KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Could Become COVID-19 Pandemic Epicenter, WHO Warns; U.S. Government Response Too Complex, Experts Say

Reuters: U.S. has potential of becoming coronavirus epicenter, says WHO
“The World Health Organization said on Tuesday it was seeing a ‘very large acceleration’ in coronavirus infections in the United States which had the potential of becoming the new epicenter. Over the past 24 hours, 85 percent of new cases were from Europe and the United States, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters. Of those, 40 percent were from the United States…” (Farge et al., 3/24).

USA TODAY: The U.S. had a chance to learn from anthrax, SARS, H1N1 and Ebola. So why is the federal coronavirus response so messy?
“…In 2018, President Donald Trump adopted a National Biodefense Strategy. It largely followed recommendations of a commission founded and directed by [Robert] Kadlec, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and physician who has held senior positions at the White House, Senate, and Pentagon. Kadlec was appointed to oversee preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services. But the document approved by Trump was a blueprint, not a game plan. The ideas weren’t implemented before COVID-19 arrived in the USA. And the federal government’s response shows it…” (Wagner/Slack, 3/23).

Washington Post: Trump weighs restarting economy despite warnings from U.S. public health officials
“President Trump on Monday said he is considering scaling back steps to constrain the spread of the coronavirus in the next week or two because of concerns that the impact on the economy has become too severe. But loosening restrictions on social distancing and similar measures soon probably would require him to override the internal warnings of senior U.S. health officials, including Anthony S. Fauci, who have said that the United States has not yet felt the worst of the pandemic, according to several people with knowledge of the internal deliberations…” (Dawsey et al., 3/23).

The Atlantic: How the Coronavirus Became an American Catastrophe (Madrigal/Myer, 3/21).

Gizmodo: U.S. State Department Seeks Help From Foreign Aid Recipients For Scarce Medical Supplies (Novak, 3/24).

The Hill: Biden: Trump’s ‘failure of planning and preparation’ worsened coronavirus crisis (Easley, 3/23).

Kaiser Health News: CDC Coronavirus Testing Decision Likely To Haunt Nation For Months To Come (Pradhan, 3/23).

PBS Frontline: “Get Ready”: From Italy’s Doctors, a Dire Warning for America on COVID-19 (Taddonio, 3/23).

POLITICO: Trump works to rewrite narrative on coronavirus response (Kumar, 3/24).

STAT: Desperate for Covid-19 answers, U.S. doctors turn to colleagues in China (Begley, 3/24).

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Experts Express Safety, Supply Concerns Over Malaria Drug Touted By Trump To Treat COVID-19

Wall Street Journal: Trump Claim That Malaria Drugs Treat Coronavirus Sparks Warnings, Shortages
“Health officials across the world are issuing warnings over the use of antimalarial drugs after President Trump’s comments about treating the coronavirus with them sparked panic-buying and overdoses. In recent days, thousands of consumers across Africa and South Asia rushed to stockpile chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, drugs that are usually used to combat malaria, vacuuming up supplies in cities in the developing world, sending prices skyrocketing and prompting panicked warnings from local authorities. In the U.S. and some other developed countries, meantime, some doctors have started to prescribe the drugs against the coronavirus, sparking heated ethical debates because their efficacy has yet to be demonstrated in full-scale clinical studies…” (Parkinson/Gauthier-Villars, 3/23).

Additional coverage of concerns over use of malaria drugs in COVID-19 pandemic is available from Bloomberg, Health24, and MedPage Today.

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U.S., Iran Relations Deteriorate Under Back-And-Forth Over Coronavirus Blame, Sanctions

Washington Post: Fresh barbs fly between Tehran and Washington over who’s to blame for coronavirus’s spread in Iran
“Iran and the United States traded allegations of coronavirus mismanagement on Monday, accusing each other of endangering efforts to fight the pandemic as Iran intensified a campaign to pressure the United States into easing sanctions…” (Sly, 3/23).

Additional coverage of U.S.-Iran relations is available from Bloomberg.

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U.N. SG Appeals For At Least $2B For Poor Countries' Coronavirus Responses, Calls For Global Ceasefire; G20 Leaders Set To Meet Virtually To Discuss Pandemic

AP: In global fight vs. virus, over 1.5 billion told: Stay home
“With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe…” (Geller/Hinnant, 3/24).

Foreign Policy: The Next Wave
“The United Nations is preparing to issue a major funding appeal for more than $1.5 billion on Wednesday to prepare for outbreaks of the new coronavirus in areas suffering some of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, including Gaza, Myanmar, Syria, South Sudan, and Yemen, according to diplomatic and relief officials familiar with the plan…” (Lynch/Gramer, 3/23).

