KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Declares COVID-19 Outbreak As Pandemic, Calls On Nations To Work Together To Implement Containment, Mitigation Strategies

Devex: COVID-19 is officially a pandemic, WHO says
“The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic Wednesday. This declaration comes more than two months after the identification of the new coronavirus in Wuhan, China, with more than 118,000 cases and nearly 4,300 deaths in 114 countries to date. This is the first coronavirus outbreak to receive that label…” (Jerving, 3/11).

New York Times: Coronavirus Has Become a Pandemic, WHO Says
“… ‘We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,’ said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general. Dr. Tedros called for countries to learn from one another’s successes, act in unison, and help protect one another against a common threat. ‘Find, isolate, test, and treat every case, and trace every contact,’ Dr. Tedros said. ‘Ready your hospitals. Protect and train your health care workers’…” (McNeil, 3/11).

STAT: WHO declares the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic
“…Tedros used the fact that 90% of the cumulative cases have been reported in just four countries as evidence that the rest of the world still had time to prevent an explosion of cases with action. WHO officials also stressed that countries should be implementing a strategic combination of both containment and mitigation measures…” (Branswell/Joseph, 3/11).

Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Declared Pandemic by World Health Organization
“…The WHO generally defines a pandemic as a disease that has become widespread around the world, with an impact on society. The term has been applied to only a few diseases in history — a deadly flu in 1918, the H1N1 flu in 2009 and HIV/AIDS among them. … The pandemic label doesn’t require new WHO recommendations. But the move could get more resources to a rapidly worsening situation, some health experts said…” (McKay et al., 3/11).

Additional coverage of the pandemic announcement is available from CNBC, CNN, Financial Times, NPR, POLITICO, PRI, U.N. News, USA TODAY, and Washington Post.

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U.S. President Trump Announces Travel Restrictions For 26 European Nations In Effort To Stem Coronavirus; E.U. Leaders Condemn Administration For Not Consulting Allies

AP: In battle against virus, Trump restricts travel from Europe
“Taking dramatic action, President Donald Trump sharply restricted passenger travel from 26 European nations to the U.S. and moved to ease the economic cost of a viral pandemic that is roiling global financial markets and disrupting the daily lives of Americans. Trump, in a rare Oval Office address to the nation Wednesday night, said the monthlong restriction on travel would begin late Friday, at midnight. After days of playing down the coronavirus threat, he blamed Europe for not acting quickly enough to address the ‘foreign virus’ and claimed that U.S. clusters were ‘seeded’ by European travelers…” (Colvin et al., 3/12).

The Guardian: E.U. condemns Trump coronavirus travel ban as Ireland shuts schools
“The E.U. has condemned Donald Trump’s unilateral ban on travel from 26 European countries as urgent efforts to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic continued to upend daily life for millions of people around the world. … In a joint statement on Thursday, the presidents of the European Commission and European Council defended Europe’s record in managing the pandemic and sharply criticized the White House for its failure to consult its allies…” (Henley, 3/12).

POLITICO: America’s national security machine stares down a viral threat
“As a lethal virus sweeps the globe, U.S. national security officials are closely monitoring how the disease is affecting closed societies like China, Iran, and North Korea, trying to gauge to what extent officials in those countries have been covering up the extent of the outbreak. They’re also wrestling with a complex question closer to home: how to prevent the virus from spreading inside the nation’s intelligence and defense agencies themselves…” (Bertrand, 3/12).

Additional coverage of the U.S. government’s response to COVID-19 is available from Financial Times, The Hill (2), POLITICO (2), Reuters, STAT, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

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Messaging On COVID-19 Differs Between White House Officials, Government Health Experts; Top Infectious Disease Expert Warns Outbreak Will Get Worse In U.S.

The Atlantic: Trump’s Dangerously Effective Coronavirus Propaganda
“From the moment the coronavirus reached the United States, President Donald Trump has seemed determined to construct an alternate reality around the outbreak. In the information universe he has formed, COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, is no worse than the seasonal flu; criticism of his response to it is a ‘hoax’; and media coverage of the virus is part of a political conspiracy to destroy his presidency. As with so much of the president’s messaging, this narrative began with tossed-off tweets and impromptu public statements. But in recent days, as U.S. health officials have raised growing concerns about the outbreak, Trump’s efforts to play down the pandemic have been amplified by the same multi-platform propaganda apparatus he’s relying on for reelection in November…” (Coppins, 3/11).

