KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Presidents Trump, Xi Discuss Coronavirus Response As Death Toll Passes 600; Xi Declares 'People's War' On Virus

The Hill: Trump discusses coronavirus with China’s Xi
“President Trump on Thursday spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the coronavirus after officials said more than 600 people had died from the disease in China. ‘President Trump expressed confidence in China’s strength and resilience in confronting the challenge of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak,’ a White House spokesman said in a statement. ‘The two leaders agreed to continue extensive communication and cooperation between both sides.’ The correspondence marked the first publicized call between the two leaders since the outbreak began in the Wuhan province…” (Samuels, 2/6).

New York Times: China Tightens Wuhan Lockdown in ‘Wartime’ Battle With Coronavirus
“The Chinese authorities resorted to increasingly extreme measures in Wuhan on Thursday to try to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus, ordering house-to-house searches, rounding up the sick and warehousing them in enormous quarantine centers. The urgent, seemingly improvised steps come amid a worsening humanitarian crisis in Wuhan, one exacerbated by tactics that have left this city of 11 million with a death rate from the coronavirus of 4.1 percent as of Thursday — staggeringly higher than the rest of the country’s rate of 0.17 percent…” (Qin, 2/6).

Reuters: Xi says China has achieved ‘positive’ virus control results
“China has achieved ‘positive’ results in its prevention and control efforts in fighting the new coronavirus, President Xi Jinping told Saudi Arabia’s King Salman by telephone, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported. … China has declared a ‘people’s war’ on the virus and the whole nation is working as one to combat it, Xi said…” (Blanchard et al., 2/6).

Additional coverage of President Trump’s and President Xi’s comments on the coronavirus outbreak is available from Reuters (2) and VOA.

Link to individual story

Spread Of Novel Coronavirus Not Yet Peaked, WHO Warns

U.N. News: Slight fall in coronavirus infections ‘nothing to celebrate,’ says U.N. health agency
“A slight drop overnight in the number of people infected by the new coronavirus is welcome but ‘nothing to celebrate,’ a top U.N. health official said on Thursday. Dr. Michael Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, was speaking in Geneva…” (2/6).

Wall Street Journal: World Health Authorities Warn Virus Hasn’t Peaked After China’s Deadliest Day
“The World Health Organization said Thursday it was too early to declare a peak in the spread of the coronavirus, a day after China marked its deadliest day since the outbreak began. … The deaths and new cases have been concentrated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began, and the surrounding province of Hubei, an area of nearly 60 million people that has been quarantined…” (Lin et al., 2/6).

Link to individual story

Death Of Doctor Li Wenliang Who Warned Of Coronavirus Causes Uproar In Chinese Social Media, Promptly Shut Down By Censors; China To Investigate 'Issues'

AP: Doctor’s death unleashes mourning, fury at Chinese officials
“The death of a young doctor who was reprimanded for warning about China’s new virus triggered an outpouring Friday of praise for him and fury that communist authorities put politics above public safety. In death, Dr. Li Wenliang became the face of simmering anger at the ruling Communist Party’s controls over information and complaints that officials lie about or hide disease outbreaks, chemical spills, dangerous consumer products, or financial frauds…” (McDonald, 2/7).

New York Times: A Rare Online Revolt Emerges in China Over Death of Coronavirus Whistle-Blower
“…The Chinese public have staged what amounts to an online revolt after the death of a doctor, Li Wenliang, who tried to warn of a mysterious virus that has since killed hundreds of people in China, infected tens of thousands, and forced the government to corral many of the country’s 1.4 billion people. Since late Thursday, people from different backgrounds, including government officials, prominent business figures and ordinary online users, have posted numerous messages expressing their grief at the doctor’s death and their anger over his silencing by the police after sharing his knowledge about the new coronavirus. It has prompted a nationwide soul-searching under an authoritarian government that allows for little dissent…” (Yuan, 2/7).

