KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

White House Takes More Serious Tone In Urging Americans To Take Action To Mitigate COVID-19 Impacts; Birx Calls For 'Sense Of Community' To Prevent Disease's Spread

CBS News: White House coronavirus response coordinator on new guidelines: “We can conquer this”
“The coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen in the United States. As the number of confirmed cases climbed over 4,300, the White House on Monday laid out new guidelines for Americans, urging everyone to avoid groups of 10 people or more. White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx spoke with ‘CBS Evening News’ host Norah O’Donnell for her first interview since the outbreak began…” (O’Donnell, 3/16).

Devex: Q&A: Tony Fauci on the state of pandemic security
“… ‘When you’re preparing for something that hasn’t happened yet, and then you have to respond to something that actually has happened, you are not necessarily prepared for the exact thing that’s going to happen,” said Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Devex spoke to Fauci about what his institute is doing — and what global health organizations need to do — to better prepare governments and health systems for those inevitable, unpredictable threats…” (Igoe, 3/17).

New York Times: Trump Urges Limits Amid Pandemic, but Stops Short of National Mandates
“President Trump, under pressure to take more significant steps to slow the spreading coronavirus, recommended on Monday that Americans stop unnecessary travel and avoid bars, restaurants, and groups of more than 10 people, as he warned that the outbreak could extend well into the summer…” (Rogers et al., 3/16).

Washington Times: Deborah Birx brings decades of HIV/AIDS experience to fight coronavirus
“…At the daily White House press conferences on the coronavirus, Dr. Birx frequently draws comparisons between HIV/AIDS and the fast-spreading virus causing pneumonia-like symptoms that has killed more than 6,500 worldwide since emerging last year in Wuhan, China. ‘We had another silent epidemic: HIV,’ she said at Monday’s briefing. ‘I just want to recognize, the HIV epidemic was solved by the community, the HIV advocates and activists who stood up when no one was listening and got everyone’s attention. We’re asking that same sense of community to come together and stand up against this virus’…” (Richardson, 3/16).

Additional coverage of the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is available from Fox, NBC, New York Times, Out, POLITICO (2), Reuters (2), STAT, and Washington Post.

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G7 Leaders Agree To Cooperate On COVID-19 Pandemic Response

AP: G7 leaders try to ease tension, vow to coordinate on virus
“The United States and its top economic allies pledged Monday to more closely share real-time information about the coronavirus and the availability of medical equipment and to support jobs, global trade, and investment. They also vowed to bolster science, research, and technology and work to restore public confidence about the pandemic threatening the world’s economy…” (Riechmann et al., 3/16).

The Hill: Trump, G7 leaders agree to cooperate on coronavirus response
“… ‘The leaders discussed efforts to accelerate the national health and economic responses to the coronavirus pandemic in order to save lives and restore economic growth,’ White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement on the teleconference, which took place Monday morning. … In a joint statement, the leaders called the coronavirus pandemic a ‘human tragedy and a global health crisis, which also poses major risks for the world economy’…” (Chalfant, 3/16).

Reuters: U.K.’s Johnson sees agreement within G7 on fiscal stimulus
“British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday there was agreement amongst G7 countries that there should be fiscal stimulus to help cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic…” (Holton et al., 3/16).

Additional coverage of the G7 meeting is available from BBC, CNN, and The Guardian.

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WHO Urges Nations To Test Every Suspected Coronavirus Case

CNBC: World Health Organization says some nations aren’t running enough coronavirus tests: ‘Test every suspected case’
“The World Health Organization’s top official criticized some nations for not doing enough to detect and contain the deadly coronavirus that’s infected more than 174,000 people across the world…” (Feuer et al., 3/16).

Reuters: ‘Test, test, test’: WHO chief’s coronavirus message to world
“… ‘We have a simple message to all countries — test, test, test,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva, calling the pandemic ‘the defining global health crisis of our time’…” (Revill/Farge, 3/16).