Business Insider: The U.S.’s top infectious-diseases expert said ‘it would be nice’ if Trump hadn’t scrapped the NSC’s global-health unit
“As he warned that the worst is yet to come for the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert told House lawmakers it would be nice if President Donald Trump hadn’t eliminated the National Security Council’s global-health unit. ‘We worked very well with that office. It would be nice if the office was still there,’ Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday. In May 2018, Trump ordered the NSC’s global-health unit to close and reassigned Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, who would’ve overseen the U.S. response to a pandemic in that role…” (Haltiwanger, 3/11).

The Hill: Top Trump officials adopt more urgent tone as coronavirus spreads
“Top health officials in the Trump administration are increasingly warning the public that the coronavirus outbreak will worsen in the U.S., a notable departure from the message delivered by the president and some aides who had insisted as recently as last week that the virus was contained domestically…” (Samuels, 3/11).

Washington Post: Coronavirus forecasts are grim: ‘It’s going to get worse’
“…Experts have produced forecasts of likely numbers of infections and serious illnesses as well as death tolls, on the basis of what is known about the novel coronavirus and how past epidemics have played out. They suggest that the United States — which has surpassed 1,000 confirmed novel-coronavirus infections and 30 deaths — must prepare for a potentially historic pandemic…” (Achenbach et al., 3/11).

Additional coverage of messaging and communication on COVID-19 is available from CNBC, The Guardian, The Hill (2), MSNBC, New York Times, POLITICO, and Washington Post.

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White House Ordered HHS To Classify Coronavirus Discussions, Excluding Experts, Sources Tell Reuters

Reuters: Exclusive: White House told federal health agency to classify coronavirus deliberations — sources
“The White House has ordered federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified, an unusual step that has restricted information and hampered the U.S. government’s response to the contagion, according to four Trump administration officials. … Staffers without security clearances, including government experts, were excluded from the interagency meetings, which included video conference calls, the sources said. … The sources said the National Security Council (NSC), which advises the president on security issues, ordered the classification…” (Roston et al., 3/11).

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Media Outlets Examine U.S., China Relations In Light Of Coronavirus

AP: Trump officials emphasize that coronavirus ‘Made in China’ (Reichmann, 3/12).

Foreign Policy: U.S. and China Turn Coronavirus Into a Geopolitical Football (Lynch/Gramer, 3/11).

New York Times: Coronavirus Spurs U.S. Efforts to End China’s Chokehold on Drugs (Swanson, 3/11).

Reuters: China says ‘immoral and irresponsible’ U.S. officials shift coronavirus blame (Crossley, 3/12).

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COVID-19 Outbreak Spurs Travel Bans, Other Responses, Impacts Global Financial Markets

AP: Spread of coronavirus triggers travel bans, U.S. market plunge
“Sweeping travel bans accelerated around the globe Thursday, walling regions apart, keeping people inside their homes and slowing the engines of commerce to slow the unfolding coronavirus pandemic. In the U.S., stocks dropped so fast that it triggered a halt in trading for the second time in a week…” (Hinnant/Winfield, 3/12).

Financial Times: U.K. set to move to next phase in coronavirus fight (Hughes/Neville, 3/12).

The Guardian: Lesbos coronavirus case sparks fears for refugee camp (Fallon/Grant, 3/11).

New York Times: U.K. Shields Its Economy From the Virus, but Not Yet Its People (Landler et al., 3/11).

NPR: Singapore Wins Praise For Its COVID-19 Strategy. The U.S. Does Not (Beaubien, 3/12).

Reuters: Iran says it has asked IMF for $5 billion emergency funding to fight coronavirus (Hafezi/Barbuscia, 3/12).

Wall Street Journal: Tightened Borders Re-Emerge in Fight Against Coronavirus Pandemic (Trofimov, 3/12).

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Critics Warn U.S. Human Rights Report Politicizing Diplomatic Rivals, Note Diversions From Protecting Sexual Identity, Reproductive Rights

New York Times: Critics Hear Political Tone as Pompeo Calls Out Diplomatic Rivals Over Human Rights
“…In previewing the 2019 human rights report — an assessment of 199 countries and foreign territories — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named China, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela as among the worst violators, saying their governments had systematically attacked political protesters, oppressed free speech and journalists and, in some cases, spied on their citizens. … Critics also noted that the report’s shifting language — on the recognition of Palestinian territories in the section about Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as its diversion from protecting sexual identity and women’s reproductive rights — as a signal of political influence in the document’s conclusions. (It did, however, condemn forced abortions in North Korea, as well as the persecution of gay people in Russia.)…” (Jakes, 3/11).