NPR: China To Investigate After Whistleblower Doctor Dies From Coronavirus
“…After the announcement of his death Friday, China’s National Supervisory Commission, the country’s top anti-corruption body, said it would send a team to Wuhan to ‘thoroughly investigate issues related to Dr. Li Wenliang,’ according to the official Xinhua news agency. The report did not specify what exactly would be investigated, but it comes within a broader context of growing criticism of Beijing for its handling of the crisis. China was initially praised for being quicker to seek international help than it did during the SARS outbreak; however, in recent days it has become more clear that in the initial phase of the epidemic, authorities may have been less than transparent…” (Neuman et al., 2/7).

Washington Post: Doctor’s death from coronavirus sparks a digital uprising, rattling China’s leaders
“…Within hours of Li Wenliang’s death, millions of Chinese, homebound in the coronavirus crisis, tried to bypass censors to post the hashtag ‘We demand freedom of speech’ in a remarkable but short-lived digital uprising. The users were memorializing Li, who is considered the first to sound the alarm about the deadly new virus when he leaked a Dec. 30 document from his hospital confirming a diagnosis. On Jan. 1, he was detained and silenced by Wuhan police, who accused him of spreading lies. As the torrent of outrage built up overnight, the government in Beijing turned to a familiar tool — censorship — as it sought to prevent the already-staggering public health crisis from taking a volatile turn…” (Shih, 2/7).

Additional coverage of the doctor’s death and reaction is available from CNN, MedPage Today, New York Times, Reuters (2), Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

Link to individual story

U.S. News Examines How Global Media Covering Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

U.S. News & World Report: How Global Media Covers the Coronavirus
“From stories about a new global health crisis that have included misleading reports and even racist tones, the international media has struggled to make sense of the new strain of coronavirus, being both lauded and criticized by media experts. Analysts say coverage has been carried in areas not yet exposed to the virus and has included some racial stereotyping, while not enough attention has been focused on real stories shared by patients…” (Radu, 2/7).

Link to individual story

Medical Mask Market Flooded With Orders, Manufacturers Work To Keep Up, As Coronavirus Spreads

New York Times: As Coronavirus Spreads, Face Mask Makers Go Into Overdrive
“…The coronavirus outbreak has set off a run on protective masks across China and in other major cities. To curb the spread of the virus, the Chinese government has ordered citizens to don masks every time they go outside. Medical professionals say once used, a mask must be replaced with a fresh one, driving an explosion in demand. Grim scenes of people lined up for hours to get a protective face covering, only to be turned away when pharmacies run out, have become familiar…” (Alderman, 2/6).

Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Outbreak Strains Global Medical-Mask Market
“Chinese officials are buying up medical masks in the virus-wracked country from factories that typically supply hospitals around the world, forcing manufacturers to boost output globally and hospitals to ration supplies. … China is one of the world’s top producers of medical masks and other gear. Now officials there are directing much of that supply to the front lines of the outbreak, leaving customers in the U.S. and other countries to look elsewhere for masks as global supplies tighten…” (Hufford et al., 2/6).

Link to individual story

U.S., China Officials Spar Over Trump Administration Official's Allegations China's Involvement In Africa CDC Headquarters Meant To 'Steal Data'

Financial Times: U.S. warns over Chinese ‘spying’ on African disease control center
“The Trump administration has cited concerns over Beijing’s scientific spying program as the reason it wants to block a Chinese plan to build an $80m headquarters for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Ethiopia, amid growing competition for influence in the continent. ‘It’s a threat to Africa. Africa has vast amounts of genomic data and the Chinese want to build the CDC to eventually steal the data from all the other centers,’ an administration official told the Financial Times, referring to five regional Africa CDC hubs, some of which were built by the U.S. … The Obama administration reached a 2016 agreement with Beijing to jointly support the Africa CDC and strengthen links between Chinese, African and American health experts. But this co-operation has withered under the Trump administration as the two countries clashed over trade…” (Manson/Pilling, 2/6).

