KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Media Outlets Report On U.S. Relationship With WHO, Influence Of Former Director-General Margaret Chan

Bloomberg Law: U.S. Role at Risk in Next Flu Vaccine With WHO Withdrawal
“The CDC could lose the ability to select next year’s flu vaccine if the Trump administration follows through with terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization. ‘The selection of the influenza vaccine every year is a very detailed process by which stakeholders sit around the table and look at data from around the world. If the U.S. isn’t at that table, Americans lose out and are less safe,’ said Charles Holmes, co-director of the Georgetown University Center for Innovation in Global Health, said Friday during a media briefing by the Infectious Diseases Society of America…” (Baumann, 6/12).

Globe and Mail: Margaret Chan reshaped the WHO and brought it closer to China
“…In late 2006, [Margaret Chan] won a resounding victory after a leadership campaign heavily backed by China, which included [then Chinese President Hu Jintao] writing a personal letter of recommendation. Dr. Chan went on to lead the WHO for a decade, a time in which she reshaped the organization and nurtured its relationship with China, a connection that has come under intense scrutiny in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Loudest among the critics has been U.S. President Donald Trump, who pulled funding from the organization and accused it of bending to Chinese dictates to ‘mislead the world’ about the threat of the virus. The WHO has shown ‘an alarming lack of independence,’ Mr. Trump has said. Dr. Chan is no longer at the WHO, and her defenders and former colleagues call her a woman of integrity who showed no bias toward China…” (Vanderklippe, 6/12).

Newsweek: Alex Azar Says China ‘Concealed’ Coronavirus, WHO ‘Failed’ to ‘Demand Accountability’
“Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), pinned blame for the COVID-19 pandemic on the Chinese government and the World Health Organization (WHO) while speaking to reporters on Friday. Azar made the remarks during a visit to Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he spoke about efforts to combat the coronavirus while accompanied by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. ‘A novel coronavirus like this, a highly transmissible but very severe disorder that spreads, now we know, no thanks to the Chinese for concealing it, asymptomatic transmission makes this a particularly perplexing and dangerous virus to be dealing with,’ Azar said during a news conference…” (Slisco, 6/13).

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AstraZeneca Signs Agreement With European Vaccine Group To Supply Up To 400M Doses; CEPI CEO Says Scarcity, 'Vaccine Nationalism' Biggest Challenges To Access; Research Continues Into Experimental Vaccines

Devex: CEPI CEO: Scarcity, ‘vaccine nationalism’ biggest barriers for COVID-19 vaccine access
“Global politics and vaccine scarcity are the biggest challenges to ensuring that a future COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the world’s poorest countries, according to Richard Hatchett, CEO at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. ‘Managing the scarcity of a vaccine in a context that is highly politically charged is the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge to global access and equity and equitable access for developing countries is a phenomenon that I’ve sometimes referred to as “vaccine nationalism,”‘ he told Devex President and Editor-in-chief Raj Kumar during a virtual event Thursday…” (Saldinger, 6/12).

Reuters: AstraZeneca agrees to supply Europe with 400 mln doses of COVID-19 vaccine
“AstraZeneca Plc said on Saturday it signed a contract with European governments to supply the region with its potential vaccine against the coronavirus, the British drugmaker’s latest deal to pledge its drug to help combat the pandemic. The contract is for up to 400 million doses of the vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, the company said, adding that it was looking to expand manufacturing of the vaccine, which it said it would provide for no profit during the pandemic. … The deal is the first contract signed by Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), a group formed by France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands to secure vaccine doses for all member states as soon as possible…” (6/13).

Science: ‘It’s really complicated.’ United States and others wrestle with putting COVID-19 vaccines to the test
“A Chinese company will turn to Brazil for help. The World Health Organization (WHO) is adopting a strategy forged in a war zone during an Ebola outbreak. And the Trump administration plans to lean on existing U.S. infrastructure for tackling HIV and flu. These are some of the disparate strategies about to be employed in the next and most important stage of the COVID-19 vaccine race: the large-scale, placebo-controlled human trials needed to prove which of the more than 135 candidates are safe and effective…” (Cohen, 6/12).

