KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Health, Trump Administration Officials Send Mixed Messages On Americans' Coronavirus Risk; CDC Official Warns Residents To Prepare For Spread Of Virus

AP: Trump, U.S. officials send mixed messages on virus risk here
“President Donald Trump and his chief economic adviser said Tuesday that the new coronavirus is under control in the U.S., even as the government’s top disease fighters warned Americans to prepare for an outbreak here. The mixed messages came as the stock market tumbled for a second straight day and lawmakers of both political parties questioned whether the White House’s request for $2.5 billion in virus response funding will be enough to prepare the nation…” (Alonso-Zaldivar et al., 2/26).

New York Times: CDC Officials Warn of Coronavirus Outbreaks in the U.S.
“Federal health officials starkly warned on Tuesday that the new coronavirus will almost certainly spread in the United States, and that hospitals, businesses, and schools should begin making preparations. ‘It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,’ Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a news briefing…” (Belluck et al., 2/25).

STAT: CDC expects ‘community spread’ of coronavirus, as top official warns disruptions could be ‘severe’
“…The CDC’s messaging seemed to be at odds with the position of the World Health Organization, which reiterated Tuesday that countries could stop transmission chains if they acted swiftly and aggressively. Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO official who led a recent international mission to China to see how that country had dealt with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, said the lesson from China was that the impact of the new virus can be dramatically curtailed. But countries have to be prepared to wage a full-on assault, he insisted…” (Thielking/Branswell, 2/25).

Additional coverage of U.S. and international messaging surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak is available from The Hill (2), MedPage Today, MSNBC, NPR, POLITICO (2), Reuters, Science Speaks, USA TODAY, Washington Post, and Washington Times.

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U.S. Lawmakers From Both Parties Express Concern Over Trump Administration's Response To Growing Coronavirus Threat

The Hill: Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response
“Lawmakers in both parties on Tuesday expressed growing alarm that the threat of coronavirus in the United States is serious, and that the Trump administration is not doing enough to fight it…” (Sullivan/Hellmann, 2/25).

The Hill: GOP chairman of Appropriations panel worries Trump ‘lowballing’ coronavirus funding request
“The GOP chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee said Tuesday he is concerned the Trump administration is ‘lowballing’ its request for emergency coronavirus funding and that he will recommend a ‘higher’ number. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he has heard complaints that the $2.5 billion requested by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is not enough to prepare for a possible pandemic…” (Hellmann, 2/25).

POLITICO: Coronavirus triggers swift bipartisan backlash against Trump
“…The grim news and the angst on Capitol Hill is threatening to overwhelm the messaging from President Donald Trump and some of his aides, who have been trying to downplay the situation in hopes they can put a lid on the stock market tumble and cable news coverage of mounting deaths around the world. Trump’s advisers and political allies are increasingly concerned that a botched response could hurt the U.S. economy and put his reelection prospects at risk. Tuesday’s events showed the White House may need to come up with a new way to limit the damage…” (Roubein et al., 2/25).

Additional coverage of U.S. lawmakers’ response to the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak is available from FOX News, Global Biodefense, The Hill (2) (3), and Reuters.

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Democratic Presidential Candidates Discuss Coronavirus Outbreak, U.S. Response During Debate; Trump Defends Administration's Actions On Twitter

CBS: Democratic candidates spell out how they would respond to coronavirus outbreak
“As the Trump administration grapples with the growing coronavirus outbreak, Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination laid out their roadmaps for how they would respond if they were in the White House. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Former Vice President Joe Biden, and Senator Bernie Sanders advocated for increasing federal dollars for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), saying a boost in their funding is crucial to ensuring the U.S. is prepared to deal with an outbreak. The Democratic presidential hopefuls also said they would improve relations with other countries to ensure the global community can work together to tackle future outbreaks…” (Quinn, 2/25).

The Hill: Trump defends handling of coronavirus as Democrats hit him during debate
“President Trump defended his administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak as the 2020 Democratic contenders hammered him over his response at Tuesday night’s debate. ‘CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus, including the very early closing of our borders to certain areas of the world. It was opposed by the Dems, “too soon,” but turned out to be the correct decision,’ he tweeted, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” (Axelrod, 2/25).

Additional coverage of the discussion of coronavirus during Tuesday night’s Democratic debate is available from The Hill, Hollywood Reporter, New York Magazine, POLITICO, and Washington Post.

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U.S. Government Begins Human Testing Of Possible COVID-19 Treatment, Will Start Experimental Vaccine Trials In 6 Weeks

CNBC: U.S. health officials say human trials on coronavirus vaccine to start in 6 weeks
“Human trials testing a potential vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus are expected to begin in six weeks, U.S. health officials announced Tuesday…” (Lovelace, 2/25).

