KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Announces U.S. To Terminate Relationship With WHO, Redirect Funds; E.U., Global Health Experts Call For Reconsideration, Warn Of Potential Impacts

Financial Times: Trump declaration to terminate WHO relationship puzzles experts
“Donald Trump’s announcement on Friday that the U.S. would break its ties with the World Health Organization was characteristically blunt. But it left diplomats and legal experts wondering how the president’s pledge would be put into practice. Mr. Trump said on Friday: ‘[The U.S.] will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.’ But he did not say exactly how, when or on what terms the U.S. would extricate itself from an organization of which it has been a member since 1948, let alone what the consequences might be for either side…” (Stacey/Manson, 5/29).

The Hill: European Union asks U.S. to reconsider decision to cut ties with WHO
“The European Union (E.U.) is asking the United States to reconsider its decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization (WHO). ‘In the face of this global threat, now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions. Actions that weaken international results must be avoided,’ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the E.U.’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said in a statement Saturday…” (Moreno, 5/30).

Nature: What a U.S. exit from the WHO means for COVID-19 and global health
“…Because the United States became a member of the WHO through a joint resolution in 1948, Trump might need congressional approval to exit the agency, says Jennifer Kates, the director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C. But she adds that previous presidents were able to withdraw from treaties without Congress stepping in. ‘This is murky legal territory,’ she says. … Now, experts in health policy are contending with repercussions that could range from a resurgence of polio and malaria to barriers in the flow of information on COVID-19…” (Maxmen, 5/29).

Newsweek: GOP Congressman Says Trump’s Decision to Pull Out of WHO Helps China and Harms Global Health
“Texas Republican Congressman Will Hurd pleaded with President Donald Trump to reverse his Friday decision terminating the United States’ relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), with the GOP lawmaker saying the move only helps the Chinese Communist Party. Hurd penned an op-ed in The New York Times Friday, just hours after Trump announced ‘China has total control’ over the WHO and cut off all funding to the international health body. The congressman cautioned that ‘leaving the WHO sends the message that the world cannot count on the United States,’ while corroborating China’s aggressive disinformation campaign that has been aimed, in part, at exposing America’s lack of commitment to the international community. Hurd wrote that while WHO made mistakes in its response to the coronavirus spread, walking away from the organization will make it much harder to prevent the spread of future disease across the globe…” (Fearnow, 5/30).

Roll Call: Trump going ahead with pulling the US back from the World Health Organization
“…The announcement, which came during what had been billed as a news conference but featured no opportunity to ask the president questions, followed previous threats from Trump and top administration officials. ‘China has total control over the World Health Organization, despite only paying $40 million per year, compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year,’ Trump asserted Friday during an event largely about U.S. policy toward Hong Kong. There were no immediate details about where the money would be redirected, with another payment to the WHO expected in September. However, national security adviser Robert O’Brien suggested a few potential beneficiaries when speaking to reporters at the White House last week…” (Lesniewski/Clason, 5/29).

STAT: Experts warn of dire global health consequences if U.S. withdraws from the World Health Organization
“An American withdrawal from the World Health Organization could wreak profound damage on the global effort to eradicate polio and could undermine the world’s ability to detect and respond to disease threats, health experts warned. The experts, from the United States and beyond, are aghast at President Trump’s announced intention to leave the organization, which he publicly blames for not being tougher on China in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic — at a time when he himself was praising China’s unprecedented efforts to control the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The agency has not yet commented on Trump’s announcement…” (Branswell, 5/30).

Additional coverage of Trump’s announcement and global reaction is available from AFP, Foreign Policy, The Hill, NBC News, Newsweek, NPR (2), Reuters (2), STAT, UPI, U.S. News, Washington Post (2), and Xinhua.

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WHO Launches COVID-19 Technology Access Pool With Support Of 30 Nations, International Partners

Financial Times: Poorer countries join WHO call for virus patents to be shared
“Two dozen low-income countries have joined a World Health Organization push for the sharing of patents for coronavirus drugs and vaccines, but they lack support from powerful governments and large pharmaceutical groups. The WHO on Friday unveiled an initiative dubbed the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, or C-TAP, which aims to make treatments, vaccines and tests accessible to all…” (Mancini/Peel, 5/29).

