KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO DG Maintains Containment Of COVID-19 Possible; More Cases Being Reported Outside China Now

AP: Virus alarms sound worldwide, but China sees crisis ebbing
“The virus epidemic spread through Iran’s parliament, travel warnings broadened to include Italy and other parts of Europe, and South Korea prepared to pump billions into relief efforts Tuesday as the epidemic firmed its hold around the globe. … Worldwide, more than 90,000 people have been sickened and 3,100 have died from the virus. A constantly expanding list of at least 70 countries have been affected, with Ukraine the latest to report a first case. In China, the count of new virus cases dropped again Tuesday, with just 125 new cases after a six-week low of 202 a day earlier. It’s still by far the hardest-hit country, with 80,151 cases and 2,943 deaths. China’s ambassador to the United Nations said the country was winning its battle against COVID-19…” (Moritsugu et al., 3/3).

NPR: Coronavirus Update: Containment Is Possible, WHO Says
“The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 poses a unique challenge to health authorities, the head of the World Health Organization said on Monday as he gave an update on the viral epidemic… But he added that the virus is also showing signs that it can be contained…” (Chappell, 3/2).

Reuters: South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan are greatest virus concern: WHO
“…In the previous 24 hours, almost nine times as many coronavirus cases were reported outside China as inside, but WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the spread could be halted — unlike seasonal influenza. ‘We are in uncharted territory — we have never seen before a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission but at same time which can also be contained with the right measures,’ Tedros told a news conference in Geneva…” (Nebehay, 3/2).

Additional coverage of the WHO’s update on the COVID-19 outbreak is available from CNBC, The Hill (2), Los Angeles Times, Reuters, Science, U.N. News, and Washington Post.

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Congress Close To Approving Emergency Spending For COVID-19 Response; Outbreak Tests U.S. Government's Readiness

Bloomberg: Virus Exposes U.S. Unreadiness, Testing Trump’s Grip on Crisis
“President Donald Trump insists his administration is ready for a coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., yet reports of new cases in several states over the weekend will test his effort to project control over the spreading infection. With global markets sliding on concerns the virus could touch off a worldwide recession, Trump now faces the most serious challenge of his crisis-management skills — one that could imperil his bid for a second term. So far, he has painted any criticism of his handling of coronavirus as an attempt to undermine his presidency…” (Wingrove et al., 3/2).

The Hill: Congress closes in on deal for $7.5 billion in coronavirus funding
“…Negotiators and aides say they are on the precipice of a deal amid growing concerns of a widespread outbreak of the virus within the United States. The discussions are focused on providing $7.5 billion in funding to combat the coronavirus, one source familiar with the talks told The Hill. A second source said negotiators were looking at ‘approximately’ $7.5 billion, while noting that the figure wasn’t ‘set in stone,’ and that they expected the agreement to unveiled on Tuesday…” (Carney, 3/2).

Science Speaks: COVID-19: Groups urge Congress to provide emergency funding needed for domestic, global coronavirus responses
“A coalition of medical, health care, health policy, and other groups are calling on the United States Congress to swiftly and meaningfully fund emergency multifaceted domestic and international responses to contain the novel coronavirus…” (Barton, 3/2).

Additional coverage of the U.S. government response to the COVID-19 outbreak is available from The Hill (2) (3), NBC, POLITICO, Reuters, and Washington Post.

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Media Outlets Examine Pharmaceutical Industry, U.S. Government Efforts To Develop COVID-19 Treatments, Vaccines

ABC News: Trump to meet with pharmaceutical companies on vaccine as coronavirus spreads (Phelps, 3/2).

CNBC: Sanofi Pasteur researcher warns against overconfidence with coronavirus vaccine development (Stankiewicz, 3/2).

The Hill: U.S. military working to develop coronavirus vaccine (Mitchell, 3/2).

STAT: The coronavirus could help pharma reset its reputation in Washington (Florko, 3/3).

STAT: A detailed guide to the coronavirus drugs and vaccines in development (Garde, 3/2).

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North Korea Likely Unprepared For Widespread COVID-19 Outbreak; China Calls On U.S., Other Countries To Lift Sanctions Against Nation

AP: North Korean swagger may conceal brewing virus disaster
“…As a new and frightening virus closes in around it, North Korea presents itself as a fortress, tightening its borders as cadres of health officials stage a monumental disinfection and monitoring program. That image of world-defying impregnability, however, may belie a brewing disaster. … North Korea, which claims zero infections, may be vastly unprepared for a virus that is testing much more developed countries across the globe — and even that infections could already be exploding within its borders…” (Klug, 3/3).