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Parliamentary Committee To Conduct Evaluation Of U.K. DFID, Aid Impacts

Devex: Parliamentary group to examine the effectiveness of U.K. aid
“The U.K. Parliament’s aid watchdog is launching a wide-ranging investigation into the impact of U.K. aid and the Department for International Development. The ‘Effectiveness of U.K. Aid’ inquiry will be run by the newly selected International Development Committee and will contribute to the government’s integrated review of security, defense, development, and foreign policy. It will be open to submissions of evidence until the end of April, and the results are set to publish in June…” (Worley, 3/12).

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New High-Level Expert Coalition To Propose Strategies To Unlock More Climate Finance For Improving WASH In LMICs

Devex: New coalition plans to unlock climate finance for water services
“A new high-level expert group plans to develop proposals to unlock more climate finance, specifically for improved water services in low- and middle-income countries, before the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26. The group was announced at WaterAid’s Water and Climate Summit, convened this week in London, after a roundtable discussion hosted by WaterAid’s president, Prince Charles, who has been holding a series of climate-focused conversations. Speaking at the summit, he highlighted the need for an integrated approach to water and the climate crisis…” (Root, 3/12).

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Food Security Groups, Expert Concerned About Industry Influence At U.N. Food Systems Summit

The Guardian: U.N. under fire over choice of ‘corporate puppet’ as envoy at key food summit
“A global summit on food security is at risk of being dominated by big business at the expense of farmers and social movements, according to the U.N.’s former food expert. Olivier De Schutter, the former U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, said food security groups around the world had expressed misgivings about the U.N. food systems summit, which is due to take place in 2021 and could be crucial to making agriculture more sustainable. … His comments followed protests last month over the announcement that Agnes Kalibata, the former Rwandan minister for agriculture, would lead the event, despite her role as president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra), which has been accused of promoting damaging, business-focused practices. De Schutter emphasized that his comments were not directed at Kalibata personally…” (Dehghan/Ahmed, 3/12).

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IPS Examines Challenges To Pakistan's Polio Eradication Efforts

IPS: Why Pakistan Isn’t Taking that Final Step towards Polio Eradication
“…Last month, over 39 million children under the age of five were vaccinated across Pakistan. And a little more than 180,000 children were missed because their parents refused to have them vaccinated. While the number of missed children is marginal in comparison to those who were vaccinated, it has caused concern…” (Ebrahim, 3/11).

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More News In Global Health

AP: Supercomputer helps in tracking East Africa locust outbreak (Muhumuza/Tiro, 3/12).

CNBC: Joe Biden campaign announces new coronavirus committee to provide counsel as pandemic fears escalate (Higgins, 3/11).

Healio: Triple-drug regimen yields favorable outcomes in drug-resistant TB (3/11).

STAT: Researchers rush to test coronavirus vaccine in people without knowing how well it works in animals (Boodman, 3/11).

The Telegraph: How tech billionaires like Bill Gates are ploughing cash into fighting coronavirus (Dodds, 3/12).

Washington Post: The best hope for coronavirus treatment is an experimental drug that fizzled against Ebola (Rowland, 3/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Outbreak, Response

The Atlantic: The Worst Outcome
David Frum, staff writer at the Atlantic (3/11).

Devex: Opinion: How will COVID-19 affect global access to contraceptives — and what can we do about it?
Chris Purdy, president and CEO of DKT International (3/11).

Financial Times: Coronavirus and the collapse of global public health
David Pilling, Africa editor of the Financial Times (3/12).

Financial Times: Coronavirus response must be ‘never again’
Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (3/11).

Foreign Policy: Why Are We So Scared of the Coronavirus?
Jonathan Tepperman, editor in chief of Foreign Policy and author (3/11).

New York Times: The Argument: The Pandemic vs. The President
Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg, and David Leonhardt, all hosts of the Argument podcast at the New York Times (3/12).