Reuters: U.N. chief wants $2 billion to help poor countries combat coronavirus
“U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said on Monday the world body wants $2 billion to help poor countries combat coronavirus and warned that a massive, coordinated package would also be needed to deal with the pandemic’s social and economic impact around the world…” (Nichols, 3/23).

Reuters: G20 leaders to speak on Thursday about coronavirus, sources say
“Leaders from the Group of 20 major economies will convene a video conference on Thursday to discuss the coronavirus epidemic, multiple sources told Reuters, amid criticism that the group has been slow to respond to the global crisis. G20 finance ministers and central bankers agreed during a separate video conference on Monday to develop an ‘action plan’ to respond to the outbreak, which the International Monetary Fund expects will trigger a global recession…” (Kalin, 3/24).

U.N. News: COVID-19: U.N. chief calls for global ceasefire to focus on ‘the true fight of our lives’
“In an appeal issued on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged warring parties across the world to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger battle against COVID-19: the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind. ‘The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,’ he said. ‘That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives’…” (3/23).

U.S. News & World Report: Developing World Braces for Coronavirus
“…Roughly 3 billion people, nearly 40% of the global population, almost all in developing nations, lack ‘basic hand washing facilities,’ according to a joint study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations’ children’s agency, UNICEF. Many of them are unlikely to be able to afford hand sanitizer, either, although it is possible that governments and aid agencies may yet distribute this to vulnerable populations. That fact means that the toll of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, both in human suffering and economic output, could be truly catastrophic for some of the world’s poorest nations in Africa and Latin America if the virus takes hold there…” (Tegel, 3/23).

VOA: U.N. Chief Calls for Global Ceasefire in Face of Pandemic
“…As of Monday, there were more than 350,000 confirmed cases worldwide of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. More than 15,000 people have died. Guterres urged warring parties to silence their guns, end airstrikes, create humanitarian corridors, and open windows for diplomacy…” (Besheer, 3/23).

Wall Street Journal: Countries Roll Out Restrictions to Curb Coronavirus
“A growing number of U.S. states urged residents to stay home Monday as cases of the novel coronavirus surged past 40,000 in the country and more governments around the world announced nationwide lockdowns. … Meanwhile, governments in other parts of the world stepped up efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, as cases surged past 367,000 Monday and the number of deaths surpassed 16,000. The United Kingdom and South Africa announced nationwide lockdowns Monday, only allowing residents to leave their homes under specific, essential circumstances…” (Calfas et al., 3/23).

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Media Outlets Examine Various Nations' COVID-19 Responses, Effective Strategies

AFRICA

Bloomberg: Africa Needs $100 Billion Stimulus to Combat Virus (Soto, 3/23).

Reuters: African finance ministers call for $100 billion stimulus, debt holiday (Bavier, 3/23).

ASIA

Devex: To contain the spread of coronavirus, Manila grapples with lockdown (Ravelo, 3/24).

New York Times: How South Korea Flattened the Curve (Fisher/Sang-Hun, 3/23).

PRI: North Korea still officially claims zero coronavirus cases (Moon, 3/23).

Reuters: Taiwan says WHO ignored its coronavirus questions at start of outbreak (Lee et al., 3/24).

Reuters: Three-pronged distancing most effective at controlling COVID-19: study (Kelland, 3/24).

EUROPE

AP: Europe eyes smartphone location data to stem virus spread (Bajak et al., 3/24).

The Hill: New coronavirus cases drop in Italy for second day (Coleman, 3/23).

PRI: Russia is underreporting coronavirus cases, Russian doctor says (Ofman et al., 3/23).

The Telegraph: How Britain has fallen far behind other countries in coronavirus testing — and why it matters (Knapton/Donnelly, 3/23).

Washington Post: Italy’s coronavirus deaths are staggering. They may be more preview than anomaly (Harlan et al., 3/23).

LATIN AMERICA

Reuters: Brazil’s Bolsonaro walks back decree to suspend worker pay amid coronavirus (Marcello et al., 3/23).

Reuters: Bolivia sex workers protest coronavirus curfew (Machicao/O’Brien, 3/23).

MIDDLE EAST

Al Jazeera: War-torn Syria braces for lockdown after first virus case (3/23).

U.N. News: UNICEF sounds alarm over water cuts in Syria as efforts ramp up to prevent COVID-19 spread (3/23).

