment In LMIC Vaccine Access

New York Times: They Made the ‘Pfizer Vaccine’
Kara Swisher, host of Sway podcast, with Dr. Ozlem Tureci and Dr. Ugur Sahin, co-founders of BioNTech (12/3).

Scientific American: Conflicts of Interest and COVID
Sunita Sah, assistant professor of management and organizations and John and Norma Balen Sesquicentennial fellow at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University (12/3).

Washington Post: Letters to the Editor: America isn’t safe until poor countries have vaccines, too
Chris Collins, president and chief executive officer of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria (12/2).

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U.K. Cuts To Foreign Aid Budget Threaten Global Ability To Prevent Future Pandemics, Opinion Piece Says

The Guardian: Cutting U.K. overseas aid could harm the fight against future pandemics
Matthew Baylis, director of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) HORN project and professor of veterinary epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, and Fiona Tomley, director of the GCRF One Health poultry hub, professor of experimental parasitology at the Royal Veterinary College in London, and member of the U.K. Vaccine Network

“…[The COVID-19] virus is a startling indication of how the health of the world’s human population is inseparable from animals and the environment that we share with them. Treating health in a way that recognizes these interdependencies is called the One Health approach. Rather than studying human health in isolation, this approach considers how the health of people, animals, and the environment are intimately related. … But at a time when this international approach is needed more than ever to protect us from future pandemics, it’s coming under threat from the government’s proposal to slash its aid budget by a third, from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI. … We’ve already experienced numerous recent disease outbreaks that originated in animals, from SARS to H5N1/H1N1 influenza, MERS, Ebola, Zika, and now Covid-19. We can be confident that many more will follow. Alongside these sporadic emergencies, which rightly receive huge media attention, the world faces a more insidious and arguably even greater danger from the ongoing march of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR). … The U.K.’s track record in funding international One Health projects, including vaccinology for human and animal diseases, has put it in a strong position to help end the current pandemic and prevent the next one from emerging. But the government’s decision to reduce its commitment to U.K. aid … threatens to deplete future funding that makes these crucial projects possible” (12/2).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Socio-Economic, Health Impacts; Vaccine Access, Distribution

African Arguments: A Hollow Victory: The Hidden Cost of Covid-19 on Women’s Health in West Africa
Oley Dibba-Wadda, founder, president, and CEO of the Gam Africa Institute for Leadership (GAIL) and member of the inaugural cohort of the Amujae Initiative (12/2).

BMJ Opinion: A call for equitable distribution of covid-19 vaccines
Agnes Binagwaho, vice chancellor; Kedest Mathewos, research associate; and Paul Kadetz, associate professor and chair of the Center for Executive Education, all at the University of Global Health Equity (12/2).

UNDP: Understanding what data tell us about COVID-19’s socio-economic impact
Rachel Scott, senior partnership and policy adviser for Crisis and Fragility Policy and Engagement at UNDP, and Gregory Connor, program specialist at UNDP (12/2).

World Economic Forum: This is how the World Economic Forum is supporting COVID-19 vaccination
Kate Whiting, senior writer for Formative Content, and Martina Szabo, lead for business engagement and strategy at the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform (12/2).

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UNICEF Appeals For $6.4B In Emergency Funding To Reach Nearly 200M Children Impacted By Humanitarian Crises, COVID-19

UNICEF: UNICEF issues record US$6.4 billion emergency funding appeal to reach more than 190 million children impacted by humanitarian crises and the COVID-19 pandemic
“UNICEF today issued its largest ever emergency funding appeal for US$6.4 billion to reach 300 million people, including more than 190 million children, with essential support and services through the end of 2021. This appeal is a 35 percent increase over funds requested for 2020, and a reflection of expanding humanitarian needs globally amidst protracted crises and the COVID-19 pandemic…” (12/3).

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Polio Vaccination Campaign Resumes In Africa Following Pause Due To COVID-19; 40M Children Across 16 Countries Vaccinated, GPEI Says

Global Polio Eradication Initiative: 40 million children in Africa Region vaccinated against polio following re-start of campaigns
“One of the largest polio immunization campaigns in the African Region this year has just concluded in Chad, where over 3.3 million children in 91 districts were vaccinated. This pushes the total number of children vaccinated against polio to over forty million across 16 countries in the region, since campaigns resumed following a necessary pause in immunizations due to the COVID-19 pandemic…” (12/2).

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Guttmacher Provides Recommendations For Biden-Harris Administration's First 100 Days In Office To Advance Sexual, Reproductive Health, Rights

Guttmacher Institute: The First 100 Days: Biden-Harris Administration Must Use Electoral Mandate to Advance Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Leah H. Keller, policy manager, and Zara Ahmed, associate director of federal issues, both at Guttmacher Institute, outline steps the Biden-Harris administration could take in its first 100 days in office to support sexual and reproductive health and rights (12/2).

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From the U.S. Government

GAO Report Examines USAID FY09-19 Expenditures, Recommends Agency Analyze Timeliness Of Spending

U.S. Government and Accountability Office: Foreign Assistance: USAID Should Analyze Data on the Timeliness of Expenditures
This GAO report examines USAID obligated, or legally committed, funding appropriated in fiscal years 2009-2019, noting that 11 percent of this funding remained not yet expended, and recommends that USAID routinely analyze the timeliness of its spending (12/2).

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Strengthening Global TB Control Efforts Could Create Health, Economic Benefits In U.S., Study By CDC, Other Institutions Says

CDC: Our Common Interest: Saving Lives at Home by Ending TB Abroad
“According to a recent study by the CDC and other leading public health institutions, strengthening tuberculosis (TB) control efforts in high-burden settings globally could create significant health and economic benefits in the United States. Up to 13 million people in the U.S. have latent TB infection, and without treatment, they are at risk for developing TB disease in the future. The modeling study, led by researchers from CDC and Harvard, Stanford, and Yale universities, found that the number of new U.S. TB cases in 2035 would be 43 percent lower if other countries achieved global TB targets, when compared to current trends…” (12/1).

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U.S. Secretary Of State Provides Statement On International Day Of Persons With Disabilities

U.S. Department of State: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
In a press statement recognizing the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discusses the U.S. “commitment to, and support for, the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in daily life of the community” (12/2).

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USAID Announces Pilot Projects In Indonesia, Vietnam, Caribbean Nations To Strengthen Disaster Preparedness, Resilience

USAID: USAID Announces New Support For Private-Sector Initiatives To Strengthen Preparedness For Disasters And Reduce Their Impact
On Wednesday, “the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced pilot projects with the private sector in the Republic of Indonesia, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Caribbean countries, to advance innovative solutions to reduce the risk and impact of natural disasters. These projects are aimed at helping the humanitarian community understand how the private sector can make investments to mitigate the risk of disasters; increase businesses’ participation in community disaster-preparedness plans and policies; help reduce the social and economic impact of disasters; and support communities’ efforts to recover and rebuild after disaster strikes…” (12/2).

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From KFF

KFF Experts Examine Challenges Of Coronavirus Vaccination Globally In Foreign Affairs Article

KFF/Foreign Affairs: The Dangers of Vaccine Disillusionment
Josh Michaud, associate director for global health policy, and Jen Kates, senior vice president and director of global health & HIV policy, both with KFF, lay out the challenges in vaccinating people in low-income countries around the world and review early plans to ensure safe and effective vaccines are made available and delivered to people across the globe (12/2).

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KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of December 3, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (12/3).

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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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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