KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Media Outlets Provide Latest Updates On Coronavirus Cases, Deaths

AP: New virus has infected more than 64,000 people globally (2/14).

BBC: Coronavirus: No change in outbreak despite China spike, WHO says (2/14).

The Hill: Coronavirus death toll climbs past 1,350 in China, 5,000 new cases reported (Johnson, 2/14).

Reuters: China says 1,716 health workers infected by coronavirus, six dead (Lee, 2/14).

STAT: Disease modelers gaze into their computers to see the future of Covid-19, and it isn’t good (Begley, 2/14).

Other updates on the coronavirus outbreak are available from New York Times, Reuters, and Washington Post.

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Media Outlets Report On Chinese Government, NGO Response To Coronavirus Outbreak In Country

Devex: Coronavirus in China: International NGOs’ response
“As international relief and aid organizations develop responses to the threat of novel coronavirus in Africa, only a few international NGOs are directly engaging in the epicenter of the public health crisis in Wuhan, China. The Chinese government has eased visa restrictions on aid organizations since the outbreak of the virus at the end of December, but it remains complicated for new groups to join prevention and treatment efforts, according to Chris Skopec, executive vice president of global health at the humanitarian relief organization Project HOPE. All are expected to work through existing health systems and agencies in China, he said…” (Lieberman, 2/14).

New York Times: China Expands Chaotic Dragnet in Coronavirus Crackdown
“China’s leaders expanded a mass roundup of people possibly sickened with the coronavirus on Thursday, widening their dragnet well beyond the epicenter of the outbreak to at least two more cities in what the government has called a ‘wartime’ campaign to stamp out the epidemic. But the campaign, first announced last week in the city of Wuhan, already has been marred by chaotic conditions that have isolated vulnerable patients without adequate care and, in some cases, left them alone to die…” (Qin, 2/13).

Reuters: China’s Xi says to fix problems exposed during coronavirus outbreak: state TV
“Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday the ruling Communist Party must fix various problems, loopholes, and weaknesses exposed during the current outbreak of the coronavirus, state television reported on Friday…” (Lee, 2/14).

Reuters: Under China’s coronavirus lockdown, millions have nowhere to go
“Around 500 million people in China are currently affected by policies put in place restricting movement, to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus. That’s more than the entire population of the United States and is equivalent to roughly 6.5% of the world’s population. As of Friday, at least 48 cities and four provinces in China have issued official notices for lockdown policies, with measures ranging from ‘closed-off management,’ where residents of a community have to be registered before they are allowed in or out, to restrictions that shut down highways, railways, and public transport systems…” (2/14).

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AP Examines Implications Of Taiwan, China Tensions Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

AP: Health concerns meet politics amid Taiwan’s WHO exclusion
“Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Organization is pitting health concerns against geopolitics during the current crisis over the new illness known as COVID-19. Taiwan has called repeatedly for it to be allowed to participate in WHO, from which it has been barred by China. So strong is China’s diplomatic pressure that Taiwan can no longer take part in the organization’s annual World Health Assembly, even as an observer. China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan and uses its diplomatic clout to stop the island from joining any organizations that require statehood for membership. … But some observers say Taiwan’s publicity offensive seems at least as much about highlighting its China-imposed diplomatic isolation as it is about public health. Lack of WHO membership puts Taiwan at risk of missing firsthand updates on infectious diseases, but the island’s government has found alternative ways to stay informed, officials and analysts say…” (Jennings, 2/14).

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U.S. Supportive Of Aid To North Korea If Coronavirus Emerges In Country, Says State Department

New York Times: U.S. Supports Aid to North Korea for Fighting the Coronavirus
“The United States said it would approve humanitarian assistance to North Korea to help international aid agencies fight the coronavirus there, amid fears that the impoverished country may be hiding an outbreak. North Korea has not reported any cases of the new coronavirus. But in the past week, some South Korean news reports, citing unnamed sources within the secretive North, said there had been deaths that were suspected to be related to the virus. The reports could not be confirmed…” (Choe, 2/14).

VOA News: U.S. ‘Deeply Concerned’ North Koreans Vulnerable to Coronavirus
“The United States says it is ‘deeply concerned’ about North Koreans’ vulnerability to a new coronavirus and says it backs international groups trying to help Pyongyang prevent a possible outbreak. ‘We strongly support and encourage the work of U.S. and international aid and health organizations to counter and contain the spread of coronavirus in the DPRK,’ State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said late Thursday. ‘The United States is ready and prepared to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organizations,’ she added. The statement potentially paves the way for aid groups to deliver emergency medical supplies to North Korea, though the timeline is still uncertain because the groups must first obtain exemptions from the United Nations…” (Gallo, 2/14).

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NPR Examines DARPA's Role In Pandemic Preparedness, Response

NPR: DARPA Aims To Have Coronavirus Vaccine Shortly After Outbreak’s Start
“The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency supports a pandemic preparedness program that is designed to respond rapidly to an emerging threat such as the coronavirus.” The audio file of the radio story is available (Palca, 2/14).