U.N. News: ‘You cannot fight a fire blindfolded’: WHO chief blasts slow virus testing response
“…The WHO has repeatedly decried a lack of urgency on the part of many countries when it comes to testing, isolation, and contact tracing (i.e. carefully monitoring people who are in close contact with someone who has been infected). In his Monday briefing, Tedros acknowledged the rapid escalation in social distancing measures worldwide … However, simply following guidelines for personal behavior (such as social distancing, regular handwashing, and coughing into your elbow) are, said Tedros, simply not enough to ‘extinguish the pandemic’…” (3/16).

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News Outlets Report On Global Efforts To Mitigate COVID-19 Impacts

AP: ‘Virus at Iran’s gates’: How Tehran failed to stop outbreak (Gambrill, 3/17).

AP: Pakistan PM warns new virus may devastate developing nations (Gannon, 3/17).

The Atlantic: The U.K.’s Coronavirus ‘Herd Immunity’ Debacle (Yong, 3/16).

CIDRAP News: U.S. takes more big pandemic response steps; Europe COVID-19 cases soar (Schnirring, 3/15).

CIDRAP News: France orders lockdown to slow COVID-19 spread (Schnirring, 3/16).

Devex: To stop COVID-19 spread, Colombia halves Venezuela response services (Welsh, 3/17).

Devex: COVID-19 disruptions on health supply chains a challenge for aid orgs (Ravelo, 3/17).

The Hill: Canada closing border to most non-residents, exempts U.S. citizens (Coleman, 3/16).

Reuters: WHO to start coronavirus testing in rebel Syria; Iran raises efforts, official says (Farge, 3/16).

Reuters: China urges U.S. to lift sanctions on Iran amid coronavirus response (Venkat, 3/16).

Reuters: World Bank offers $60 mln to Kenya to fight coronavirus outbreak (Mohammed, 3/16).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: In slums and windowless apartments, Asia’s poor bear brunt of coronavirus (Chandran, 3/17).

U.N. News: China shows COVID-19 Coronavirus can be ‘stopped in its tracks’ (3/16).

Wall Street Journal: Africa, Latin America Brace as Coronavirus Threatens Weaker Health Systems (Dube et al., 3/16).

Washington Post: The Middle East is already wracked by war. Now it must confront the coronavirus, too (Sly, 3/17).

Washington Post: In an Italian city, obituaries fill the newspaper, but survivors mourn alone (Harlan/Pitrelli, 3/16).

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Researchers Work To Develop COVID-19 Treatments, Vaccines; Experts Discuss Disease Severity, Mortality Among Various Populations

AFP: Coronavirus drugs: Who’s doing what, and when they might come
“Pharmaceuticals and research labs across the world are racing to find vaccines and treatments for the new coronavirus, using a variety of different technologies…” (3/16).

Becker’s Hospital Review: 41% of adults at risk for severe coronavirus illness, KFF finds
“About 4 in 10 U.S. adults are at risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19 due to their age or underlying health issues, according to an analysis from Kaiser Family Foundation. KFF analyzed data from the CDC’s 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to estimate the total number of U.S. adults and their relative risk of serious illness by state. Based on the CDC’s definition, KFF defined high-risk individuals as adults age 60 or older and younger adults with heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or diabetes…” (Bean, 3/16).

The Hill: More than 50 percent of most severe coronavirus patients in France are under age 60
“More than half of novel coronavirus patients in intensive care in France are younger than the age of 60, according to the country’s top health official. CNN reports Jerome Salomon, the director general for health, announced the statistics Saturday night as the country saw a jump in new virus cases. … Salomon did not specify the age range of those younger than 60 in intensive care…” (Guzman, 3/16).

Additional coverage of research efforts to develop COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, as well as information on disease severity and mortality, is available from CNBC, Devex, Reuters, and STAT (2).

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U.S. Secretary Of State Pompeo Warns Chinese Counterpart Against Spreading Coronavirus Origin Rumors

The Hill: Pompeo warns China against spreading ‘outlandish rumors’ about coronavirus
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday warned his Chinese counterpart against spreading ‘outlandish rumors’ about the coronavirus pandemic. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Pompeo ‘conveyed strong U.S. objection to (China’s) efforts to shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States’ in a phone call with Yang Jiechi, director of China’s Office of Foreign Affairs. … Pompeo’s call with Yang comes amid conspiracy theories taking hold in Chinese media throwing into question the origin of the coronavirus and blaming the U.S. for the spread of the disease that was first detected in Wuhan, China…” (Kelly, 3/16).