U.N. News: COVID-19: Countries support ‘one-stop shop’ to share science and research
“Thirty countries and numerous international partners have underlined the need to make tests, treatments, and other technologies to fight COVID-19, available to people everywhere. … The U.N. health agency has described C-TAP as ‘a one-stop shop’ that will be voluntary and based on the principle of solidarity. WHO said it builds on the success of the Medicines Patent Pool in expanding access to treatments for HIV and the debilitating inflammatory liver disease, hepatitis. There are five key elements to the initiative, starting with public disclosure of gene sequences and data, as well as clinical trial results. Governments and research funders are also encouraged to include clauses in contracts with pharmaceutical companies that stress equitable distribution and publication of trial data. Additionally, treatments and vaccines should be licensed to both large and small producers. C-TAP also promotes open innovation models and technology transfers that increase local manufacturing and supply…” (5/29).

Additional coverage of WHO’s launch of C-TAP and a media briefing organized by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) is available from CIDRAP News, Reuters, and VOA.

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Global COVID-19 Total Case Number Rises Above 6M; Public Health Systems Strain Under Pandemic, Especially In Developing Countries Facing Other Disease Outbreaks

CIDRAP News: Global COVID-19 total passes 6 million
“The global COVID-19 total topped 6 million cases today, as Brazil’s cases hit new daily highs and as large numbers continue to be reported in other large countries such as the United States, Russia, and India. It took only 9 days for illnesses to rise from 5 million to 6 million, which is 3 days less than it took for totals to rise from 3 million to 4 million, and from 4 million to 5 million. The global total is at 6,014,117, and 367,627 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard…” (Schnirring, 5/30).

New York Times: In Some Nations, Coronavirus Is Only One of Many Outbreaks
“…As the coronavirus pandemic stalks the globe, some nations, particularly in the developing world, find themselves under extraordinary strain as they simultaneously contend with other outbreaks, chronic public health problems and challenges posed by government mismanagement, poverty and armed conflict. The all-consuming demands of the coronavirus, officials fear, could divert government focus and open the door to a possible resurgence of other illnesses…” (Semple, 5/30).

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As Some Nations Reopen Schools Amid Pandemic, Experts Worry Vulnerable Children May Not Return To Classrooms

The Guardian: ‘Many girls have been cut’: how global school closures left children at risk
“Covid-19 school closures have exposed children around the world to human rights abuses such as forced genital mutilation, early marriage, and sexual violence, child protection experts say. Globally, the World Bank estimates that 1.6 billion children were locked out of education by Covid-19. As schools in England and around the world prepare to reopen this week, NGOs warn that millions of the world’s most vulnerable children may never return to the classroom, and say that after decades fighting for girls’ education the pandemic could cause gender equality in education to be set back decades…” (Grant, 6/1).

Wall Street Journal: Is It Safe to Reopen Schools? These Countries Say Yes
“A number of countries that have reopened schools in the past two months have reported no resulting increase in coronavirus infection rates, an encouraging sign for authorities around the world that are contemplating how and when to safely bring children back to the classroom. Authorities in many hard-hit countries such as Italy and the U.S. have so far resisted reopening schools for fear of triggering an increase in infections. … Researchers and European authorities said the absence of any notable clusters of infection in reopened elementary schools so far suggested that children aren’t significant spreaders of the new coronavirus in society…” (Pancevski et al., 5/31).

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More Than 120 Medical Professionals Question Data Used In HCQ Lancet Study, Call For Independent Review

The Guardian: Covid-19 study on hydroxychloroquine use questioned by 120 researchers and medical professionals
“More than 120 researchers and medical professionals from around the world have written an open letter to the editor of the Lancet raising serious concerns about a large and widely publicized global study that prompted the World Health Organization to halt several Covid-19 clinical trials. On Thursday Guardian Australia revealed that the Australian data in the study, published last week, did not reconcile with health department records or databases…” (Davey, 5/29).

New York Times: Scientists Question Validity of Major Hydroxychloroquine Study
“…In an open letter to The Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, and the paper’s authors, the scientists asked the journal to provide details about the provenance of the data and called for the study to be independently validated by the World Health Organization or another institution. A spokeswoman for Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra, the Harvard professor who was the paper’s lead author, said on Friday that the study’s authors had asked for an independent academic review and audit of their work. … The experts who wrote The Lancet also criticized the study’s methodology and the authors’ refusal to identify any of the hospitals that contributed patient data, or to name the countries where they were located. The company that owns the database is Surgisphere, based in Chicago…” (Rabin, 5/29).