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U.S. Announces New Coronavirus Case In Country; CDC Director, Former FDA Commissioner Comment On Outbreak

AP: U.S. announces 15th virus case, this one in Texas evacuee
“U.S. officials on Thursday announced the country’s 15th confirmed case of the new coronavirus — an evacuee from China who had been under quarantine in Texas. The patient, who had been flown to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio last week, is now in isolation at a hospital and was reported in stable condition…” (Stobbe, 2/13).

CNN: CDC director: Novel coronavirus ‘is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year’
“As an outbreak of a novel coronavirus has swept through Hubei province, China, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been preparing for its worst case scenario — a widespread outbreak of illnesses in the United States. ‘Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,’ CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an interview on Thursday. ‘We don’t know a lot about this virus,’ he said. ‘This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission’…” (Howard, 2/13).

MedPage Today: Gottlieb: Keep Close Eye on Coronavirus in Singapore
“Never mind China; how the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak progresses in Singapore is key to understanding the danger to the rest of the world, said Scott Gottlieb, MD, at a Senate committee hearing. ‘So far, in Singapore with 50 cases identified… eight are in the ICU. That’s deeply concerning to me,’ said Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner and now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, at a Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs hearing Wednesday…” (Firth, 2/13).

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U.S. State Department OIG Audit Describes 'Wide-Ranging Concerns' About PEPFAR's Leadership, Management

Devex: PEPFAR teams complain of ‘dictatorial,’ ‘directive,’ and ‘autocratic’ leadership
“In an audit published Thursday, the U.S. State Department’s Office of Inspector General described wide-ranging concerns about the management approach taken by the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy [(OGAC)], which provides leadership for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief [(PEPFAR)]. The independent watchdog pointed to multiple complaints from members of PEPFAR’s country teams, who cited unrealistic targets, an unwillingness by PEPFAR’s leaders to hear differences of opinion, and a ‘dictatorial’ approach by OGAC to country planning…” (Igoe, 2/14).

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USAID To Structure Resilience Work Around Conflict, Climate

Devex: Climate, conflict at core of changes to USAID resilience work
“The U.S. Agency for International Development is structuring its work on resilience around the areas of conflict and climate as it prepares to stand up the new Bureau for Resilience and Food Security. Christine Gottschalk, director of the Center for Resilience at USAID’s existing Bureau for Food Security, said while work on resilience was ‘still a work in progress,’ it is already showing clear results in increasing the capacity of both households and communities to withstand shocks. … ‘Our focus on resilience, and our focus on bringing developmental solutions to areas of recurrent crisis, is very important. It is a change in how we’re doing business, and we are talking a lot about it’ [Gottschalk said]…” (Welsh, 2/14).

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DFID Gains New Leadership, Bringing Relief Among U.K. Development Professionals

Devex: Respite for DFID as Anne-Marie Trevelyan named secretary of state
“A sense of temporary relief reigned among development professionals in the U.K. on Thursday, as the government’s Department for International Development [(DFID)] gained a new boss and remained an independent entity. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, member of Parliament for Berwick-Upon-Tweed, will replace Alok Sharma as secretary of state for DFID following a reshuffling of the Cabinet. Trevelyan, who is a strongly pro-Brexit member of the Conservative Party and has previously expressed views skeptical of aid, will be DFID’s sixth secretary of state in four years. The appointment quells months-long rumors that the department could be folded into the Foreign & Commonwealth Office — at least for now…” (Worley, 2/13).

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Ebola Outbreak In DRC Waning

Washington Post: While coronavirus surges, the Ebola outbreak in Congo finally wanes
“The second-biggest Ebola outbreak in history … is down to its last chain of transmission. … The waning of the Ebola outbreak comes as a new one captures global attention — and, potentially, funding as well. Global health officials have warned that while the novel coronavirus, now known as covid-19, racks up thousands of new cases a day, the hard work of ending the Ebola outbreak and preventing another is far from over…” (Bearak, 2/14).

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Africa Prepares For Introduction Of Coronavirus; Quartz Africa Discusses Applications Of Lessons From West African Ebola Outbreak

Lancet: Africa prepares for coronavirus
“With cases of novel coronavirus spreading worldwide, governments and institutions are getting ready for the first cases in Africa. Munyaradzi Makoni reports from Cape Town…” (Makoni, 2/15).

Quartz Africa: The lessons of West Africa’s Ebola’s crisis will save the continent from the worst of coronavirus
“The Ebola outbreak across West Africa between 2013 and 2014 was devastating taking more than 11,000 lives in three countries. … As African countries appear at risk of another viral outbreak with COVID-19 (as the particular coronavirus strain in China is now known), effective containment this time around will likely require more than valiant heroics. The World Health Organization and other regional and country public health experts are very worried the ‘fragile’ health systems in most African countries will be unable to cope if coronavirus takes hold on the continent. Even China with its larger pool of technical and financial resources, appears to be struggling to contain the virus…” (Kazeem, 2/13).

