KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.K. Begins Coronavirus Vaccination Campaign With 90-Year-Old Woman Receiving First Jab

AP: ‘Route out’ of pandemic: U.K. gives 1st COVID-19 vaccine doses
“A retired British shop clerk received the first shot in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program Tuesday, signaling the start of a global immunization effort intended to offer a route out of a pandemic that has killed 1.5 million. Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, got the shot at 6:31 a.m. on what public health officials have dubbed ‘V-Day’…” (Kirka, 12/8).

POLITICO: First patient in world receives Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine
“…According to a press release by the National Health Service (NHS) England, Keenan was vaccinated by nurse May Parsons at 6.31 a.m. at her local hospital in Coventry, kicking off the U.K.’s largest-ever vaccination program. The move came after the U.K. last week became the first country in the Western world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine. Speaking on Times Radio Breakfast Tuesday morning, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock doubled down on his earlier comments that Brexit allowed Britain to get the vaccine faster than the E.U…” (Gehrke, 12/8).

Additional coverage of the U.K.’s vaccination campaign is available from BBC News, The Hill, USA TODAY, and Washington Post.

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Trump To Speak At 'Vaccine Summit,' Sign Executive Order Calling For Vaccination Of All Americans Before Sending Supplies To Other Countries; Administration Passed On Purchasing Additional Vaccine Doses, Now Face Supply Delays

The Hill: Trump to order government to vaccinate Americans first
“President Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday affirming that Americans should receive coronavirus vaccines before any are distributed to other nations. Trump will sign the order during a White House summit on Operation Warp Speed, the public-private program aimed at accelerating the delivery of a vaccine for COVID-19. … The executive order also lays out a framework for U.S. government agencies to coordinate in order to assist foreign countries in getting immunizations after the American public is vaccinated, according to the official. … Vaccines are not expected to be available to the general public until the spring at the earliest…” (Chalfant, 12/7).

New York Times: Trump administration officials passed when Pfizer offered months ago to sell the U.S. more vaccine doses
“Before Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was proved highly successful in clinical trials last month, the company offered the Trump administration the chance to lock in supplies beyond the 100 million doses the pharmaceutical maker agreed to sell the government as part of a $1.95 billion deal months ago. But the administration, according to people familiar with the talks, never made the deal, a choice that now raises questions about whether the United States allowed other countries to take its place in line. As the administration scrambles to try to purchase more doses of the vaccine, President Trump plans on Tuesday to issue an executive order that proclaims that other nations will not get the U.S. supplies of its vaccine until Americans have been inoculated. But the order appears to have no real teeth and does not expand the U.S. supply of doses, according to a description of the order on Monday by senior administration officials…” (LaFraniere et al., 12/7).

STAT: Leading Covid-19 vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna decline invitations to White House ‘Vaccine Summit’
“Both Pfizer and Moderna, the two major drug manufacturers likely to receive emergency authorizations for a Covid-19 vaccine in the coming weeks, have rejected invitations from President Trump to appear at a White House ‘Vaccine Summit’ on Tuesday, according to two sources familiar with the event’s planning. … The vaccine manufacturers’ absences will be conspicuous at a ‘Vaccine Summit,’ an event that drug industry figures and one Trump administration official largely viewed as a public relations stunt when STAT first reported the event last week…” (Facher, 12/7).

Washington Post: Pfizer tells U.S. officials it cannot supply substantial additional vaccine until late June or July
“Pfizer has told the Trump administration it cannot provide substantial additional doses of its coronavirus vaccine until late June or July because other countries have rushed to buy up most of its supply, according to multiple individuals familiar with the situation. … Trump administration officials denied there would be availability issues in the second quarter, citing other vaccines in the pipeline — most immediately, Moderna’s, also expected to be approved in coming weeks. Both vaccines are two-dose regimens, so the 100 million doses purchased of each would cover 50 million people each…” (McGinley et al., 12/8).

Additional coverage of the vaccine meeting is available from The Hill. Trump’s address at the event will be streamed on YouTube.