New York Times: China Spins Tale That the U.S. Army Started the Coronavirus Epidemic
“China is pushing a new theory about the origins of the coronavirus: It is an American disease that might have been introduced by members of the United States Army who visited Wuhan in October. There is not a shred of evidence to support that, but the notion received an official endorsement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose spokesman accused American officials of not coming clean about what they know about the disease…” (Myers/Fu, 3/13).

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USAID Administrator Mark Green's Resignation Planned, Unrelated To Coronavirus Response

The Hill: USAID administrator announces departure amid coronavirus pandemic
“The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development announced on Monday he would be leaving his post next month to work in the private sector. USAID Administrator Mark Green’s announcement comes as the U.S. and the world deal with a widening coronavirus pandemic that is challenging the U.S. and governments around the world…” (Kelly, 3/16).

Washington Post: USAID head to resign amid coronavirus pandemic
“…Mark Green said his resignation, submitted to President Trump in a letter Sunday, does not stem from any dissatisfaction with the administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. ‘They’re not related at all,’ Green said in a phone interview about his departure from USAID, where he has been the administrator for the past 2½ years…” (Morello, 3/16).

Additional coverage of Green’s departure is available from CNN and Devex.

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Study Examining PEPFAR's DREAMS Program In Rakai, Uganda Finds Mixed Results

Healio: Study shows PEPFAR program for adolescent girls should be modified
“Study findings presented at CROI showed that a United States-funded program designed to reduce the risk for HIV infection in adolescent girls and young women in high-burden countries had some impact among teenagers in Uganda, but several interventions produced no effects and researchers said the program needs to be modified. The study evaluated a program initiated by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief called Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe (DREAMS). It was conducted in Rakai, Uganda, a rural community with a high HIV prevalence…” (Downey, 3/16).

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Number Of Women, Girls Who Have Undergone FGM Possibly Higher Than Current Estimates, Report Says

The Guardian: True numbers of FGM victims could be far higher as countries fail to record cases
“The number of women and girls who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) could be much higher than previously estimated, as a new report shows the practice is carried out in more than 90 countries around the world. … After pulling together data from indirect estimates, smaller surveys, academic studies and from anecdotal evidence, researchers from Equality Now, the End FGM European Network, and the U.S. End FGM/C Network found that hundreds of thousands of cases have been documented across 92 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America and Latin America…” (Ford, 3/17).

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More Than 3M Dengue Fever Cases Reported In Latin America This Year

Al Jazeera: Dengue fever crisis grips Latin America
“Dengue fever cases are soaring in Latin America, all the way from Mexico to Chile. The mosquito-borne illness has become one of the most common reasons for hospitalization. More than three million cases — a figure six times higher than the previous year — were reported in Latin America last year and the upward trend is continuing…” (Rampietti, 3/17).

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More News In Global Health

The Atlantic: 10 Days Later: What Italians Wish They Had Known (Buder, 3/16).

MedPage Today: Birth Control Implants, HIV Meds Safe Together (Susman, 3/12).

NPR: Panic In The Street: How Psychology Shaped The Response To An Epidemic (Vedantam et al., 3/16).

SciDev.Net: ‘Gender blind’ coronavirus policies could hinder disease fight (Willmer, 3/16).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: England joins nations offering HIV prevention pill to all at high risk (Elks, 3/15).

U.N. News: U.N. Population Fund sounds alarm over dire situation facing women and girls in Syria after 10 years of war (3/16).

