KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO Raises Global COVID-19 Risk To Highest Level As Number Of Infections Top 88K Worldwide With More Than 3K Deaths

CIDRAP News: WHO raises global COVID-19 risk to highest level
“The World Health Organization (WHO) raised the global COVID-19 risk to its highest level [Friday], as cases surged in three hot spots outside China, which are quickly spreading the virus to other countries, with many more — such as Nigeria and Mexico — reporting their first cases…” (Schnirring, 2/28).

CNN: Novel coronavirus infects more than 88,000 worldwide as clusters spread
“The death toll from the novel coronavirus has passed 3,000 worldwide, as outbreaks in Italy and Iran continue to worsen and dozens of countries reported their first cases of the highly infectious illness. The virus, formally known as Covid-19, has infected more than 88,400 people since the outbreak began last December in Wuhan, China. The vast majority of cases and deaths are still in mainland China, concentrated in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital — however, despite travel bans, mass quarantines and emergency measures in China, it continues to spread…” (Yeung, 3/2).

Additional coverage of the global spread of coronavirus is available from AP, CIDRAP News, Devex, The Guardian, New York Times (2), Reuters, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal.

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U.N. Releases $15M In Emergency Funds For Coronavirus Response; U.S. Budget Negotiators Continue To Discuss COVID-19 Funding

STAT: Partisan bickering delayed Zika funding for months. With coronavirus, experts worry history will repeat itself
“Public health experts have a warning for Congress: don’t treat emergency coronavirus aid like business as usual. Partisan bickering has often frustrated lawmakers’ attempts to speedily approve emergency spending packages. … No one knows if the debate over coronavirus funding, which has captivated Capitol Hill this week, will devolve quite as spectacularly as the one that took place around Zika funding. Bipartisan negotiations are ongoing in earnest…” (Florko, 3/2).

U.N. News: U.N. releases emergency funds to help vulnerable countries fight coronavirus COVID-19
“$15 million dollars has been released from the U.N.’s Central Emergency Fund to help fund global efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, particularly vulnerable countries with weak health care systems. The U.N. announced on Sunday that the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), will use the funds to undertake essential activities such as monitoring the spread of the virus, investigating cases, and operating national laboratories…” (3/1).

Additional coverage of funding for the COVID-19 response is available from ABC and Bloomberg Law.

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U.S. Government's Mixed Messages On, Politicization Of COVID-19 Complicating Outbreak Response, Preparedness, Media Outlets Report

The Guardian: Coronavirus: Trump’s mixed messages ‘undermines public trust,’ experts say
“The Trump administration’s politicization of science and cuts to health institutions are raising concerns about its preparedness to handle the coronavirus outbreak. … [H]ealth experts say the Trump administration is still sending mixed messages about a growing public health crisis…” (Lutz, 3/1).

New York Times: How Coronavirus Is Already Being Viewed Through a Partisan Lens
“…The coronavirus does not discriminate between political parties. But as Mr. Trump and his allies have defended his actions and accused Democrats and the news media of fanning fears to ‘bring down the president,’ a growing public health crisis has turned into one more arena for bitter political battle, where facts are increasingly filtered through a partisan lens. Democrats accused Mr. Trump of failing to respond adequately to the health threat and then politicizing it instead…” (Healy et al., 3/1).

POLITICO: Trump rallies conservatives — and drops charges of a coronavirus ‘hoax’
“Just hours after he somberly confirmed the first coronavirus-related death in the United States, President Donald Trump boasted to a packed room of conservatives that he was responsible for keeping them safe. … But Trump’s remarks were also more subdued than his appearance the night before at a campaign event in South Carolina, where he whipped up the crowd by suggesting his political opponents were weaponizing the virus as a ‘new hoax’ against his presidency. … All told, Trump [on Saturday] presented a hopeful outlook when it came the coronavirus epidemic, just one minor blip for the public and his political prospects. It was a stark difference from how his allies and surrogates had discussed the issue earlier this week at CPAC — explicitly accusing the media and the Democrats of trying to hype up the coronavirus threat to sabotage Trump…” (Nguyen, 2/29).

Additional coverage of the U.S. government’s response to COVID-19 is available from AP, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Forbes, The Guardian, The Hill (2), NBC, New York Times (2) (3), POLITICO, Roll Call, The Telegraph, Vox (2), and Washington Post (2).

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Experts Discuss U.S., Global Responses To COVID-19 Outbreak

Financial Times: Public health experts call coronavirus a ‘pandemic’ (Greeley, 2/29).

Financial Times: Ebola co-discoverer Peter Piot on how to respond to the coronavirus (Pilling, 2/28).

The Guardian: Epidemics expert Jonathan Quick: ‘The worst-case scenario for coronavirus is likely’ (Spinney, 3/1).