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U.S. To Cut Aid To Afghanistan After Failure To Reach Peace Deal, Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

AP: U.S. shames Afghan leaders’ obstinance as pandemic looms
“Washington’s unprecedented threat to cut $1 billion in Afghanistan funding — a response to the refusal of rivals in Kabul to work together to advance peace — comes at a time when the impoverished nation risks being overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic. … While the rest of the world struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, Afghans have vented their frustrations on social networks and local media over the government’s lack of action…” (Gannon/Faiez, 3/24).

Additional reporting on the planned U.S. aid cuts to Afghanistan is available from POLITICO and TIME.

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Former DRC Health Minister Sentenced For Embezzling Ebola Funds

Reuters: Former DR Congo health minister convicted of embezzling Ebola funds
“A former health minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo and his financial advisor were sentenced on Monday to five years of forced labor for embezzling more than $400,000 from the country’s Ebola response funds, a court order showed. Oly Ilunga was health minister for seven months at the height of the Ebola epidemic in eastern Congo, which has killed more than 2,200 people since mid-2018. It is winding down now, with no new cases recorded in over a month. President Felix Tshisekedi stripped him of his role managing the Ebola response last July and he resigned from the government days later, criticizing actions taken by Tshisekedi. He was arrested in September…” (Bujakera, 3/23).

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More News In Global Health

AFP/France 24: Hand-washing: a luxury millions of Yemenis can’t afford (3/24).

The Atlantic: Why the Coronavirus Has Been So Successful (Yong, 3/20).

Borgen Magazine: Ending Male Childhood Marriage (Smethers, 3/21).

The Guardian: ‘Everyone will be contaminated’: prisons face strict coronavirus controls (Summers, 3/23).

Reuters: Coronavirus sparks soul-searching over travel-heavy climate diplomacy (Rowling, 3/23).

Roll Call: Social media data could greatly aid in tracking COVID-19 worldwide (DeChiaro, 3/24).

STAT: AbbVie waives all worldwide restrictions on making generic copies of its Kaletra HIV pill (Silverman, 3/23).

STAT: As coronavirus spreads, thousands of foreign doctors could be blocked from U.S. entry, group warns (Branswell, 3/23).

U.N. News: Water access critical to beating back COVID-19 spread in slum areas (3/23).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorials, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic

New York Times: Call It ‘Coronavirus’
Editorial Board

“…Once again, a mysterious, fast-spreading and sometimes lethal disease is exacerbating racism and hatred … As the coronavirus has spread from its beachhead in Wuhan, China, old anti-Asian prejudices have spread with it … A time of great fear and danger requires solidarity, humanity, sacrifice, and hope, and not hysteria or hatred. That should be the message of the world’s political, social, religious, and corporate leaders as they race to find ways to cope with the lethal virus. … It is more than unfortunate, then, that President Trump, some members of his cabinet, and some conservative politicians have opted to fan the bigotry by deliberately using the term ‘Wuhan virus’ or ‘Chinese virus.’ … The xenophobia and prejudices that result from naming new infectious diseases after places, people, or animals are the reasons the World Health Organization has urged against doing so, and instead using generic descriptive terms like ‘coronavirus.’ … In the end, though, the anti-Asian hatreds spread by the coronavirus are not solely the product of politics, but of the deep fears that have always accompanied the outbreak of lethal pathogens. It is for all Americans to try, in whatever ways they can, to remain united and compassionate as the disease invades all facets of our lives” (3/23).

Washington Post: The coronavirus pandemic may mark a decline in U.S. leadership
Editorial Board

“The COVID-19 epidemic is inflicting grievous damage on American lives and the economy. It may also mark a decline in U.S. leadership in the world. … The cause is straightforward: President Trump has abdicated the role played by U.S. presidents in every previous global crisis of the past century, which is to step forward to offer remedies, support other nations, and coordinate multilateral responses. … Mr. Trump’s principal engagement with the world since the novel coronavirus began spreading internationally has been to shut down travel between the United States and other nations. … Mr. Trump is trying to place blame for the pandemic on China by childishly referring to the ‘Chinese virus.’ But he has opened the way for the Xi regime to cast itself as the new global leader filling the shoes of the United States. … If so, Mr. Trump will bear responsibility for more than a slow and bumbling response to the epidemic at home; he will have presided over the eclipse of the United States as the world’s convening power” (3/23).

China.org.cn: Xinhua Commentary: A call for global action for common health
Shi Xiaomeng, journalist with Xinhua (3/23).