AP: China says North Korea is suffering ‘negatively’ from virus
“China’s U.N. ambassador said Monday that North Korea is suffering ‘negatively’ from the coronavirus and called for greater flexibility from the United States and other countries on lifting sanctions against the country…” (Lederer, 3/3).

Additional coverage of the coronavirus and North Korea is available from Fox News and TIME.

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Finance Officials Work To Mitigate Economic Impacts Of Coronavirus Outbreak

The Hill: Fed pressed from all sides to counter coronavirus damage
“The Federal Reserve is under pressure from Wall Street to cut interest rates as the financial sector braces for the unknown economic toll of the coronavirus and after markets suffered a weeklong free fall…” (Lane, 3/2).

Reuters: G7 finance officials pledge all possible steps to beat coronavirus
“Group of Seven finance officials said on Tuesday they would take all possible steps to safeguard the global economy from the spreading coronavirus outbreak, with Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda promising a ‘good message’…” (Kihara et al., 3/3).

Reuters: China’s U.N. envoy says Beijing confident it will meet economic goals despite coronavirus
“China’s U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun, said on Monday that while the coronavirus outbreak has had a ‘negative impact’ on the country’s economy, Beijing was working to revitalize and was confident it would reach its economic goals for 2020…” (Nichols, 3/2).

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News Outlets Examine Challenges For Media Organizations, Journalists During COVID-19 Outbreak

AP: Media faces challenges in covering coronavirus outbreak
“…News organizations trying to responsibly report on the growing health crisis are confronted with the task of conveying its seriousness without provoking panic, keeping up with a torrent of information while much remains a mystery and continually advising readers and viewers how to stay safe…” (Bauder, 3/2).

The Guardian: Battling coronavirus misinformation in the age of social media
“Public health professionals trying to provide the nation with facts about the spread of coronavirus are battling a wave of misinformation, as they wrestle with the first major British health crisis of the smartphone era…” (Watterson/Sabbagh, 3/3).

SciDev.Net: Journalism in the time of the coronavirus
“As the threat of a COVID-19 pandemic becomes closer to reality, media practitioners must face up to the possibility that they may end up being more than non-participant observers…” (Adriano, 3/2).

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U.N. Cuts Commission On Status Of Women Meeting Back From 1 Week To 1 Day Over Coronavirus

AP: U.N. drastically curtails women’s conference for 12,000 people
“The United Nations is drastically curtailing a conference that had been expected to bring up to 12,000 people from its 193 member nations to New York next week for a major women’s conference because of the spread of COVID-19 virus…” (Lederer, 3/2).

Reuters: Two-week U.N. gender equality meeting cut to one day over coronavirus
“…The Commission on the Status of Women will meet on March 9 to adopt a draft political declaration marking the 25th anniversary of the an historic women’s rights declaration signed in Beijing…” (Nichols, 3/2).

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Devex Examines U.S. Aid Community's Role In Educating Political Candidates On Development Issues

Devex: U.S. aid community works to turn election candidates into development advocates
“Development issues rarely factor into U.S. political campaigns, but that does not mean aid advocates are sitting idly by as election season kicks into high gear. … For members of the U.S. development community, the goal during an election year often has less to do with drawing public attention to their issues than with educating — and influencing — the candidates themselves…” (Igoe/Saldinger, 3/3).

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U.S. Pressuring U.N. To Freeze Aid Deliveries To Yemen Amid Houthi Obstruction

Foreign Policy: Pompeo to Pressure U.N. Over Aid to Yemen
“The Trump administration is pressuring the United Nations to scale back vital aid operations in Yemen as Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents seek greater control over how humanitarian assistance is delivered in territory under their control. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to travel to U.N. headquarters on March 6 for a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, during which Pompeo will raise concerns about what he sees as the U.N.’s sluggish effort to freeze aid deliveries in the face of persistent Houthi obstruction and seizure of lifesaving relief, according to diplomatic sources. Pompeo is expected to single out the U.N. relief coordinator, Mark Lowcock of the United Kingdom, for resisting U.S. appeals to take a more aggressive approach and suspend more relief programs in Yemen, those sources told Foreign Policy…” (Lynch/Gramer, 3/2).