HuffPost: Obama ‘Ebola Czar’ Delivers Scathing Assessment Of Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Response (Moran, 2/29).

MSNBC: Fmr. Ebola Czar: U.S ‘so far behind’ on Coronavirus response (Jackson, 2/28).

New York Times: Is the Coronavirus an Epidemic or a Pandemic? It Depends on Who’s Talking (Taylor et al., 2/28).

PBS: A pandemic expert questions speed of U.S. response to novel coronavirus (Woodruff, 2/28).

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Media Outlets Examine How Health Officials, Social Media Working To Control Coronavirus Misinformation

Business Insider: The World Health Organization joined TikTok to post ‘reliable’ advice about the coronavirus amid a stream of memes and misinformation (Perrett, 3/1).

CNN Business: How health officials and social media are teaming up to fight the coronavirus ‘infodemic’ (Duffy, 3/1).

IPS: Q&A: Misinformation in the Time of an Uncontainable Virus (Sadeque, 2/28).

USA TODAY: What’s true about coronavirus? World Health Organization joins TikTok to share ‘reliable’ information (Brown, 3/1).

Washington Post: Millions of tweets peddled conspiracy theories about coronavirus in other countries, an unpublished U.S. report says (Romm, 2/29).

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Few COVID-19 Cases Reported So Far In African Nations; Nigeria Well-Prepared To Address Virus, Experts, Officials Say

France 24/AFP: With only three official cases, Africa’s low coronavirus rate puzzles health experts
“Whether it’s a matter of faulty detection, climatic factors or simple fluke, the remarkably low rate of coronavirus infection in African countries, with their fragile health systems, continues to puzzle — and worry — experts. … In a study published in The Lancet medical journal on the preparedness and vulnerability of African countries against the importation of Covid-19, an international team of scientists identified Algeria, Egypt, and South Africa as the most likely to import new coronavirus cases into Africa, though they also have the best prepared health systems in the continent and are the least vulnerable. … The study in The Lancet found that Nigeria, a country at moderate risk of contamination, is also one of the best-equipped in the continent to handle such an epidemic…” (3/1).

Additional coverage of coronavirus in African nations is available from Al Jazeera, Quartz, and Washington Post.

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U.S. Expected To Provide 1-Year, $389M PEPFAR Grant To Zambia

Reuters: U.S. to give Zambia $389 million grant for AIDS relief
“The United States will give Zambia a new one year bilateral grant of $389 million for AIDS relief starting in October after Congressional approval, Zambia’s ministry of health said in a statement. The grant under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) follows a meeting on Zambia which was held last week in Johannesburg, South Africa…” (Mfula, 3/1).

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USAID Chief Nutritionist Shawn Baker Discusses Priorities In Devex Interview

Devex: Q&A: USAID’s first chief nutritionist plans to ‘demystify’ the sector
“Shawn Baker is the U.S. Agency for International Development’s first chief nutritionist, a role he told Devex he is particularly excited to take on in 2020 — a critical year for the global nutrition agenda. Formerly the director for nutrition at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Baker said he wants to use USAID’s expertise and relationships to galvanize support for the Nutrition for Growth Summit set to take place in December in Tokyo. That event aims to secure concrete commitments from donors, partner countries, and the private sector to accelerate progress on improving nutrition worldwide…” (Welsh, 3/2).

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Health Officials Hope To Clear DRC Of Ebola Over Next Few Months

Al Jazeera: DR Congo Ebola: Officials hope country cleared in few months
“Doctors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are hoping to declare the country Ebola-free in just a few months. But efforts to stamp out the disease have been hampered by repeated rebel attacks, particularly in the eastern city of Beni which has been the epicenter of the outbreak in recent months…” (Soi, 3/2).

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Argentine President To Send Bill Legalizing Abortion, Implementing Sex Education, Pregnancy Prevention Drive To Congress

Reuters: Argentine president to send abortion legalization law to Congress
“Argentine President Alberto Fernandez announced on Sunday that he will send to Congress a bill to legalize abortion, an initiative that has broad social support but is also strongly opposed by religious groups in Pope Francis’ home nation. … The initiative, promoted for years by an increasingly powerful feminist movement in Argentina, will be accompanied by a sexual education and pregnancy prevention drive, according to the Fernandez government. Current Argentine law only permits abortions in cases of rape, or if the mother’s health is at risk…” (Misculin/Laing, 3/1).

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Top Court In Colombia Expected To Rule On Whether To Permit Abortion In First Months Of Pregnancy

New York Times: Abortion Case in Colombia Could Be a Landmark in Latin America
“A top court in Colombia is expected to rule in the coming days on whether to permit abortion during the first months of a pregnancy, a decision that could be a landmark in Latin America and have a ripple effect across a region known for its restrictive laws. … Colombia is not only among the most populous and culturally influential nations in Latin America, but its high court is widely considered a legal trendsetter. Supporters of legalization say a ruling in their favor would herald a shift in a region steeped in conservative Catholic traditions that have long limited abortion. But opponents fear exactly that…” (Turkewitz/González, 3/1).