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U.S. Sends Unproven COVID-19 Treatment HCQ To Brazil; Russia Set To Introduce COVID-19 Drug; India Begins To Open Amid Rising Cases; African Nations Struggle To Find Escaped Quarantine Patients

AFRICA

Global Press Journal: Defying Uganda’s Ban, Motorcycle Taxis Remain Lifeline for Patients (Segawa/Agiresaasi, 5/31).

The Guardian: African nations fail to find coronavirus quarantine escapees (Burke/Chingono, 5/31).

PRI: Coronavirus exposes Sudan’s broken health care system (Gikandi, 5/29).

Reuters: Some medics say they are muzzled in Egypt’s coronavirus response (5/29).

ASIA

AP: Nepal volunteers become local heroes during virus pandemic (Gurubacharya, 6/1).

AP: India cautiously opens up even as coronavirus cases rise (Saaliq, 6/1).

The Guardian: Patients share beds as coronavirus cases overwhelm Mumbai’s hospitals (Ellis-Petersen, 5/28).

EUROPE

Financial Times: Government defends decision to ease English lockdown restrictions (Pickard, 5/31).

Reuters: Russia’s PM says ‘grounds for cautious optimism’ in coronavirus fight (Korsunskaya/Marrow, 6/1).

Reuters: Exclusive: Russia to roll out its first approved COVID-19 drug next week (Osborn, 6/1).

LATIN AMERICA

AP: U.S. sends Brazil malaria drug unproven for COVID-19 treatment (5/31).

The Guardian: Is Bolivia’s ‘interim’ president using the pandemic to outstay her welcome? (Blair/Bercerra, 5/31).

Reuters: Chile surpasses 1,000 coronavirus deaths, almost 100,000 cases confirmed (Cambero/Bronstein, 5/31).

Wall Street Journal: A Mayor Fights Covid-19 With Free Food as Colombia Faces Rising Toll (Otis, 5/30).

MIDDLE EAST

AFP: Iran says virus cases surpass 150,000 (5/31).

NORTH AMERICA

AP: U.S. cities fear protests may fuel new wave of virus outbreaks (Melley et al., 5/31).

The Atlantic: The Protests Will Spread the Coronavirus (Meyer, 6/1).

Reuters: Lack of protective gear leaves Mexican nurses battling pandemic in fear (Esposito/Oré, 5/30).

STAT: When did the coronavirus start spreading in the U.S.? Likely in January, CDC analysis suggests (Branswell, 5/29).

Washington Post: CDC chief defends failure to spot early coronavirus spread in U.S. (Sun/Achenbach, 5/29).

Washington Post: Canada’s Nunavut: A vast territory with few people — and no coronavirus (Coletta, 6/1).

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U.N. Significantly Reduces Aid Operations In War-Torn Yemen As COVID-19 Cases Increase

AP: U.N. forced to cut aid to Yemen, even as virus increases need
“Aid organizations are making an urgent plea for funding to shore up their operations in war-torn Yemen, saying they have already been forced to stop some of their work even as the coronavirus rips through the country. Some 75% of U.N. programs in Yemen have had to shut their doors or reduce operations. The global body’s World Food Programme had to cut rations in half and U.N.-funded health services were reduced in 189 out of 369 hospitals nationwide…” (Michael/Hyde, 6/1).

Additional coverage of humanitarian aid efforts and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Yemen is available from New York Times and U.N. News (2).

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Trump Postpones G7 Summit, Calls Current Group Of Countries 'Outdated'

Reuters: Trump postpones G7 summit, seeks to add countries to invitation list
“U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would postpone a Group of Seven summit he had hoped to hold next month until September or later and expand the list of invitees to include Australia, Russia, South Korea, and India. Speaking to reporters on Air Force One during his return to Washington from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Trump said the G7, which groups the world’s most advanced economies, was a ‘very outdated group of countries’ in its current format. ‘I’m postponing it because I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world,’ Trump said…” (Holland, 5/30).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Watch: Peter Sands’ ‘nightmare’ coronavirus scenario (Kumar, 6/1).

Devex: Q&A: What early data says about gendered impacts of COVID-19 (Rogers, 6/1).

Devex: Preparing for a disaster in the middle of a pandemic (Root, 6/1).

Devex: Steps for creating water solutions that will last (Root, 6/1).

The Hill: COVID-19 shows signs of long-term harm in some recovered patients (Wilson, 5/31).

National Geographic: Snakebites are ‘neglected’ health crisis in Africa (Nicolon, 5/28).