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Nationalism Threatens To Hinder Equitable Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution; Media Outlets Report On Various Nations' Efforts To Vaccinate Populations

The Atlantic: Vaccine Nationalism Is Doomed to Fail
“After nearly a year of waging a ‘war’ on the coronavirus, many countries are poised to declare victory. … Many of these vaccines, and the ongoing trials for potential alternatives, have benefited from huge levels of government investment — much of it coming from wealthy countries determined to secure their spot at the front of the line for when the vaccines are finally ready. To that end, billions of doses were reserved before any had been approved for use, with many countries claiming enough to inoculate their population several times over. This ‘vaccine nationalism,’ in which countries prioritize their domestic needs at the expense of others, may have helped accelerate efforts to develop such drugs, but it is already showing its limits. With wealthy countries claiming the lion’s share of prospective doses for themselves, and with global efforts to equalize vaccine distribution facing enduring unilateralism and limited resources, a coronavirus vaccine returning the world to something resembling ‘normal’ could take considerable time — perhaps even longer than it needs to. … Without equal vaccine distribution, public-health experts warn, the pandemic could continue to live on residually for years, bringing with it even more death and further economic collapse. If the virus remains endemic anywhere, it will continue to pose a threat everywhere…” (Serhan, 12/8).

ABC (Australia): Indonesia receives 1.2 million doses of coronavirus trial drugs as China pursues ‘vaccine diplomacy’ (Xiao, 12/7).

AP: Morocco to kick off mass vaccination plan with Chinese drug (El Barakah, 12/8).

The Guardian: India’s biggest challenge: how to vaccinate 1.3bn people against Covid-19? (Dhillon, 12/8).

New York Times: The Kremlin Is Offering Russians Free Vaccines, but Will They Take Them? (Troianovski, 12/7).

Washington Post: U.S. sanctions could impede Iran’s access to coronavirus vaccines, experts say (Berger, 12/7).

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WHO Officials Discuss Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution, Challenge Trials, Prevention Strategies

AP/TIME: Don’t Hug Anybody Over the Holiday Season, the World Health Organization Says
“The World Health Organization has an unwelcome but potentially life-saving message for the holiday season: Don’t hug. To stop the spread of the coronavirus, WHO’s emergencies chief said Monday that the ‘shocking’ rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths, particularly in the U.S., means that people shouldn’t get too close to their loved ones this year…” (Keaten, 12/7).

The Guardian: WHO looks at giving Covid-19 to healthy people to speed up vaccine trials
“The World Health Organization is holding discussions on Monday about the feasibility of trials in which healthy young volunteers are deliberately infected with coronavirus to hasten vaccine development — amid questions over whether they should go ahead given the promising data from the frontrunner vaccine candidates…” (Grover, 12/7).

Reuters: WHO does not envisage COVID-19 vaccines being made mandatory
“The World Health Organization does not foresee mandatory vaccinations being introduced around the world to stem the spread of the coronavirus, officials said on Monday…” (Farge/Revill, 12/7).

U.N. News: Prioritize health workers, at-risk groups, for COVID-19 vaccines: WHO chief
“As countries plan to roll out COVID-19 vaccines in the coming days, weeks, and months, health workers and other at-risk populations should be prioritized for vaccination, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. … The recommendations are based on the so-called Values Framework and Population Prioritization Roadmap, issued by a WHO advisory group on immunization…” (12/7).

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AstraZeneca, Pfizer Apply For Emergency Use Authorizations Of Coronavirus Vaccines In India

Wall Street Journal: AstraZeneca and Pfizer Ask India for Emergency-Use Covid-19 Vaccine Authorizations
“The companies behind two of the most promising Covid-19 vaccine candidates, AstraZeneca PLC and Pfizer Inc., have asked India for emergency-use authorization to start using their vaccines in the South Asian nation, which has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic. Both Pfizer and Serum Institute of India — which is manufacturing AstraZeneca’s vaccine for developing countries — have applied for the authorization, which would allow their vaccines to circumvent a long trial and application process, said an official at the Drugs Controller General of India…” (Bellman, 12/7).

Additional coverage of the applications is available from Axios and Reuters.

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Airlines, Freezer Producers See Boost As COVID-19 Vaccines Begin Rollouts

Financial Times: Ultra-cold freezing presents next challenge in Covid vaccine race
“Demand for ultra-cold storage freezers has spiked as governments and manufacturers prepare to ship Covid-19 vaccines around the world and along the so-called last mile to those most vulnerable to the disease…” (Dempsey et al., 12/7).

Reuters: Vaccine airlift delivers shot in the arm for airlines
“Airlines battered by COVID-19 are prepping for key roles in the mass vaccine rollout that promises to unlock an immediate boost for the sector — and beyond that, its own recovery and survival…” (Frost et al., 12/7).

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School Closures In Response To COVID-19 Unnecessary, Harmful, UNICEF Says

U.N. News: Shutting school systems, wrong response to COVID-19, UNICEF says
“Countries fighting the coronavirus should not impose nationwide or large-scale school closures, which is the wrong response and compounds the societal cost of the disease, with 320 million children locked out of school at the start of December, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said on Tuesday…” (12/7).