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Writing In NEJM, Bill Gates Warns COVID-19 Could Be 'Once-In-A-Century' Disease Outbreak

The Hill: Bill Gates warns coronavirus may be the ‘once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about’
“Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates wrote in an article published Friday that coronavirus may be the ‘once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about.’ ‘I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise,’ Gates wrote in the article, which was featured in the New England Journal of Medicine…” (Johnson, 2/29).

Additional coverage of Gates’s NEJM article is available from Breitbart and Quartz.

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More News In Global Health

AP: People with albinism issued with protective alarms in Malawi (Jali, 3/2).

Devex: The challenge of local implementation in Uganda’s new nutrition policy (Green, 3/2).

Devex: Half of USAID’s spending goes to 25 organizations. Who are they? (Wolf, 2/28).

The Guardian: Faulty condoms leave charity facing court case in Uganda (Okiror, 3/2).

HealthDay News: Imaging Scans May Lead to Shorter TB Treatment (Preidt, 2/27).

Health Policy Watch: WHO Launched Digital Version Of Essential Medicines List (2/28).

NPR: A $100 Million HIV Vaccine Project Failed. But All Hope Is Not Lost (Whitehead, 3/2).

Reuters: Paraguay dengue fever death toll rises to 34 (Desantis, 2/28).

U.N. News: Fighting discrimination against women is key to beating AIDS (2/29).

Xinhua: Nigeria ranks 1st in Africa’s tuberculosis infection: WHO (2/27).

Xinhua: Namibia launches sustainable development goals online hub (2/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss COVID-19 Outbreak, Related Issues

New York Times: Here Comes the Coronavirus Pandemic
Editorial Board

“…Despite many warnings over many years, we are still not ready [for the next global pandemic]. … To be sure, some broad progress has been made in the past few years. … But, as Covid-19 makes clear, much more is still needed. … Plan and prepare. … Invest in state health departments. … Fund federal health agencies. … Forget isolationism…” (2/29).

The Atlantic: Epidemics Reveal the Truth of the Societies They Hit
Anne Applebaum, staff writer at the Atlantic (3/2).

The Atlantic: Our Plague Year
Eliot A. Cohen, dean of SAIS at Johns Hopkins University (2/29).

Bloomberg: What the Coronavirus End Game Will Look Like
David Fickling, Bloomberg Opinion columnist (2/28).

Deutsche Welle: Opinion: Are we facing a coronavirus epidemic or pandemic?
Fabian Schmidt, writer in the DW science department (3/1).

Forbes: How Lack Of A Strategy Undermines The Coronavirus Response
Steve Denning, author and director of the SD Learning Consortium (3/1).

The Guardian: Coronavirus is bad enough — Trump’s cuts have made the danger far worse
Robert Reich, professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley and author (3/1).

The Hill: Now is the time to resource the Public Health Emergency Fund
Jennifer B. Alton, president of Pathway Policy Group and center affiliate at the Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security, and Ellen P. Carlin, assistant research professor at the Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security and director of Georgetown’s Global Infectious Disease graduate program (2/28).

The Hill: Why a go-it-alone approach to combatting the coronavirus won’t work
Kevin Berry, assistant professor of economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Katherine Lee, assistant professor of agricultural economics and rural sociology at the University of Idaho (3/1).

The Hill: Businesses can help stop coronavirus and future infectious disease outbreaks
Ifeanyi M. Nsofor, CEO of EpiAFRIC, director of policy and advocacy at Nigeria Health Watch (2/29).

New England Journal of Medicine: COVID-19: Navigating the uncharted
Anthony S. Fauci, NIAID director; H. Clifford Lane, NIAID deputy director for clinical research and special projects; and Robert R. Redfield, CDC director

New England Journal of Medicine: Responding to Covid-19 — A Once-in-a-Century Pandemic?
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2/28).

New Yorker: Donald Trump’s Anti-Globalist Response to a Global Coronavirus
Michael Specter, staff writer at the New Yorker (2/29).

New York Post: Criticisms of Trump’s coronavirus response are sickening: Devine
Miranda Devine, columnist at the New York Post (3/1).

New York Times: How to Confront the Coronavirus at Every Level
Tom Inglesby, director, and Anita Cicero, deputy director, both at the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (3/2).

New York Times: Is This Coronavirus ‘the Big One’?
Nicholas Kristof, opinion columnist at the New York Times (2/29).