Xinhua: China refutes U.S. official’s claims of China ‘stealing Africa’s genomic data’
“China on Friday refuted the comments of a U.S. official on China’s public health support to Africa, calling the comments ‘ridiculous,’ according to a Foreign Ministry spokesperson. … ‘This is just as ridiculous as the recent allegations by the U.S. side that China is building the African Union conference center to steal their data,’ spokesperson Hua Chunying said at an online news briefing, adding it shows some people in the United States consistently use their own mindset to think of others. She said the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic had revealed the poor condition of Africa’s public health system, and Africa hoped that the international community would help it build the Africa CDC…” (2/7).

Link to individual story

Former DFID Head Penny Mordaunt Says Department Should Take 'Strategic Lead' From FCO In Chatham House Discussion

Devex: DFID should take ‘strategic lead’ from FCO, says Mordaunt
“The U.K. Department for International Development should take its ‘strategic lead’ from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, a former DFID secretary of state has said, as the department waits to learn whether it will remain independent. Penny Mordaunt, who led DFID from 2017-2019, also said official development assistance should be used to help achieve domestic objectives…” (Worley, 2/6).

Link to individual story

UNFPA Launches Appeal For $683M To Reach 48M Women, Girls, Young People In 57 Countries In 2020

Xinhua: U.N. reproductive health agency seeks 683 mln USD for 2020
“The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Thursday launched an appeal for 683 million U.S. dollars for 2020 to provide life-saving reproductive health and protection services to 48 million women, girls, and young people in 57 countries. The targeted population includes 4 million pregnant women affected by conflict, war, or natural disasters, according to the appeal…” (2/7).

Link to individual story

More News In Global Health

CNBC: How international travelers can stay safe during viral outbreak (Day, 2/6).

CNN: All of its neighbors have it, so why hasn’t North Korea reported any coronavirus cases? (Berlinger/Seo, 2/6).

IPS: Vegetables Rot in Food Markets across Zimbabwe While Half the Population Faces Food Insecurity (Banda, 2/6).

New York Times: China Begins Testing an Antiviral Drug in Coronavirus Patients (Grady, 2/6).

New York Times: Africa, Intertwined With China, Fears Coronavirus Outbreak (Marks, 2/6).

Reuters: Court case of 47 Nigerian men charged under homosexuality law delayed again (George, 2/6).

Reuters: Aid to Houthi-controlled Yemen to be cut back over risk it can be diverted — sources (Barrington, 2/6).

SciDev.Net: Antibiotic resistance not just a biological problem (Broom, 2/6).

Science: Combo of two HIV vaccines fails its big test (Cohen, 2/7).

U.N. News: Central African Republic: One year after peace deal, a ‘long, steep’ road ahead to ensure child rights protections (2/6).

Link to individual story

Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

Barron’s: Coronavirus: The Latest Problem Big Pharma Won’t Solve
Ellen ‘t Hoen, lawyer and director of Medicines Law & Policy (2/7).

Bloomberg: As Coronavirus Spreads, So Does Fake News
Bhaskar Chakravorti, dean of global business at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and founding executive director of Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context (2/5).

Devex: Opinion: Africa is not fully ready for coronavirus
Amanda McClelland, senior vice president of the prevent epidemics team at Resolve to Save Lives (2/6).

Financial Times: Coronavirus shows risk of Trump cuts to health spending
Gillian Tett, chair of the Editorial Board and editor-at-large at the Financial Times (2/6).

Link to individual story

Opinion Piece Calls For Repeal Of Mexico City Policy

The Hill: We must repeal the Global Gag Rule to protect girls’ and women’s lives
Terry McGovern, Harriet and Robert H. Heilbrunn professor and chair at the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University

“…[The Mexico City policy] directly violates the national sovereignty of countries receiving U.S. global health assistance ‘to decide for themselves.’ … A 2019 study in The Lancet found that, instead of reducing abortion, the gag rule actually caused a 40 percent increase in a country’s typical abortion rate, a 14 percent decrease in the use of contraception and a 12 percent increase in pregnancies. … But the administration does not talk about these connections. … We need to push back … and disrupt this administration’s attempt to distort established principles of public health and human rights. The women and girls of the world deserve better” (2/6).