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Media Outlets Examine President-Elect Biden's Picks For Key Health Positions, Implications For COVID-19 Response

Science: Biden names HIV researcher to lead CDC
“President-elect Joe Biden has moved to fill two top health positions in his administration, his transition team announced [Monday]. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will be nominated as secretary of health and human services (HHS), and HIV/AIDS researcher Rochelle Walensky of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital has been selected to direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Biden’s choice of Walensky has drawn widespread praise from infectious disease and public health experts, who say her experience as a physician and AIDS researcher and her communication skills will serve her well as director of the country’s premier public health agency during the COVID-19 pandemic…” (Kaiser, 12/7).

STAT: Biden’s health picks signal a bottom-up approach to the Covid-19 pandemic
“President-elect Biden’s pandemic-response strategy took clearer shape this week with the rollout of several surprising appointments — a list that underscores that his Covid-19 response will be led far more by career government scientists and lower-level health agency deputies than has been the case during the Trump administration. … But the mechanics of the government’s response, pandemic experts told STAT, will likely fall increasingly to health agency deputies focused on pandemic response as well as longtime agency scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The strategy would represent a marked contrast from Trump-era pandemic response, where career scientists at several health agencies, especially the CDC, quickly fell out of favor with the White House and played little public role in the federal Covid-19 effort…” (Facher, 12/8).

Washington Post: Biden’s choice to run CDC is a respected specialist who is unafraid to speak her mind
“President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a widely respected infectious-diseases specialist regarded as a strong communicator unafraid to speak her mind, qualities critical to returning the beleaguered public health agency to its traditional front-line role and to bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control. But while Rochelle Walensky’s research has long had a public health focus, she has never run a government agency or organization as large and complex as the CDC…” (Sun, 12/7).

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U.S. Global Fragility Strategy Could Help Drive Reform, Coordination Of Development Initiatives In Fragile States, OECD Representative Says

Devex: Global fragility strategy could drive system reform if implemented properly, OECD says
“A new U.S. approach to fragile states provides an opportunity to spur widespread reform in the existing ‘fragmented international system’ that deals with fragile states, an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development representative said Monday. Jonathan Marley, who leads OECD’s ‘States of Fragility’ team, said levels of fragility — which were already deteriorating even before the COVID-19 pandemic — must now contend with the additional shocks of 2020. This drastically worse situation created in just a span of 12 months makes it all the more imperative that the forthcoming U.S. global fragility strategy is successful in a world where development strategies too often work completely independent of one another, he said…” (Welsh, 12/8).

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UNFPA Launches Appeal For $818M To Provide Women, Girls With Services Amid COVID-19, Says Yemen Has Greatest Needs

U.N. News: 54 million women and youth face staggering humanitarian challenges
“As COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact women and girls hit by multiple humanitarian crises, the U.N. sexual and reproductive health agency appealed on Monday for $818 million to provide 54 million women and youth with essential and life-saving services throughout 2021. ‘The rights and needs of women and adolescent girls in emergencies are often overlooked, and COVID-19 has made matters worse, with rising intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and child marriage,’ said Natalia Kanem, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). Through its humanitarian appeal, UNFPA emphasized the need to adapt and integrate services for sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence (GBV), mental health, and psychosocial support during the pandemic. … In the Middle East, rising GBV and diminishing healthcare facilities in Yemen have prompted the need for $100 million, including to support more than a million pregnant and acutely malnourished women…” (12/7).

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Foreign Affairs Polls Global Health Experts On Need For New Organization To Address Pandemics

Foreign Affairs: Does the World Need a New Global Health Organization?
“We at Foreign Affairs have recently published a number of pieces on global health organizations and the COVID-19 pandemic. To complement these articles, we decided to ask a broad pool of experts for their take. As with previous surveys, we approached dozens of authorities with specialized expertise relevant to the question at hand, together with leading generalists in the field. Participants were asked to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a proposition and to rate their confidence level in their opinion. Their answers are below…” (12/8).

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U.N. General Assembly Adopts Resolution Declaring International Day Of Epidemic Preparedness

Reuters: A year into COVID-19, U.N. declares a day of ‘epidemic preparedness’
“A year into a global battle against the coronavirus, the United Nations General Assembly on Monday declared Dec. 27 will be the ‘International Day of Epidemic Preparedness’ in a bid to ensure lessons are learned for any future health crises. … The 193-member General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus on Monday that recognizes the need ‘to raise the level of preparedness in order to have the earliest and most adequate response to any epidemic that may arise.’…” (Nichols, 12/7).