NPR: Among The 1st To Get A Polio Vaccine, Peter Salk Says Don’t Rush A COVID-19 Shot (Myre, 5/30).

Reuters: Scientists hunt pandemic hotspots in race to test vaccines (Kelland et al., 6/1).

Reuters: People more important than the economy, pope says about Covid crisis (Pullella, 5/31).

Reuters: J&J’s Ebola vaccine wins E.U. regulatory panel backing (Chander/Maddipatla, 5/28).

STAT: Anthony Fauci on Covid-19 reopenings, vaccines, and moving at ‘warp speed’ (Branswell, 6/1).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Families are major source of abuse for gay women, trans people, report says (Greenhalgh, 5/31).

U.N. News: Why business needs to address the social impacts of COVID-19: an interview with Lise Kingo, U.N. Global Compact chief (6/1).

U.N. News: Nine in 10 smokers start before they are 18 years old, warns WHO (5/29).

VOA: Killing of Seven Health Workers, Shop Owner Shocks Somalia (Hassan et al., 5/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss President Trump's Decision To Withdraw U.S. From WHO, Potential Impact On Global Health, U.S. Global Standing

Arab News: America’s withdrawal from the WHO is unhealthy for us all
Cornelia Meyer, business consultant, macro-economist, and energy expert (5/30).

CNN: The real cost of Trump’s WHO pullout
Hajer Naili, communications and media manager at the Soufan Center (5/31).

Foreign Policy: Trump Scapegoats China and WHO — and Americans Will Suffer
Laurie Garrett, former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (5/30).

New York Times: Leaving the WHO Shows Poor Leadership
Will Hurd (R-Tex.) (5/29).

POLITICO: Why Ditching the WHO Will Backfire on Trump
John A. Tures, professor of political science at LaGrange College (5/30).

STAT: By cutting ties with the World Health Organization, Trump endangers global public health
Sandro Galea, physician, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, and chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (5/31).

Xinhua: Walking away from WHO, Washington is drifting to antithesis of humanity
Wang Lei, writer for Xinhua (5/30).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Response, Including Vaccine Development

Bloomberg: Pandemic Is an Opportunity for Developing Nations
Mihir Sharma, Bloomberg Opinion columnist (5/30).

Devex: COVID-19 as the catalyst for NGOs’ digital transformation
Rakesh Bharania, director of humanitarian impact data at Salesforce.org (5/29).

Foreign Policy: Leaders Can’t Lift Lockdowns Without Public Trust
Avtar Singh, writer and editor at Foreign Policy (5/31).

The Lancet: The starting line for COVID-19 vaccine development
Nelson Lee, professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alberta’s Department of Medicine, and Allison McGeer, professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto (5/28).

NPR: The Ghosts Of Colonialism Are Haunting The World’s Response To The Pandemic
Abraar Karan, internal medicine physician and clinical fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Mishal Khan, associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (5/29).

Project Syndicate: How to Reset the U.S. Pandemic Response
Roman Frydman, professor of economics at New York University, and Gernot Wagner, clinical associate professor at New York University (6/1).

Project Syndicate: Ethiopia’s Unconventional COVID-19 Response
Arkebe Oqubay, senior minister and special adviser to the prime minister of Ethiopia and distinguished fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (5/29).

Project Syndicate: Globalizing the Fight Against the Pandemic
Carlos Alvarado Quesada, president of Costa Rica, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO (5/29).

Wall Street Journal: A Fast Coronavirus Vaccine, Without Cutting Corners
Luciana Borio, vice president at In-Q-Tel, and Scott Gottlieb, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and board member of Pfizer and Illumina (5/31).

Washington Post: In India, the pandemic is cover for Modi’s war on journalists
Jason Rezaian, Global Opinions writer at the Washington Post (6/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Health Community Addresses U.S. Decision To Withdrawal From WHO

Global Health Council: Global Health Council Urges Trump Administration to Reconsider Withdrawal from WHO (5/29).

Think Global Health: Why the WHO?
Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation and adjunct professor at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and colleagues (5/29).

U.N. Dispatch: The Trump Administration’s Decision to Cut Ties With the World Health Organization Will Make the Coronavirus Pandemic Much Worse
Mark Leon Goldberg, executive editor of U.N. Dispatch (5/29).

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Blog Posts, Releases Address Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic

BMJ Opinion: Andy Cowper: The public health of politics and the politics of public health
Andy Cowper, freelance journalist and editor of Health Policy Insight (5/29).