New York Times: Letter to the Editor: South Korea: What We’re Doing to Fight the Coronavirus
Seo Eun-young, director of foreign press relations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Korea (3/11).

NPR: Opinion: Refugees Are Especially Vulnerable To COVID-19. Don’t Ignore Their Needs
Muhammad H. Zaman, professor of biomedical engineering and international health at Boston University and author (3/11).

POLITICO: On the Coronavirus, Nationalists Aren’t Nationalist Enough
Rich Lowry, editor of National Review and contributing editor with POLITICO Magazine (3/11).

TIME: I’m a Historian of Epidemics and Quarantine. Now I’m Living That History on Lockdown in Italy
Eugenia Tognotti, expert in public health and quarantine and professor of history of medicine and human sciences at the University of Sassari in Italy (3/11).

Washington Times: American foreign aid programs best defense against coronavirus
Andrew Natsios, professor in the Bush School of Government and Public Service and director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University (3/11).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Health Organizations Discuss State Department's 2019 Human Rights Report

Amnesty International: State Department’s Human Rights Report Highlights Trump Administration’s Anti-Human Rights Policies
“In response to the U.S. State Department releasing its third human rights report compiled under the Trump administration, Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and governmental relations at Amnesty International USA, said: ‘Not only have human rights come under attack domestically under the Trump administration, but they have been sidelined in its foreign policy, leaving people in dangerous and deadly conditions around the world with no help from the White House…” (3/11).

Human Rights Watch: U.S. State Department Again Ignores Women’s Reproductive Rights
Amanda Klasing, acting co-director for the Women’s Rights Division at HRW, discusses the State Department’s  annual human rights country reports, noting, “This year, the report’s editors provided an explanatory note that tries to respond to past complaints about how … major gaps in the report obscure the human rights conditions for many women, girls, and other marginalized groups around the world. The note recognizes that discrimination can affect access to health care, employment, and other rights, but it is a cursory explanation and doesn’t make up for biased reporting on women’s rights in the individual country reports. Nor does it justify the administration’s record of curtailing women’s human rights at every opportunity” (3/11).

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Senior Research Officer At ODI Discusses Potential Implications Of Coronavirus On Vulnerable Populations

Overseas Development Institute: From pandemics to poverty: the implications of coronavirus for the furthest behind
Vidya Diwakar, senior research officer at ODI, discusses the potential impact of the coronavirus outbreak on vulnerable populations and the “critical need to situate the response to the coronavirus within wider risk-informed development strategies, to ensure the inclusion of those furthest behind, who may otherwise face the worst effects of the pandemic in the months ahead” (3/10).

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Multiple Stressors Affect Women's Mental Health In Nairobi, Kenya, Expert Says

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Multiple Stressors Shape Mothers’ Mental Health in Nairobi, Kenya
As part of the Maternal Health Initiative’s CODE BLUE series, Sangeetha Madhavan, professor of African American studies and sociology and associate director of the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland, discusses the rising rates of depression among women in Africa; the role relationships and motherhood play in the mental health of women in Nairobi, Kenya; and the use of a life course framework for studying the mental health of mothers (3/11).

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From the U.S. Government

White House Outlines Steps Taken To Address Coronavirus Outbreak

White House: Remarks by President Trump in Address to the Nation
In an Oval Office address to the nation, President Trump discussed the actions being taken by the White House to respond to the coronavirus outbreak (3/11).

White House: President Donald J. Trump Has Taken Unprecedented Steps To Respond To The Coronavirus And Protect The Health And Safety Of Americans
This fact sheet outlines steps the White House is taking to address the coronavirus outbreak, including restricting travel from impacted areas and supporting U.S. businesses and workers impacted by coronavirus (3/11).

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U.S. Secretary Of State Discusses Release Of 2019 Country Reports On Human Rights Practices

U.S. Department of State: Secretary Michael R. Pompeo on the Release of the 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
During a press briefing on Wednesday, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo discussed the release of the State Department’s 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (3/11).

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From the Kaiser Family Foundation

KFF Summarizes Funding Detailed In Coronavirus Supplemental Appropriations Act

KFF: The U.S. Response to Coronavirus: Summary of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020
The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, which was passed with near unanimous support in both the House and Senate, was signed into law by the President on March 6, 2020. The bill provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. This summary provides details on funding specified in the bill (Oum/Wexler/Kates, 3/11).

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