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U.K. Government Exploring Purchase Of Hospital Ship For Humanitarian, Military Operations

Financial Times: Foreign aid cash to pay for Royal Navy hospital ship
“The British government is exploring using its international aid budget to purchase a multimillion pound hospital ship that could be used for humanitarian relief and assisting military operations. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, minister for international development, has ordered officials to examine ways of broadening the use of her department’s budget, which represents 0.7 percent of national income, to better chime with the aims of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government…” (Payne, 3/2).

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New Humanitarian Examines Issues Discussed At WHO Executive Board Meeting

New Humanitarian: The WHO’s other priorities: PHEICs, health worker safety, and a push for preparedness
“Against the backdrop of the unfolding coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization held its annual executive board meeting last month and made new commitments to highlight attacks on healthcare workers, encourage governments to better prepare for health emergencies, and re-evaluate its global alert system. … Gathering in early February, the 34-member board identified issues to be addressed later in the year at the group’s decision-making session, the World Health Assembly…” (Patnaik, 3/2).

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More News In Global Health

The Guardian: ‘Yellow bindis’ mean high-risk: India’s new health map for women and children (Dhillon, 3/3).

The Guardian: ‘Health workers are too scared to enter’: the fight to treat HIV in a São Paulo favela (Johnson, 3/2).

Newsweek: Air pollution kills more people prematurely than smoking, malaria and HIV/AIDS, study finds (Osborne, 3/2).

Reuters: Chile cracks down on femicide against pregnant women, minors, girlfriends (Ramos/Sherwood, 3/2).

The Telegraph: The Taliban doesn’t fear polio vaccination — it fears air strikes (Farmer, 3/2).

U.N. News: As children freeze to death in Syria, aid officials call for major cross-border delivery boost (3/2).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Issues Related To COVID-19

Washington Post: The time has come to cash out our pandemic bonds
Editorial Board

“…[Almost three years ago, the World Bank] launched a specialized pandemic bond and derivatives fund that would pay a handsome interest rate to investors, on the understanding that investors would lose money if the bonds were needed to fight a spreading disease. The pandemic bonds have yet to pay out. Now is the time. … The World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility grew out of the Ebola pandemic in 2014-2015 … The PEF has two channels: one an insurance window that would pay out from the bonds and derivatives, designed to help the poorest countries cope with a cross-border, large-scale outbreak of certain diseases; the other, a cash window for containment of illnesses not eligible for the first. The cash window has been used for the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now it’s time to open the PEF insurance window. … Covid-19 has caused more than 3,000 deaths around the world, and the number is growing. The maximum potential payout from the PEF insurance window is $195.83 million. Investors will suffer, but they knew the risks. The World Bank should open the window as soon as possible” (3/2).

The Atlantic: The Coronavirus Is No 1918 Pandemic
Jeremy Brown, director of the Office of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health (3/3).

The Atlantic: Trump’s Playbook Is Terribly Ill-Suited to a Pandemic
Quinta Jurecic, contributing writer at the Atlantic and managing editor of Lawfare, and Benjamin Wittes, contributing writer at the Atlantic and editor in chief of Lawfare (3/3).

The Atlantic: What Trump Could Do Right Now to Keep Workers Safe From the Coronavirus
David Michaels, professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University and author (3/2).

Bloomberg: We Need to Prepare for Pandemics. They’ll Keep Coming
Anjani Trivedi, Bloomberg opinion columnist (3/2).

CNBC: Op-Ed: Central banks are doing enough for now to help manage the viral epidemic
Michael Ivanovitch, independent analyst (3/2).

Foreign Affairs: Pandemics Ravaged Iran Long Before the Coronavirus
Amir A. Afkhami, associate professor at George Washington University and author (3/2).

Foreign Affairs: What the World Can Learn From China’s Experience With Coronavirus
Thomas J. Bollyky, director of the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations and author, and Vin Gupta, affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington Medical Center (3/2).

The Hill: Protecting Americans from infectious disease threats, today and tomorrow
Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives (3/2).

New York Times: China’s Coronavirus Crisis Is Just Beginning
Geremie R. Barmé, historian and editor of China Heritage (3/3).