Link to individual story

From the Global Health Policy Community

Experts Discuss How Nations Can Prevent Spread Of Coronavirus, Countries Most Vulnerable To Economic Impacts Of Outbreak

Johns Hopkins University’s “Hub”: Experts Discuss Coronavirus and How To Prevent The Spread of Illness
“Johns Hopkins University experts discussed what individuals and institutions can do to prepare for and prevent the spread of novel coronavirus as part of a wide-ranging discussion on the outbreak livestreamed [this week] from the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. Brian Simpson, editor of Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health Magazine, moderated the discussion and read questions submitted by an audience primarily made up of Hopkins alumni and trustees…” (Cruickshank, 2/5).

Overseas Development Institute: Economic vulnerabilities to the coronavirus: top countries at risk
Sherillyn Raga, senior research officer in ODI’s International Economic Development Group, discusses a new ODI paper that examines the transmission channels of coronavirus and identifies countries that are most vulnerable to the economic impacts of the outbreak. Raga also highlights three recommendations on how countries can address the outbreak (2/5).

Link to individual story

ODI Paper Examines Evidence-Informed Decision-Making For Health Policy In LMICs

Overseas Development Institute: Measuring evidence-informed decision-making processes in low- and middle-income countries
In a briefing paper, Anne Buffardi, senior research fellow at ODI, and colleagues discuss evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) in the international development sector, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. The authors write, “This brief focuses on health policy and characterizes the evidence base on EIDM, identifies specific measurement challenges, and discusses considerations for the design of future assessments” (February 2020).

Link to individual story

UNFPA Action Plan Aims To Reach 48M Women, Girls, Young People In Humanitarian Crises In 2020

UNFPA: Action plan seeks to reach 48 million women and girls in humanitarian crises
This post discusses the UNFPA’s efforts to address the health needs of women and girls living through humanitarian crises, highlighting a recently released report that discusses priorities for UNFPA’s global humanitarian action and provides an overview of the organization’s 2019 achievements. The post notes, “In 2020, UNFPA plans to reach an estimated 48 million women, girls, and young people, including 4 million pregnant women, in 57 countries” (2/6).

Link to individual story

Professors Outline Global AMR Surveillance Plan Using Human Sewage

Science: Using sewage for surveillance of antimicrobial resistance
Frank M. Aarestrup, professor at the Technical University of Denmark, and Mark E. J. Woolhouse, professor at the Usher Institute, discuss challenges to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance and outline a plan for a global AMR surveillance system using human sewage (2/7).

Link to individual story

Obesity-Related Diseases Among Top 3 Killers In Most Parts Of World, World Bank Report Says

World Bank: Obesity-Related Diseases Among Top Three Killers in Most Countries, World Bank Says
“Long believed to be a problem exclusive to high-income countries, evidence shows that over 70 percent of the world’s 2 billion overweight and obese individuals live in low- or middle-income countries. Faced with increasing disability, mortality, health care costs, and lower productivity, obesity is a growing concern for all countries regardless of income level, says a new World Bank report launched [on Thursday]. … The report … states that obesity-related diseases are now among the top three killers across the globe, except in sub-Saharan Africa…” (2/6).

Link to individual story

Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger Experience High Levels Of Hunger Due To Violence, Climate Change

U.N. Dispatch: There Has Been a Staggering Increase in Hunger in the Sahel Region. Violence and Climate Change are to Blame
Journalist Joanne Lu discusses the hunger crisis in the Sahel region, noting that there has been “an alarming hunger spike in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger that could put 14.4 million people at risk of food security in West Africa this year. … According to the U.N., the number of people facing a critical lack of food in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger … spiked over the last year due to violence and climate change that have threatened people’s already fragile livelihoods and forced them to migrate” (2/5).

Link to individual story

From the U.S. Government

CDC MMWR Article Describes U.S. Public Health Response To, Provides Clinical Guidance For Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Initial Public Health Response and Interim Clinical Guidance for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak — United States, December 31, 2019-February 4, 2020
In this report, members of the CDC 2019-nCoV CDC Response describe the novel coronavirus outbreak, the epidemiology of the first U.S. cases, the U.S. public health response, laboratory and diagnostic support, and clinical and infection control guidance (2/7).

Link to individual story