The Conversation: Coronavirus vaccine must be affordable and accessible
Jason Nickerson, humanitarian affairs adviser at L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa (3/23).

The Conversation: Pandemics act on social fault lines: lessons for COVID-19 from HIV and AIDS
Carla Tsampiras, senior lecturer in medical and health humanities at the University of Cape Town (3/23).

Devex: Opinion: How debt burdens could cripple Africa’s COVID-19 response
David Archer, head of participation and public services at ActionAid, co-founder of the Global Campaign for Education, chair of the Board of the Right to Education Initiative, and chair of the Strategy and Impact Committee of the Global Partnership for Education (3/24).

Devex: Opinion: How to advocate effectively in the age of COVID-19
Donna Bowater, senior associate at Marchmont Communications (3/23).

Foreign Affairs: The Coronavirus Is Exacerbating Sectarian Tensions in the Middle East
Toby Matthiesen, senior research fellow in international relations of the Middle East at the University of Oxford (3/23).

Foreign Policy: Without Mass Testing, the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Keep Spreading
Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh (3/23).

Global Health NOW: COVID-19’s Painful Lesson in Leadership
Steven M. Lieberman, nonresident fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution (3/22).

The Hill: Blunting a global pandemic: An open memo to the new head of USAID
R. David Harden, managing director of the Georgetown Strategy Group (3/23).

The Hill: A scarcity of life-saving resources during COVID-19 pandemic
Monica Schoch-Spana, medical anthropologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (3/22).

IPS: Fighting Coronavirus: It’s Time to Invest in Universal Public Health
Isabel Ortiz, director of the Global Social Justice Program at the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University, and Thomas Stubbs, senior lecturer in international relations at Royal Holloway at the University of London and research associate in political economy at the Centre for Business Research at the University of Cambridge (3/23).

New Yorker: Keeping the Coronavirus from Infecting Health Care Workers
Atul Gawande, surgeon, public health researcher, and staff writer at the New Yorker (3/21).

New York Times: Fourteen Days. That’s the Most Time We Have to Defeat Coronavirus
Ezekiel J. Emanuel, vice provost of global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania (3/23).

New York Times: How Trump Sanctions on Iran Will Worsen the Pandemic
Narges Bajoghli, assistant professor of Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University and author, and Mahsa Rouhi, research fellow at the Nonproliferation and Nuclear Policy program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (3/24).

New York Times: Mexico, the Coronavirus and the Hugging President
Ioan Grillo, contributing opinion writer at the New York Times and author (3/23).

New York Times: Letters to the Editor: The Wrong Way to Fight Coronavirus
Sten H. Vermund, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, and colleagues (3/23).

POLITICO Magazine: No, Coronavirus Isn’t Proof We Need Socialism
Bill Scher, contributing editor to POLITICO Magazine and co-host of the Bloggingheads.tv show ‘The DMZ’ (3/24).

Project Syndicate: Flattening the COVID-19 Curve in Developing Countries
Ricardo Hausmann, professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of the Harvard Growth Lab (3/24).

STAT: Antibiotic resistance: the hidden threat lurking behind Covid-19
Julie L. Gerberding, chief patient officer and executive vice president for strategic communications, global public policy, and population health at Merck (3/23).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Opinion: Coronavirus and the least developed countries
Alpaslan Ozerdem, dean of George Mason University’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution (3/23).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Opinion: What the fight against tuberculosis can teach us about fighting COVID-19
Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (3/23).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Health Community Releases Statements, Announcements, Blog Posts On COVID-19 Pandemic

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund Supports Countries in Response to COVID-19 (3/23).

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: COVID-19 Pandemic: Statement from Executive Director Peter Sands (3/18).

Harvard Business Review: Will Governments Restrict Foreign Access to Pandemic Supplies?
Henry Farrell, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, and Abraham L. Newman, professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and Department of Government, and director of Georgetown’s Mortara Center for International Studies (3/23).

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: COVID-19 virus volcanoes: A global ring of fire pan-epidemics
Daniel Lucey, infectious diseases physician and adjunct professor of infectious diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center, senior scholar at the Georgetown University O’Neil Institute, anthropology research associate at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Global Health Committee (3/23).

UNICEF: U.N. Secretary-General to launch COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (3/23).

U.K. Government: Vaccine trials among recipients of £20 million coronavirus research investment (3/23).

World Economic Forum: It’s time to play offense — Monday’s COVID-19 WHO briefing
Linda Lacina, digital editor at the World Economic Forum (3/23).