Additional coverage of the race to develop a novel coronavirus vaccine is available from Bloomberg (2), NBC, POLITICO, Reuters, and Washington Times.

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U.N. Health Experts Express Concern Over Indirect Effects Of COVID-19 On Women, Children, Youth, Call For More Effort To Ensure Health Care

Devex: Maternal health and COVID-19: The race to avert a long-term crisis
“Disruptions to maternal health services over the last few months could endanger the lives of expectant mothers long after the COVID-19 pandemic. While there is still a lack of official data, anecdotal evidence suggests that the global health crisis is already having a devastating effect on pregnant women. Concerted efforts are needed now to ensure pregnancies are safe and wanted and to save lives, according to several sexual and reproductive health experts…” (Smith, 6/12).

U.N. News: Health experts concerned about indirect effects of COVID-19 on women and youth
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate, the World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about its impact on women, children, and young people. ‘The indirect effects of COVID-19 on these groups may be greater than the number of deaths due to the virus itself,’ agency chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday. The pandemic has overwhelmed health systems in many parts of the world, which means women may be at greater risk of dying from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Early evidence also suggests that people in their teens and 20s are at increased risk of depression and anxiety, online harassment, physical and sexual violence, and unintended pregnancies…” (6/12).

Additional coverage of the U.N.’s comments on women, children, and youth is available from New York Times, Reuters, VOA, and Xinhua.

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WHO Urges Resumption Of Childhood Immunization Programs After Suspensions Due To COVID-19 Lead To Rise In Other Diseases

New York Times: Slowing the Coronavirus Is Speeding the Spread of Other Diseases
“…This spring, after the World Health Organization and UNICEF warned that the pandemic could spread swiftly when children gathered for shots, many countries suspended their inoculation programs. Even in countries that tried to keep them going, cargo flights with vaccine supplies were halted by the pandemic and health workers diverted to fight it. Now, diphtheria is appearing in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Cholera is in South Sudan, Cameroon, Mozambique, Yemen, and Bangladesh. A mutated strain of poliovirus has been reported in more than 30 countries. And measles is flaring around the globe, including in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Nigeria, and Uzbekistan. … As the pandemic lingers, the WHO and other international public health groups are now urging countries to carefully resume vaccination while contending with the coronavirus…” (Hoffman/Maclean, 6/14).

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COVID-19 Hitting Americas Hardest, WHO Says; Latin America Region's Peace Deteriorated Most Globally In 2019, Report Shows, Warns Of Pandemic's Further Impacts

Devex: Latin America sees largest decline in peacefulness as COVID-19 poses further threat
“South America is the region of the world where peace deteriorated most last year, followed by Central America and the Caribbean, according to the ‘Global Peace Index 2020’ report, with peacefulness expected to drop globally as a result of COVID-19. The index, an annual examination of peacefulness produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, ranks 163 countries using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators of peace in three domains: safety and security, ongoing conflict, and militarization. The organization also produced a brief examining the impact that the coronavirus will have on peace, predicting that most indicators are likely to worsen as the pandemic affects nearly all aspects of life…” (Welsh, 6/15).

Reuters: Coronavirus hitting the Americas hardest says World Health Organization
“The Americas are bearing the brunt of the global coronavirus pandemic at present, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, with North and South America currently having four of the 10 worst hit countries in the world. The disease was ‘highly active’ in Central and South America, the WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan said, highlighting problems in Brazil and Mexico…” (Revill/Nebehay, 6/12).

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Some Hospitals In Africa, Asia Become Overwhelmed With COVID-19 Patients; Questions Remain Over Russia's Coronavirus Numbers; Brazil, Peru Hit Hard; Cases Rise Again In Iran

AFRICA

Bloomberg: Africa Turns to Home Care With Virus Cases Inundating Hospitals (Ombok et al., 6/13).

U.N. News: Amidst COVID-19 challenges, U.N. ‘remains operational’ across Central Africa (6/12).