CNN: The U.S. has started human testing of a drug to treat the novel coronavirus
“Hope for treating the novel coronavirus could be on the horizon, as the first U.S. study of a drug to treat the illness is underway. … News of the drug testing came Tuesday, just as a federal health official warned that the virus will eventually start spreading in U.S. communities…” (Holcombe et al., 2/6).

Devex: Will vaccines reach low-income countries during a global pandemic?
“If COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, becomes a global pandemic, it will raise new questions about how to rapidly scale up vaccination efforts in low- and middle-income countries, according to the head of Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance…” (Igoe, 2/26).

TIME: COVID-19 Vaccine Shipped, and Drug Trials Start
“Moderna Therapeutics, a biotech company based in Cambridge, Mass., has shipped the first batches of its COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was created just 42 days after the genetic sequence of the COVID-19 virus, called SARS-CoV-2, was released by Chinese researchers in mid-January. The first vials were sent to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, which will ready the vaccine for human testing as early as April…” (Park, 2/25).

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News Outlets Examine How International Community Addressing Coronavirus Outbreak

AP: ‘Time is everything’: World braces for spread of new virus (Johnson et al., 2/25).

PRI: Iranians skeptical their government can handle the coronavirus outbreak (Jaafari, 2/25).

Reuters: E.U. calls for coordinated European response to coronavirus (Chalmers et al., 2/26).

Science: The coronavirus seems unstoppable. What should the world do now? (Cohen/Kupferschmidt, 2/25).

STAT: New data from China buttress fears about high coronavirus fatality rate, WHO expert says (Branswell, 2/25).

The Telegraph: Coronavirus pandemic: How will Britain and the NHS cope (Nuki/Gulland, 2/24).

Washington Post: Italy’s coronavirus lockdown shows how the outbreak is testing democracies (Harlan et al., 2/24).

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USAID To Scale Down Aid Operations In Houthi-Controlled Areas Of Yemen If Obstruction Does Not Stop, U.S. Official Confirms

Al Jazeera: Yemen: U.S. to stop aid in Houthi areas if rebels do not cooperate
“Aid agency USAID has said it will suspend aid to Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, where most of the country’s people live, if the rebels do not remove impediments obstructing aid operations…” (2/25).

Reuters: Donors, aid groups planning to suspend Yemen aid to Houthi areas: U.S. official
“…Aid agency sources told Reuters earlier this month that Houthi authorities in northern Yemen were obstructing efforts to get food and other help to those in need, to an extent that was no longer tolerable, and that operations would be scaled down. The senior U.S. State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed those plans. … The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis and says millions of people are on the verge of starvation…” (Pamuk/Nichols, 2/25).

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NASEM Study Examines Long-Term Impacts Of Malaria Prophylaxis Drugs

Devex: Peace Corps offers window into long-term impacts of malaria drugs
“A new report on potential long-term health effects of malaria drugs reached few definitive conclusions. Researchers were clear on one point though: There has not been enough good research into potential links between malaria prophylactics and a variety of health outcomes experienced by people who have taken them. The study, published Tuesday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, sought to respond to questions raised mainly by advocates for U.S. military personnel deployed in malaria-endemic countries…” (Igoe, 2/25).

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Canada Must Spend More On Foreign Aid To Reach Goals Under Feminist International Assistance Policy, Not Impact Other Development Priorities, Experts Say

Globe and Mail: Canada must boost foreign aid for feminist agenda to have sustained impact, experts say
“International development experts say [Canada’s] federal government must boost its foreign-aid spending toward the U.N. target if it wants its feminist agenda to have a meaningful and sustained impact. The government unveiled its feminist international assistance policy in 2017 as a cornerstone of its foreign agenda. … The international development sector says that while the policy shift [to spend more on international funding for women and girls’ health and rights] is ambitious, the government must increase foreign-aid spending as a percentage of GNI in order to ensure the feminist agenda does not affect spending on Canada’s other development priorities…” (Carbert, 2/25).

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Canadian-Funded Program In Mozambique Offers Access To Abortion, Contraceptives, Training On Family Planning

Globe and Mail: In Mozambique, Canadian aid funds a rare service: safe abortions
“…The $18-million Mozambique project is financed under the Trudeau government’s ‘feminist international assistance’ policy, which provides $550-million annually for sexual- and reproductive-health and rights, including family planning and abortion, with plans to increase funding over the next three years. … In addition to training doctors and providing abortion medicine, the Canadian project uses household visits and small-group discussions to help educate Mozambicans on family planning and contraception methods, sexual and reproductive rights, gender equality, and the need to halt child marriage and gender-based violence. It has also trained hospital and clinic staff to file reports with the police when they see victims of rape or other violence. Its main focus is on girls and young women up to the age of 24, although it also includes education sessions for young men…” (York, 2/25).