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CGD Expert Addresses Status Of Trump Administration's W-GDP Initiative

Center for Global Development: W-GDP One Year On: Taking Stock and Looking Forward
Megan McDonnell, assistant director of the Gender Program and senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Development, discusses the status of the Trump administration’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP). McDonnell writes, “Its [one-year] anniversary presents an opportunity to take stock of progress to date and reflect on how W-GDP can be strengthened going forward. If adequately resourced and evidence-based in its implementation, W-GDP could meaningfully improve the lives of women in low- and middle-income countries by expanding their economic opportunities. But at present, W-GDP runs the risk of becoming too narrow in scope to realize impact at scale. The new W-GDP Index and recently introduced authorizing legislation appear to be further proof of a diminished agenda — but there’s an opportunity to turn this trend around. To start, W-GDP and the legislation authorizing it should adopt a more evidence-based, comprehensive approach to examining the diverse constraints preventing women’s equal economic participation…” (3/23).

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WHO Issues New TB Prevention Guidance; Global Health Community Recognizes World TB Day

WHO: New WHO recommendations to prevent tuberculosis aim to save millions of lives
“New World Health Organization (WHO) guidance will help countries accelerate efforts to stop people with tuberculosis (TB) infection becoming sick with TB by giving them preventive treatment. A quarter of the world’s population is estimated to be infected with TB bacteria. These people are neither sick nor contagious. However, they are at greater risk of developing TB disease, especially those with weakened immunity. Offering them TB preventive treatment will not only protect them from becoming sick but also cut down on the risk of transmission in the community…” (3/24).

Aurum Institute: New, Shorter Treatment To Prevent TB To Be Rolled Out In Five High-Burden TB Countries (3/24).

The Global Fund: Fighting Tuberculosis: Lessons for COVID-19
Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund (3/23).

The Global Fund: World Tuberculosis Day (3/24).

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders: World TB Day 2020: As coronavirus spreads, preventing and treating tuberculosis must remain a priority (3/24).

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders: COVID-19: Avoiding a ‘second tragedy’ for those with TB (3/23).

UNAIDS: Tuberculosis — good progress, but not enough (3/23).

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From the U.S. Government

President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members Of Coronavirus Task Force Provide Update On COVID-19 During Press Briefing

White House: Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing
In this press briefing held Monday, President Trump, Vice President Pence, members of the White House Coronavirus task force, and other administration officials discuss developments regarding the U.S. response to COVID-19 (3/24).

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State Department Briefing Addresses Agency's Efforts To Support, Evacuate U.S. Citizens Abroad Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

U.S. Department of State: Briefing With Senior State Department Officials On COVID-19: Updates on Health Impact and Assistance for American Citizens Abroad
This briefing, addressing the State Department’s efforts to support and evacuate U.S. citizens from other countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is part of a series of briefings from various State Department officials discussing the agency’s COVID-19 activities (3/23).

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U.S. State Department Publishes Fact Sheet On COVID-19 Disinformation From Iran

U.S. Department of State: Iran: COVID-19 Disinformation Fact Sheet
This fact sheet discusses coronavirus in Iran, including Iran’s response to the virus (3/23).

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USAID Official Discusses Agency's 'Journey To Self Reliance' Approach To Foreign Assistance In Blog Post

USAID/Medium: How the Journey to Self-Reliance is Changing the Way USAID Works
Chris Maloney, acting assistant administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Africa, and the agency’s lead for the Journey to Self-Reliance strategic pivot, discusses USAID’s approach to providing foreign assistance to other countries (3/23).

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From KFF

KFF Resources Examine U.S. Global Health Assets In LMICs Amid Outbreak, U.S. Military's COVID-19 Response, Other Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: Preparing for COVID-19 in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Leveraging U.S. Global Health Assets
This data note assesses where the U.S. government has existing global health assets that could be mobilized when and if needed to assist in the COVID-19 response in low- and middle-income countries (Kates/Moss/Oum, 3/20).

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of March 23, 2020 (3/23).

KFF: The U.S. Military and the Domestic Coronavirus Response: Key Questions (Michaud/Moss, 3/20).

KFF: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak Glossary (3/18).

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

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KFF Updates Fact Sheet On Global TB, U.S. Government Efforts For World TB Day

KFF: The U.S. Government and Global Tuberculosis Efforts
Released in conjunction with World TB Day, which takes place annually on March 24, this fact sheet explains the U.S. government’s role in addressing the global tuberculosis epidemic, including the history of U.S. involvement and funding trends (3/23).

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