U.N. News: Amid COVID-19 and climate change, UNHCR appeals for $186 million for Sahel refugee and displacement crisis (6/12).

Reuters: Ghana’s president says health minister tested positive for COVID-19 (Akorlie, 6/14).

ASIA

BBC: Coronavirus: India to use 500 train carriages as wards in Delhi (6/14).

The Guardian: Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam… How some countries kept Covid at bay (Ratcliffe, 6/14).

New York Times: Pakistan’s Lockdown Ended a Month Ago. Now Hospital Signs Read ‘Full’ (ur-Rehman et al., 6/15).

Reuters: Thailand ends curfew, marks 21 days with no local coronavirus cases (Thepgumpanat, 6/15).

Reuters: Beijing imposes curbs as coronavirus returns to Chinese capital (Woo et al., 6/14).

Wall Street Journal: Beijing Coronavirus Outbreak Tied to Huge Market Sparks Resurgence Concerns (Hua/Zhang, 6/14).

EUROPE

AP: Russia’s low virus death toll still raises questions in West (Litvinova/Isachenkov, 6/14).

Axios: Russia doubles death toll amid scrutiny from WHO (Ayesh, 6/13).

The Guardian: The Lancet’s editor: ‘The U.K. response to coronavirus is the greatest science policy failure for a generation’ (Anthony, 6/14).

The Guardian: Coronavirus: WHO warns against further lifting of lockdown in England (Boffey, 6/15).

NPR: Prosecutors Question Italy’s Top Leaders Over Coronavirus Response (Poggioli, 6/12).

Reuters: Norway to halt COVID-19 track and trace app on data protection concerns (Klesty, 6/15).

Wall Street Journal: France’s Macron Seeks to Turn Page on Coronavirus (Kostov, 6/14).

LATIN AMERICA

Al Jazeera: Brazil’s coronavirus death toll now world’s second highest (6/13).

AP: In Peru, thousands of faces at Mass — none now alive (Briceño, 6/14).

AP: Sao Paulo cemeteries to dig up graves for coronavirus space (Pollastri/Savarese, 6/13).

AP: Colombia’s Medellin emerges as surprise COVID-19 pioneer (Armario, 6/13).

The Guardian: Chile’s health minister quits over government response to Covid-19 (Bartlett, 6/14).

New York Times: Virus Exposes Weak Links in Peru’s Success Story (Taj/Kurmanaev, 6/12).

Reuters: As quarantine wanes, Bogota’s medics brace for a spike in COVID cases (Cobb, 6/14).

Reuters: Brazil’s COVID-19 deaths surge past U.K., WHO says hospital system coping (Nebehay/Boadle, 6/12).

Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Hits Peru Hard Despite Strict Lockdown (Dube, 6/14).

Washington Post: Brazil faces the coronavirus disaster almost everyone saw coming (Tharoor, 6/15).

MIDDLE EAST

AFP: Iran daily virus deaths exceed 100 for first time in 2 months (6/14).

Xinhua: UNICEF sends COVID-19 medical protective kits to Yemen’s Sanaa (6/14).

NORTH AMERICA

AP: Grim blame game over virus deaths in besieged nursing homes (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/15).

Forbes: Fauci Says ‘Real Normality’ Unlikely For A Year As U.S. Continues Pandemic Slog (Voytko, 6/14).

Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus, Economic Toll Threaten to Worsen Black Mortality Rates (Adamy, 6/13).

Washington Post: CDC issues new covid-19 guidelines at a time of protests and rallies (Sun et al., 6/12).

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News Outlets Examine Pandemic's Impacts On Medical Journals' Peer Review Processes, Scientists' Research Priorities

New York Times: The Pandemic Claims New Victims: Prestigious Medical Journals
“One study promised that popular blood-pressure drugs were safe for people infected with the coronavirus. Another paper warned that anti-malaria drugs endorsed by President Trump actually were dangerous to these patients. The studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet, were retracted shortly after publication, following an outcry from researchers who saw obvious flaws. The hasty retractions, on the same day this month, have alarmed scientists worldwide who fear that the rush for research on the coronavirus has overwhelmed the peer review process and opened the door to fraud, threatening the credibility of respected medical journals just when they are needed most. Peer review is supposed to safeguard the quality of scientific research. … Critics have long worried that the safeguards are cracking, and have called on medical journals to operate with greater transparency…” (Rabin, 6/14).