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U.N. Official Warns Humanitarian Crisis In Syria Reaches 'Horrifying New Level'

NPR: U.N.: Humanitarian Crisis In Syria Reaches ‘Horrifying New Level’
“The humanitarian crisis in Syria has reached a ‘horrifying new level,’ according to a U.N. official. That’s how Mark Lowcock, the United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, described conditions in northwest Syria, based on eyewitness accounts from U.N. staff in and around Idlib province…” (Kritz, 2/25).

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More Than 9M People In Venezuela Food Insecure, Need Assistance, WFP Estimates Show

New Humanitarian: In Venezuela, the elderly are the ‘invisible victims’
“…The ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis in the country — once one of the richest in South America — is making it nearly impossible for [elderly Venezuelans] to scrape by, stay healthy, and receive care and support in their old age…” (Rojo, 2/25).

U.N. News: One in three Venezuelans not getting enough to eat, U.N. study finds
“Hyperinflation in Venezuela means that roughly one-third of the population — more than nine million people — do not get enough to eat and are in need of assistance, according to estimates published … by the World Food Programme (WFP)…” (2/25).

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Dozens Of HIV-Positive Women Forcibly Sterilized After Giving Birth At Public Hospitals In South Africa, Report Says

AP: Dozens of HIV-positive S. African women forcibly sterilized
“A scathing new report reveals that dozens of HIV-positive women were forced or coerced into sterilization after giving birth at public hospitals in South Africa. The Commission for Gender Equality’s report this week says it investigated complaints by at least 48 women of ‘cruel, torturous or inhumane and degrading treatment’ at the hospitals. At times it occurred when women were in labor…” (Magome, 2/25).

Bloomberg: Women With HIV Are Being Forcibly Sterilized in South Africa
“…The investigation was prompted by a 2015 complaint by the non-profit Women’s Legal Centre, which documented 48 cases where women were allegedly either forced or coerced into agreeing to the procedure while giving birth…” (Squazzin, 2/25).

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More News In Global Health

AP: U.N. Security Council approves resolution on Yemen sanctions (Lederer, 2/26).

AP: East Africa’s huge locust outbreak now spreads to Congo (Muhumuza, 2/25).

BBC News: Appeal for more funds to control locusts (2/26).

MedPage Today: A Doctor’s Story: Death and Hope in Syria (Firth, 2/25).

Reuters: Scottish parliament approves free sanitary products for all women (Howcroft, 2/25).

U.N. News: U.N. panel to rally global political will to tackle internal displacement crisis (2/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S., European Governments Should Apply Pressure On Russia To Allow Humanitarian Aid To Idlib, Editorial Says

Washington Post: Syria’s carnage nears a horrific climax
Editorial Board

“…According to the United Nations, some 900,000 people have fled a new offensive by forces of the regime of Bashar al-Assad and its Russian and Iranian allies since December. That includes an estimated 500,000 children. Most of these civilians are crammed into a narrow strip of territory near the Turkish border, which is sealed. … [Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan] appears to be hoping he can establish a safe zone stretching some 20 miles from the border and including the provincial capital, Idlib city. That would allow civilians to receive humanitarian aid and prevent the refugees from spilling into Turkey, which already harbors 3.6 million Syrians. The Russian government seems inclined to allow some kind of safe zone, though perhaps a much smaller one. … The Assad regime, however, is bent on recapturing all of Idlib, whatever the human cost. And the relentless pattern of the Syrian war has been Russian promises to control Damascus, followed by a failure to do so. That’s why it is urgent that the United States and European governments apply concerted pressure to Mr. Putin now to curtail the offensive, enforce a cease-fire, and allow full humanitarian access to Idlib. They should make clear to Moscow that it will pay a substantial price — in the form of new sanctions and a reversal of European moves toward better relations — if the carnage does not cease” (2/26).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss COVID-19 Outbreak, Response

Bloomberg: To Defeat Coronavirus, Win the Containment Battle
Mark Buchanan, physicist, science writer, and author (2/25).

Foreign Policy: The Coronavirus Could Finally Kill the Wild Animal Trade
Lindsey Kennedy, journalist and video producer, and Nathan Paul Southern, freelance reporter, both in Cambodia (2/25).

The Hill: What coronavirus teaches us for preventing the next big bio threat
Ellen P. Carlin, assistant research professor at the Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security and director of Georgetown’s Global Infectious Disease graduate program, and Jeff Schlegelmilch, deputy director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and author (2/24).