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More Coronavirus News

CIDRAP: Unmasked: Experts explain necessary respiratory protection for COVID-19 (Soucheray, 2/13).

CNBC: Tesla acknowledges ‘health epidemics’ as new risk in financial filing amid coronavirus outbreak (Kolodny, 2/13).

New York Times: Coronavirus ‘Hits All the Hot Buttons’ for How We Misjudge Risk (Fisher, 2/13).

Scientific American: Attempts at Debunking ‘Fake News’ about Epidemics Might Do More Harm Than Good (Stix, 2/14).

TIME: Experts Worry Quarantine Procedures May Actually Increase Infection Risk on Cruise Ship Docked in Japan with COVID-19 (Mansoor, 2/13).

Washington Post: Economic fallout from China’s coronavirus mounts around the world (Lynch, 2/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Piece Discusses China's Handling Of Information On Coronavirus

New York Times: The Coronavirus Story is Too Big for China to Spin
Kiki Zhao, writer

“…Dr. Li [Wenliang], a 34-year-old ophthalmologist in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, was one of the first doctors to try to warn about the disease, and then to die from it. The story of how the authorities muzzled Dr. Li became an instant parable for their trampling on the Chinese public’s right to know. The authorities’ effort to now muzzle the public’s outrage is a parable of government unaccountability. … As ever, the central government in Beijing is scrambling to project the image that it has everything under control. … The people can see through the government’s ploy, and they are fuming…” (2/13).

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Opinion Piece Discusses Coronavirus Vaccine Development

The Conversation: Here’s why the WHO says a coronavirus vaccine is 18 months away
Rob Grenfell, director of health and biosecurity at CSIRO, and Trevor Drew, director of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) at CSIRO

“The World Health Organisation said this week it may be 18 months before a vaccine against the coronavirus is publicly available. … Vaccines have historically taken two to five years to develop. But with a global effort, and learning from past efforts to develop coronavirus vaccines, researchers could potentially develop a vaccine in a much shorter time. … All this work needs to be done under stringent quality and safety conditions, to ensure it meets global legislative requirements, and to ensure staff and the wider community are safe. … Developing a vaccine is a huge task and not something that can happen overnight. But if things go to plan, it will be much faster than we’ve seen before…” (2/13).

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Lancet Editorial Discusses WHO Guidelines For Care Of Pregnant, Breastfeeding Women In Ebola Outbreaks

The Lancet: Appropriate care for pregnant women in Ebola outbreaks
Editorial Board

“On Feb 10, new WHO guidelines were released for the management of pregnant and breastfeeding women in the context of Ebola virus disease, outlining appropriate steps for clinicians to take in D.R. Congo. … Pregnant women require special guidelines in Ebola-stricken areas … Secondary impacts of Ebola disproportionately affect women and the economically disadvantaged. It is vital that coordinated services are put in place to ensure proper attention to maternity care and reproductive health of women in these areas, and these guidelines are an important step in the necessary widespread dissemination of this information. Treatment of Ebola and its complications must not come at the cost of the health of mothers and their children” (2/15).

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Expert Discusses Efforts To Develop Effective HIV Vaccine

The Conversation: The search for an effective HIV vaccine continues
Anatoli Kamali, regional director for Africa at IAVI, and honorary professor in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

“An HIV vaccine trial that started in 2016 in South Africa was halted in February 2020. The study sponsors made the call after interim results showed that the vaccine, known as HVTN 702, did not prevent HIV. This result was disappointing, but the search for an effective HIV vaccine continues. Anatoli Kamali speaks to The Conversation Africa’s Ina Skosana about other developments in the field…” (2/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Expert Discusses Implications Of Authoritarianism, 'Information Politics' In Disease Outbreak Responses

The Lancet Public Health: Authoritarianism, outbreaks, and information politics
Matthew M. Kavanagh, visiting professor of law, assistant professor of global health, and director of the Global Health Policy and Governance Initiative at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, discusses the information and accountability challenges authoritarian governments face when addressing an outbreak, and in particular, how information politics could undermine rapid response to a disease outbreak like the coronavirus. Kavanagh writes, “[I]n building capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks, democratic openness and competitive politics seem more asset than inadequacy” (2/13).

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IntraHealth International Blog Post Highlights 10 Global Health Issues To Watch In New Decade

IntraHealth International’s “VITAL”: 10 Global Health Issues to Watch in the 2020s
Margarite Nathe, principal editor and writer at IntraHealth International, outlines 10 global health issues to watch in this next decade: infectious diseases and potential pandemics; fake news; climate change; supply chains; digital health; mental health; heart disease, cancer, and noncommunicable diseases; the global health workforce; women leaders in health care; and the Sustainable Development Goals (2/14).

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