Quartz: Science will never be the same after Covid-19
“Scientists, like the rest of us, have abruptly abandoned their plans in the face of coronavirus. … The urgency of the pandemic has pushed many institutions to cast aside their established priorities, discarding samples, and redirecting manufacturing plants in the rush to reallocate resources. Coronavirus has subsumed their work. Quartz spoke with four major global institutions to highlight how scientists are pivoting to focus on COVID-19. … All four teams have made huge sacrifices as they’ve redirected their efforts…” (Goldhill, 6/14).

Additional coverage on studies examining the effectiveness of masks and physical distancing, as well as labs’ preparedness for the novel coronavirus, is available from The Guardian, Quartz, and Washington Post.

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5 Foundations Announce Plans To Increase Funding To Help Ease Burden On Grantees Amid COVID-19

Devex: Will philanthropy’s flexible funding outlast the pandemic?
“The presidents of five leading foundations plan to increase rather than decrease their spending during the period of economic hardship brought on by COVID-19, they announced last week. The foundations were motivated by concerns over the impact that the pandemic has had on their grantees and the people they serve, said Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, who spearheaded the effort, which also includes the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. … The question is whether these commitments to increase funds, provide more flexibility, and limit asks of nonprofits will become part of the new normal — or whether funders will return to business as usual…” (Cheney, 6/15).

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Development Experts Raise Questions About Whether U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Fulfilling Transparency, Accountability Standards

Devex: Taking stock of DFC’s early months
“The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation has been officially operating for about six months, and while it has met some goals, other early actions have raised questions about how the agency is delivering on its development mandate and living up to its required transparency and accountability standards. … DFC has multiple legal requirements regarding transparency and data — including publishing project-level data and reporting to foreignassistance.gov — that it has not yet fulfilled. … DFC has also not released details about its new accountability mechanism…” (Saldinger, 6/15).

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NPR Examines Health Expenditures In Poorest, Richest Nations

NPR: Pandemic Perspective: What The 20 Poorest And Richest Countries Spend On Health Care
“Of the world’s poorest states, the Democratic Republic of the Congo spends the least per citizen on health care — $19 per person annually. And in Sierra Leone, the highest health spender south of the Sahara, it’s over triple — $66 per capita. That’s still just a fraction of how much the world’s wealthiest countries spend on each of their residents’ health. In the United States, the number is nearly $10,000. Half of the 20 richest countries spend at least $5,000 per person…” (Jingnan/Baskar, 6/13).

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WHO Predicts Quick Containment Of New DRC Ebola Outbreak Due To Experience, Available Therapeutics

VOA: WHO Expects to Quickly Tackle DR Congo’s New Ebola Outbreak
“The World Health Organization says lessons learned from previous outbreaks of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo and effective therapeutics will allow it to more quickly contain a new outbreak of the deadly disease in Équateur Province. U.N. health officials report there is no link between the Ebola outbreak declared June 1 in Mbandaka, Équateur Province, and the epidemic, which broke out nearly two years ago in DR Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces…” (Schlein, 6/13).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: New U.N. field hospitals will treat humanitarian workers with COVID-19 (Lieberman, 6/12).

New York Times: Mutation Allows Coronavirus to Infect More Cells, Study Finds. Scientists Urge Caution (Carey/Glanz, 6/12).

New York Times: The Scientist, the Air and the Virus (Parker-Pope, 6/12).

NPR: Locusts Are A Plague Of Biblical Scope In 2020. Why? And … What Are They Exactly? (Baskar, 6/14).

Reuters: U.S. FDA approves GSK unit’s drug to treat infants and children with HIV (Singh, 6/12).