Brookings: Fiscal policy for COVID-19 and beyond
Rabah Arezki, chief economist for the Middle East and North Africa Region at the World Bank, and Shanta Devarajan, professor of the practice of development at Georgetown University (5/30).

Global Citizen: Why Diagnostic Testing Is Crucial in the Fight Against COVID-19
Catherine Caruso, editorial intern at Global Citizen (5/29).

ONE: Without a global response, we risk a world of tremendous inequality
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, chair of the GAVI board and former finance minister of Nigeria (5/29).

Think Global Health: Bridging the Data Divide in COVID-19
Tom Achoki, co-founder of Mass Sciences and the Africa Institute for Health Policy Foundation (5/27).

Think Global Health: Ten Million Tests in Ten Days
Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations (5/28).

Think Global Health: Covid-19 and Tobacco: Unmasking the Smoke Screen
José Luis Castro, president & CEO of Vital Strategies, and Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, president of the Union for International Cancer Control and special adviser to Vital Strategies (5/29).

Think Global Health: Coronavirus in Nigeria: A Case for Community Engagement
Evaborhene Aghogho Nelson, global health and development postgraduate fellow at University College London (5/26).

UNAIDS: “We cannot provide only HIV services while sex workers are hungry”: Thai community organization steps in (6/1).

Wellcome: While we wait for a COVID-19 vaccine, let’s not forget the importance of the vaccines we already have
Charlie Weller, head of the vaccines programme at Wellcome (6/1).

World Economic Forum: Thousands of health professionals call on world leaders to prioritize a greener future, post-pandemic
Harry Kretchmer, senior writer with Formative Content (5/28).

WHO: COVID-19 significantly impacts health services for noncommunicable diseases (6/1).

WHO: International community rallies to support open research and science to fight COVID-19 (5/29).

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From the U.S. Government

State Department, USAID Release Fact Sheet, Remarks On U.S. Efforts To Respond To COVID-19 Globally

U.S. Department of State: Update: The United States Continues to Lead the Global Response to COVID-19
This fact sheet provides an update on U.S. efforts to respond to COVID-19 globally, noting, “Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. Government has committed more than $1 billion in State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance specifically aimed at helping governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) fight the pandemic. This funding, provided by Congress, will save lives by improving public health education; protecting healthcare facilities; and increasing laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity in more than 120 countries” (5/29).

USAID: Remarks for Deputy Administrator Glick’s Conversation with Hudson Institute on America’s Foreign Assistance Leadership
In remarks during a conversation with the Hudson Institute on America’s foreign assistance leadership, USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick discussed U.S. assistance for global health and COVID-19 (5/29).

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U.S., Brazil Provide Joint Statement On Health Cooperation During COVID-19

White House: Joint Statement From the United States of America and the Federative Republic of Brazil Regarding Health Cooperation
This joint statement from the U.S. and Brazil discusses health cooperation between the two countries and notes, “The American and Brazilian people stand in solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus. … [A]s a demonstration of that solidarity, we are announcing the United States Government has delivered two million doses of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to the people of Brazil. The United States will also soon be sending 1,000 ventilators to Brazil. … [I]n continuation of the two countries’ longstanding collaboration on health issues, we are also announcing a joint United States-Brazilian research effort that will include randomized controlled clinical trials. These trials will help further evaluate the safety and efficacy of [hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)] for both prophylaxis and the early treatment of the coronavirus” (5/31).

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FDA Approves Artesunate For Injection To Treat Severe Malaria

CDC: FDA Approval of Artesunate for Injection for Treatment of Severe Malaria
“Artesunate for InjectionTM was approved by the FDA on May 26, 2020 for treatment of severe malaria. … Previously, the only intravenous (IV) antimalarial available to treat severe malaria in the United States was investigational IV artesunate solely available from CDC through an expanded-use investigational new drug (IND) protocol. With FDA approval, and soon, commercial availability, hospitals will be able to stock IV artesunate for immediate treatment of patients with severe malaria to prevent poor outcomes such as death. Until Artesunate for Injection is commercially available, CDC will continue to make IV artesunate available through the IND protocol…” (5/28).

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From KFF

KFF's Fact Sheet On U.S. Government, WHO Available

KFF: The U.S. Government and the World Health Organization
This fact sheet provides information about the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. government funding and engagement with WHO (4/16).

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KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of June 1, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 have been added to the tracker (6/1).

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. KFF’s blog series “Coronavirus Policy Watch” is available here.

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