U.N. News: COVID-19: Mental health in the age of coronavirus (3/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Global Response To, Implications Of COVID-19

Washington Post: Britain’s approach to the coronavirus is lagging behind the emergency
Editorial Board

“…Last week, British officials said they believe the pandemic may not peak for many weeks and that strict measures might lead to ‘behavioral fatigue’ and public laxness or resistance later on — so the harshest measures, including school closings and limits to public gatherings, would be delayed … The British government may be miscalculating in its assumption that time is on its side. Several hundred British medical professionals, in an open letter, pointed out that the growth rate of infections in the United Kingdom seems to be on track with sudden takeoffs that occurred previously in Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, and the outbreak could affect millions in just a few weeks, leaving the National Health Service unable to cope with all those needing care. Monday, [British Prime Minister Boris] Johnson sounded more urgent. He called on Britons to avoid pubs and theaters and for the sick to isolate themselves. He should not hesitate to take even stronger measures. No one benefits when they are exposed to the virus. Everything that can be done to isolate people from infection should be done so that hospitals will be available for those who really need them” (3/16).

Bloomberg: Europe Freezes Its Economy in Order to Fight the Coronavirus
Lionel Laurent, Bloomberg opinion columnist (3/16).

The Conversation: Lack of confidence in U.S. leadership adds to coronavirus panic
Tony Walker, adjunct professor at the School of Communications at La Trobe University (3/16).

Devex: Opinion: Education in the time of COVID-19
Justin w. van Fleet, president at Theirworld and executive director at the Global Business Coalition for Education (3/16).

Foreign Affairs: Will the Coronavirus End Globalization as We Know It?
Henry Farrell, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, and Abraham Newman, professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and Government Department at Georgetown University (3/16).

Foreign Policy: Transparency and Testing Work Better Than Coercion in Coronavirus Battle
Matthew Kavanagh, assistant professor of global health and director of the Global Health Policy and Governance Initiative at the Georgetown University O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law (3/16).

Foreign Policy: What the West Can Learn From Africa’s Ebola Response
Amara M. Konneh, former finance minister of Liberia (3/16).

Foreign Policy: Fear of China Made Taiwan a Coronavirus Success Story
Hilton Yip, journalist (3/16).

Project Syndicate: The World Is at War
Hans-Werner Sinn, professor of economics at the University of Munich, member of the German economy ministry’s Advisory Council, and author (3/16).

ProPublica: This Coronavirus Is Unlike Anything in Our Lifetime, and We Have to Stop Comparing It to the Flu
Charles Ornstein, health reporter (3/14).

STAT: The novel coronavirus is a serious threat. We need to prepare, not overreact
Darren Schulte, CEO of Apixio (3/16).

Washington Post: Chris Christie: What Trump must do now to reduce the coronavirus risk
Chris Christie, Republican governor of New Jersey from 2010 to 2018 (3/16).

Washington Post: How the coronavirus could trigger a backslide on freedom around the world
Allie Funk, research analyst, and Isabel Linzer, research associate, both at Freedom House (3/16).

Washington Post: No, the White House didn’t ‘dissolve’ its pandemic response office. I was there.
Tim Morrison, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute (3/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

ICC, WHO Issue Joint Statement On Private Sector's Role In COVID-19 Response

World Health Organization: ICC-WHO Joint Statement: An unprecedented private sector call to action to tackle COVID-19
“In a coordinated effort to combat the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have agreed to work closely to ensure the latest and most reliable information and tailored guidance reaches the global business community. … All businesses have a key role to play in minimizing the likelihood of transmission and impact on society. Early, bold, and effective action will reduce short-term risks to employees and long-term costs to businesses and the economy. To aid this collective effort, ICC will regularly send updated advice to its network of over 45 million businesses so that businesses everywhere can take informed and effective action to protect their workers, customers, and local communities and contribute to the production and distribution of essential supplies…” (3/16).

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U.N. Secretary General Provides Message For World Meteorological Day, Highlights Link Between Climate, Water

United Nations: Secretary-General Warns of Grave Water Crisis, Stressing ‘Every Drop Counts’ in Message for World Meteorological Day
In a message for World Meteorological Day, which takes place on March 23, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres says, “Climate and water are inextricably linked. … That is why, this year, World Meteorological Day and World Water Day share the theme of climate and water. … Let us mark World Meteorological Day this year by appreciating the inextricable link between climate and water and the importance of our hydrological cycle. Let us intensify our efforts to support our meteorological and hydrological communities to further the effective management of water resources. Let us count every drop, because every drop counts” (3/16).