STAT: In the race for coronavirus vaccines, don’t leave pregnant women behind
Carleigh Krubiner, policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and associate faculty at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics; Ruth R. Faden, founder and inaugural director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics; and Ruth A. Karron, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Immunization Research and founder of the Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative (2/25).

Washington Post: Is this the week that Trump panics about covid-19?
Daniel W. Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (2/24).

Washington Post: Coronavirus will test whether the planet can unite in the face of a global crisis
David Ignatius, columnist at the Washington Post (2/25).

Washington Post: Letters to the Editor: We need sustained funding to fight pandemics
Jerry Martin, former director of the USAID-funded Preparedness and Response (P&R) project (2/25).

Washington Post: Behind our sluggish response to coronavirus, an unnecessary battle over funding
Greg Sargent, writer at the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog, and Paul Waldman, opinion writer for the Plum Line blog (2/25).

WBUR: The U.S. Is Well Suited To Fight Coronavirus, But Only If We Fund Science
Pranay Sinha, infectious diseases fellow at Boston University School of Medicine (2/25).

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More Opinions In Global Health

The Conversation: Social norms stop Ethiopian girls from making safe choices about pregnancy
Kate Pincock, research associate at the University of Oxford, and Nicola Jones, research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (2/24).

Devex: Opinion: Data science — the new normal in public health management
John Sargent, co-founder of BroadReach (2/26).

The Guardian: Women can be protected from cervical cancer — so why aren’t we doing it?
Nelly R. Mugo, chief research officer at Kenya Medical Research Institute (2/24).

The Hill: What if it were you? Fighting the ‘globalization of indifference’ on the refugee crisis
Michel Landry, professor of orthopedic surgery and global health at Duke University (2/23).

Inter Press Service: SDGs Corporate Tracker to Monitor Progress of U.N.’s Development Agenda
Peter Paul van de Wijs, chief external affairs officer at the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) (2/21).

Orlando Sentinel: Vaccines in developing countries save U.S. lives | Commentary
Banke Aluko, student at UCF and volunteer with the ONE Campaign (2/21).

STAT: Will the newest pill for HIV prevention fuel progress — or profits?
Douglas Krakower, infectious disease physician and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School; Kenneth Katz, dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center; and Julia L. Marcus, infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School (2/26).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Opinion: The opportunity to end the HIV epidemic is in our grasp — but no one knows about it
Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, and Deborah Gold, chief executive of National AIDS Trust (2/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

U.S. Reps. McCollum, Brooks Introduce Resolution In Support Of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance

Office of United States Congresswoman Betty McCollum: McCollum, Brooks Introduce Bipartisan Resolution in Support of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
“Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), co-chairs of the Global Health Caucus, have introduced a resolution in support of the live-saving work of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. H.Res.861 highlights Gavi’s twenty years of success in saving the lives of children in the world’s poorest countries by improving access to new and underutilized vaccines. The resolution affirms the United States’ continued support for Gavi’s work to end preventable maternal and child deaths, and encourages continued commitment and investment to Gavi…” (2/25).

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Gates Foundation CEO Reflects On Foundation's 20th Anniversary

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “The Optimist”: A letter from our CEO, Mark Suzman: Reflections to guide our next twenty years
Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reflects on the Gates Foundation’s 20th anniversary and the future of the foundation, writing, “I am convinced that with the right approaches and the right partnerships the foundation can have an even more profound impact over the next decades than it had in the previous two, and I promise to bring all the lessons I’ve learned in my life and my career to help build on the success of the past 20 years in the next 20. It is a humbling and exhilarating responsibility” (February 2020).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC's MMWR Publishes Update On Coronavirus Outbreak, Response In U.S.

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Update: Public Health Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak — United States, February 24, 2020
Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the Influenza Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) at CDC, and the CDC COVID-19 Response Team provide an update on the 2019 coronavirus outbreak, including the case count in the U.S. as of February 24 and CDC’s response efforts (2/25).

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From the Kaiser Family Foundation

February KFF Health Tracking Poll Gauges U.S. Public's Knowledge Of, Concerns About Coronavirus

KFF: The Public’s Awareness Of and Concerns About Coronavirus
“On December 31, 2019 in Wuhan, China the first cases of a new Coronavirus were reported. Over the span of two months, the virus — also known as COVID-19 to public health experts — has spread beyond Wuhan, across China, and around the world. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, only the 6th declaration of its kind in WHO history. Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared it a public health emergency for the United States on January 31, 2020. The February KFF Health Tracking Poll gauged the public’s knowledge of and concerns about the coronavirus in addition to exploring public opinion on how the outbreak is being addressed by the U.S. government…” (2/25).

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