Science: Could a global ‘observatory’ of blood help stop the next pandemic? (Bazell, 6/13).

U.N. News: U.N. chief in ‘support migrants’ plea, as remittances drop by 20 percent predicted (6/14).

U.N. News: Funding shortfall affecting critical water, sanitation services in Yemen (6/12).

VOA News: All 36 Nigerian Governors Declare State of Emergency Over Rapes and Violence (6/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including U.S. Global Response Efforts, Role Of Vaccines

The Conversation: Vaccinations skipped during COVID-19 shutdown may lead to outbreaks of other diseases
Derek Cameron, PhD Candidate in history at the University of Saskatchewan (6/14).

Devex: Opinion: A complex WASH sector could hamper Ghana’s fight against COVID-19
Vida Duti, country director of IRC Ghana (6/12).

The Hill: We cannot take our eye off China
Rep. Earl L. ‘Buddy’ Carter (R-Ga.) (6/12).

The Hill: 5 reasons Congress must act urgently on the global response to COVID-19
Chris Collins, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (6/13).

The Hill: COVID-19 vaccine in warp speed
Kaitlin Hunter, health policy adviser, and David Kendall, senior fellow for health and fiscal policy, both at Third Way (6/14).

New York Times: Don’t Leave the WHO. Strengthen It
Editorial Board (6/13).

New York Times: What the Pandemic Reveals About the Male Ego
Nicholas Kristof, opinion columnist at the New York Times (6/13).

Project Syndicate: Will COVID-19 Widen the Gender Justice Gap?
Sandie Okoro, senior vice president and general counsel for the World Bank Group and vice president for Compliance at the World Bank, and Paul Prettitore, senior specialist at the World Bank (6/12).

Scientific American: A Crucial Step Toward Preventing Wildlife-Related Pandemics
Dan Ashe, president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and John E. Scanlon, AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) and special envoy to the conservation organization African Parks (6/15).

Washington Post: The Trump administration has all but given up fighting the pandemic
Paul Waldman, opinion writer for the Plum Line blog at Washington Post (6/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Statements Highlight Health System Strain, Mental Health, Other Issues Related To COVID-19

BMJ Opinion: Covid-19 has made us realize we must not take universal health coverage for granted
Samantha Pegoraro, climate and health coordinator with the Italian Climate Network in Pisa, Italy, and Stefano Guicciardi, health directorate with the Local Health Authority Unit of Bologna, Italy (6/12).

Imperial College London: LMICs will face ‘extreme strain’ on health systems despite younger populations
Stephen Johns, central faculty with Communications and Public Affairs, and Sabine L. van Elsland, faculty of medicine at the School of Public Health, both at Imperial College London (6/12).

COVID-19: In Beijing a new outbreak linked with large market “Xinfadi”
Daniel Lucey, infectious diseases physician and adjunct professor of infectious diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center and a senior scholar at the Georgetown University O’Neill Institute (6/14).

UNFPA: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic UNFPA Global Response Plan (June 2020 Update) (June 2020).

UNIADS: Impact of COVID-19 on mental health and quality of life of young key populations and young people living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific (6/12).

UNICEF: Geneva Palais briefing note on the humanitarian situation for children in Yemen (6/12).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Fact Sheet Provides Update On U.S. Global Response To COVID-19

USAID: COVID-19 Global Response — Fact Sheet #3 FY20
This fact sheet provides details on U.S. efforts to address COVID-19 globally, highlighting key developments in the U.S. response, the U.S. action plan to support the international response, and regional summaries (6/12).

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President Trump Provides Statement On World Blood Donor Day

White House: Presidential Message on World Blood Donor Day, 2020
In a statement on World Blood Donor Day, President Trump discusses the importance of blood donations, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and notes, “During this challenging time, let us commit to raising awareness of the lifesaving act of donating blood. … Your blood donations can help minimize the harm inflicted by the coronavirus on our country…” (6/14).

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From KFF

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

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of June 15, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (6/15).

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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