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Solidarités International Releases 6th Edition Of 2020 Water, Sanitation And Hygiene Barometer

Solidarités International: Water is in Crisis/es!
Alain Boinet, founder of Solidarités International, discusses the release of the 6th edition of the 2020 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Barometer, which assesses the current situation of water, sanitation, and hygiene throughout the world and provides recommendations on ways to address the water crisis. Boinet writes, “This 6th Barometer on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene aims to contribute to ensuring that the [World Water Forum in Dakar] is up to the challenges of a world that is increasingly thirsty! … This forum’s theme is ‘Water Security for Peace and Development.’ The real challenge, as we now know, is to take action to ensure that water does not become a factor of conflict and danger for populations and their development! … This forum must be a forum of practical responses to urgent needs and a forum of hope to achieve the SDGs in 2030, including in crisis situations” (3/16).

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IntraHealth Interviews Expert On Family Planning Needs, Access In Francophone West Africa

IntraHealth International: The Future of Family Planning in West Africa Starts Here
Katherine Seaton, editorial officer with IntraHealth International, presents an interview with Hawa Talla, francophone West Africa director of the Challenge Initiative, addressing women’s needs for high-quality family planning services in the region (3/16).

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From the U.S. Government

White House Releases Transcript Of Latest Coronavirus Task Force Press Briefing

White House: Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing
This posting contains statements made by President Trump, Deborah Birx, Anthony Fauci, and other U.S. officials at a press briefing on coronavirus held on March 16, as well as questions posed by the media and answers provided by U.S. officials (3/16).

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NIAID Announces Phase 1 Clinical Trial Evaluating Investigational COVID-19 Vaccine

HHS: Secretary Azar Statement on Launch of Phase 1 COVID-19 Vaccine Trial
“On Monday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health announced that a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine designed to protect against COVID-19 has begun at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, funded by NIH. … The study is evaluating different doses of the experimental vaccine for safety and its ability to induce an immune response in participants…” (3/16).

NIH: NIH clinical trial of investigational vaccine for COVID-19 begins
“…The open-label trial will enroll 45 healthy adult volunteers ages 18 to 55 years over approximately 6 weeks. The first participant received the investigational vaccine [on Monday]. The study is evaluating different doses of the experimental vaccine for safety and its ability to induce an immune response in participants. This is the first of multiple steps in the clinical trial process for evaluating the potential benefit of the vaccine…” (3/16).

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USAID Administrator Mark Green, Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Issue Statements Addressing Green's Departure From Post

USAID: Statement by USAID Administrator Mark Green
In a statement announcing his resignation from USAID, USAID Administrator Mark Green says, “For two and a half years, I have had the honor, and the joy, of serving as the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). … [I]t is with pride, and not a little sadness, that I announce my plans to leave USAID and return to the private sector next month. With the vision and dedication of the men and women of USAID, the agency has done unceasing and robust work to change and improve the power of foreign assistance to help our partner nations on their Journeys to Self-Reliance. The purpose of foreign assistance is to end the need for its existence. The work of USAID every day provides a powerful return on investment to the American taxpayers for our national security, our economic growth — this generosity is simply in our DNA as a country. … I look forward to seeing USAID’s mission continue to address the wide-ranging development and humanitarian challenges of the 21st century” (3/16).

U.S. Department of State: On USAID Administrator Mark Green
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo released a statement addressing the resignation of USAID Administrator Mark Green (3/16).

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From KFF

KFF Resources Examine COVID-19 Cases Globally, Donor Funding, Other Aspects Of Outbreak

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of March 16, 2020 (3/16).

KFF: The U.S. Response to Coronavirus: Summary of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (Oum/Wexler/Kates, 3/11).

KFF: Donor Funding for the Global Novel Coronavirus Response (Moss, 3/10).

Additional KFF COVID-19 resources, including those focused on the response and impact within the U.S., are available here.

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