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Response Review Not Shared With Stakeholders Until Months After Outbreak Ended

The Telegraph: Review into DRC Ebola outbreak shared with senior officials only after outbreak ended
“A review into the management of a long-running outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was not seen by some senior members of the organizations involved in the response until several months after the epidemic was declared over, according to media reports. An internal review by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, a grouping of U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations, was conducted into the response to the Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri regions of DRC, which was first declared in August 2018. … According to a report in the New Humanitarian journal the internal review was conducted in January 2020 but the findings were not shared with all interested parties until this month — nearly six months after the outbreak was declared over…” (Gulland, 12/7).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

ABC News: Experts are homing in on an influenza vaccine that could last a lifetime (Afrahimi, 12/7).

Al Jazeera: Bangladesh moves Rohingya to remote island (Ghani, 12/7).

AP: Yemen ‘on edge of precipice’ as UNICEF launches aid appeal (Federman, 12/7).

AP: ‘Nobody knows’: Experts baffled by mystery illness in India (Ghosal, 12/8).

BBC: Covid forces Davos forum to move to Singapore (12/7).

Borgen Magazine: COVID-19 in Mexico and Argentina (Vanderveen, 12/8).

Borgen Magazine: How the Hepatitis B Vaccine Reduces Global Poverty (Quallen, 12/7).

Devex: Cambodia in a race to curb latest COVID-19 outbreak (Ravelo, 12/8).

Devex: The psychologists aboard Sicily’s refugee ships (Smith, 12/8).

Devex: IDB to launch climate facility next year, president says (Welsh, 12/7).

Financial Times: Non-profits fill gaps in the broken market for antibiotics (Cookson, 12/7).

STAT: A payoff for U.S. taxpayers? CDC may have claims on remdesivir patents held by Gilead (Silverman, 12/7).

U.N. News: Improved Afghan law still fails victims of sex crimes and violence against women, U.N. report finds (12/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Need For U.S. Leadership In Managing, Controlling Impacts Of COVID-19 Pandemic

CNN: With Covid-19 raging, where are America’s leaders?
Merrill Brown, founder and CEO of the News Project Inc., founding editor-in-chief of MSNBC.com, and founding director of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University (12/7).

Scientific American: To Control COVID, Biden Needs to Marshal Federal Resources — and Change Attitudes
Tanya Lewis, associate editor at Scientific American (12/8).

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Opinion Pieces Address Topics Related To COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Role Of Faith Groups; Vaccine Safety; Hunger

Devex: Opinion: The enduring value of multireligious action
Azza Karam, secretary general of Religions for Peace and professor of religion and development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Amy Rauenhorst Goldman, CEO and chair of the GHR Foundation (12/7).

STAT: Covid-19 vaccine safety and the public trust: lessons from Paul Meier and polio
Diane E. Meier, director at Center to Advance Palliative Care and professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and colleagues (12/7).

Washington Post: What the pandemic can teach us about treating hunger
José Andrés, owner of ThinkFoodGroup and founder of World Central Kitchen (12/7).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post, Releases Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Impact On Global Food Security, Malnutrition; Vaccine Acceptance; World Bank's Response

CSIS: A New Covid-19 Mantra? ‘Nobody Is Safe until Everybody Is Fed’
Chase Sova, non-resident senior associate with the Global Food Security Program at CSIS and senior director of Public Policy and Thought Leadership at World Food Program USA (WFP USA) (12/4).

WHO: Vaccine acceptance is the next hurdle (12/4).

World Bank: The World Bank Group Mounts the Fastest and Largest Health Crisis Response in its History to Save Lives from COVID-19 (12/7).

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TB Research Funding Topped $900M In 2019, New Report Examining Funding Trends Since 2005 Shows

Treatment Action Group: Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends 2005-2019
“Global funding for tuberculosis (TB) research totaled over US$900 million in 2019, the second highest level on record, according to a report released [Monday] by Treatment Action Group (TAG) and the United Nations-hosted Stop TB Partnership. The report — Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends, 2005-2019 — presents new data on 2019 funding for TB research and development (R&D) and analyzes trends in investment since 2005. TB killed more people than any other single infectious agent in 2019. The figures for 2019 provide a last look at funding for TB R&D before the devastating emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, an event whose full effect on the research landscape for TB and other infectious diseases will only be known in a few years’ time…” (12/7).

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WHO Advisory Group Releases Strategy Report On Engaging Private Health Service Delivery Sector

WHO: Strategy Report: Engaging the private health service delivery sector through governance in mixed health systems
In this strategy report, the WHO Advisory Group on the Governance of the Private Sector for UHC provides recommendations on how WHO can play a role in supporting universal health coverage through private health sector service delivery governance (12/7).

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From KFF

KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of December 8, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (12/8).

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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