New York Times: What the Plague Can Teach Us About the Coronavirus
Hannah Marcus, assistant professor of the history of science at Harvard University (3/1).

New York Times: To Take On the Coronavirus, Go Medieval on It
Donald G. McNeil Jr., science reporter for the New York Times (2/28).

New York Times: The Coronavirus Has Put the World’s Economy in Survival Mode
Eswar S. Prasad, professor at Cornell University and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution (3/1).

New York Times: Donna Shalala: Drop the Politics and Fight Coronavirus
Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), Democratic member of Congress and former secretary of health and human services (3/2).

STAT: The coronavirus ‘infodemic’ is real. We rated the websites responsible for it
John Gregory, NewsGuard’s deputy editor on health (2/28).

USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Global health is key to U.S. security, so why does Trump want to cut funds?
Vanessa Kerry, practicing critical care physician at Mass General Hospital, CEO of Seed Global Health, and director of Global Public Policy and Social Change at Harvard Medical School (2/28).

Washington Post: China barred my dystopian novel about how its system enables epidemics
Max Brooks, author and senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Modern War Institute at West Point (2/27).

Washington Post: Letters to the Editor: On the coronavirus, our leaders have let us down
Nils Daulaire, doctor, former assistant secretary of health for global affairs and former
U.S. representative to the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (2/28).

Washington Post: Think about who you’d rather have in charge of a coronavirus pandemic
Megan McArdle, columnist at the Washington Post (2/28).

Washington Post: Trump is pushing a dangerous, false spin on coronavirus — and the media is helping him spread it
Margaret Sullivan, media columnist at the Washington Post and author (3/1).

Washington Post: The U.S. is actually doing a great job fighting the coronavirus threat
Leana S. Wen, emergency physician and visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (2/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

WHO-China Joint Mission On COVID-19 Releases Report On Outbreak

WHO: Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
This report from the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus provides findings on the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, including an assessment of the outbreak and response measures in China and globally and recommendations for disease containment and response (2/24).

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World Bank Economist, Physician Discuss How Africa Can Prepare For Coronavirus, Other Disease Outbreaks

Brookings Institution’s “Africa in Focus”: Preparing for the coronavirus and other epidemics in Africa
Patricia Geli, senior economist for the health, nutrition, and population global practice at the World Bank, discusses potential economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak and provides recommendations on how Africa can prepare for this and future disease outbreaks (2/28).

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: COVID-19: A doctor explores preparedness in Ghana
In this guest post, Bertha Serwa Ayi, adjunct assistant professor of medicine at the Nebraska Medical Center and an adjunct lecturer at the University of Development Studies, Ghana, discusses Ghana’s preparedness for coronavirus cases, writing, “Ghana still has much to do in the coming weeks to prepare for a pandemic as WHO as directed” (2/28).

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Innovative Financing Approaches Could Help Accelerate Progress On WASH Access

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Paying for the Spout: Innovative Financing Could Expand Access to Water
Wania Yad, intern with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, and colleagues discuss financing approaches for global WASH projects, writing, “Although the financing gap is immense, we have the approaches and platforms in place to accelerate progress toward SDG 6 [– to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030]. After all, only 1 percent of the global GDP is needed to ensure water and sanitation for all. Yet it could make a world of difference in the lives of the people who still need access to clean and safe water and sanitation services” (3/2).

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Global Consortium Launches Collaboration To Accelerate Development Of Novel TB Drug Regimens

GSK: First-of-its-kind global collaboration launched to develop transformative treatment regimens for tuberculosis
“[On Thursday,] a consortium of philanthropic, non-profit, and private sector organizations launched a collaboration that aims to accelerate the development of novel ‘pan-TB’ drug regimens for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) that are ready for phase 3 development. The regimens will be designed to have little to no drug resistance and an acceptable safety profile, and be better-tolerated, shorter in duration, and simpler to use than existing options. Such regimens are intended to be a central component of efforts to address the current complexities and challenges of TB treatment…” (2/27).

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From the U.S. Government

President Trump, VP Pence, Members Of White House Coronavirus Task Force Discuss U.S Efforts To Address COVID-19 During Press Conference

White House: Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Conference
This transcript from a press conference presents comments by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on U.S. efforts to address COVID-19 (2/29).

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March Issue Of CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal Available Online

CDC’s “Emerging Infectious Diseases”: Volume 26, Number 3 — March 2020
This issue of CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal contains research articles and letters on several infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, Ebola, and avian influenza (March 2020).

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From KFF

KFF Regularly Updating COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of March 1, 2020
This tracker provides the number of cases and deaths from the novel coronavirus by country, the trends in case and death counts by country, and a global map showing which countries have cases and deaths. The data are drawn directly from official coronavirus situation reports released regularly by the WHO (3/1).

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