New York Times: Paranoid Politics Goes Viral
Paul Krugman, opinion columnist at the New York Times and distinguished professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center (3/2).

New York Times: The Coronavirus Is Us
Michael Marder, professor at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) (3/3).

New York Times: Big Pharma May Pose an Obstacle to Vaccine Development
Gerald Posner, author (3/2).

Project Syndicate: The Two Dark Sides of COVID-19
Peter Singer, professor at Princeton University and founder of The Life You Can Save, and Paola Cavalieri, independent researcher and author (3/2).

STAT: The coronavirus exposes our health care system’s weaknesses. We can be stronger
Matthew Herper, senior writer for medicine at STAT (3/2).

Washington Post: How to build public trust in the face of coronavirus
Ezekiel J. Emanuel, chair of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania (3/2).

Washington Post: Public health officials can beat coronavirus — if the White House lets them
Michael Gerson, columnist at the Washington Post (3/2).

Washington Post: The case for a free or inexpensive coronavirus vaccine
Deborah Levine, historian of medicine and associate professor in the department of health policy and management at Providence College (3/2).

Washington Post: How the coronavirus is shaking up Asia’s political order
William Pesek, commentator and author (3/2).

Washington Post: On coronavirus, Trump needs the ones he hates: Experts and journalists
Eugene Robinson, columnist at the Washington Post (3/2).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Global Health Community Publishes Blog Posts, Press Releases On COVID-19

ASCE News: Coronavirus a Wake-Up Call for Civil Engineers
Michael Paddock, member of ASCE, civil engineer, and surveyor (2/27).

BMJ Opinion: Tom Jefferson: Covid 19 — many questions, no clear answers
Tom Jefferson, epidemiologist and Cochrane researcher (3/2).

IMF: How the IMF Can Help Countries Address the Economic Impact of Coronavirus (3/2).

ONE: How Nigeria should prepare for coronavirus
Serah Ugbabe, Nigeria director at the ONE Campaign (3/2).

U.N. Dispatch: The Coronavirus Poses a Big Threat to Refugees and People in Humanitarian Crisis
Mark Leon Goldberg, editor of U.N. Dispatch and host of the Global Dispatches Podcast (3/2).

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U.S. Coordinator For Power Africa Discusses Initiative's Challenges, Progress

American Foreign Service Association: Energy Diplomacy Works: How Power Africa Redefines Development Partnerships
Andrew M. Herscowitz, member of the senior foreign service with the rank of minister counselor and U.S. coordinator for Power Africa, discusses the work of Power Africa, which aims to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, including challenges faced and progress made (March 2020).

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March 2020 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The March 2020 WHO Bulletin features articles on various topics, including an editorial on data sharing for COVID-19, a news article on mending the medicines supply chain, a research article on improving quality of care for patients with chronic diseases in Kazakhstan, and a perspective on WHO’s global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol (March 2020).

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CSIS Releases March 2020 Issue Of Global Health Policy Center Monthly Newsletter

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Global Health Policy Center Monthly Update
In the March 2020 CSIS Global Health Policy Center Newsletter, J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of CSIS and director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center (GHPC), provides a spotlight on the coronavirus outbreak, featuring a podcast hosted by H. Andrew Schwartz, CSIS chief communications officer, on the scientific, political, and economic ramifications of the outbreak. The newsletter also features other global health-related publications, podcast episodes, and past and upcoming events hosted by CSIS (March 2020).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Announces $37M In Emergency Reserve Fund Financing To Address COVID-19

USAID: Statement by USAID Administrator Mark Green on the Commitment of $37 Million in Assistance to Respond to Novel Coronavirus COVID-19
“The U.S. Government announced [on Monday] a commitment of $37 million in financing from the Emergency Reserve Fund for Contagious Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for 25 countries affected by novel coronavirus COVID-19 or at high risk of its spread. The U.S. Government is providing these funds to the World Health Organization, other multilateral institutions, and programs led by USAID’s implementing partners. These are the first U.S. Government funds committed from the pledge of up to $100 million announced by the U.S. Department of State on February 7, 2020. Because an infectious-disease threat anywhere can be a threat everywhere, we call on other donors to contribute to the effort to combat COVID-19 as well…” (3/2).

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CDC MMWR Article Discusses Implementation Of HIV PrEP In 35 PEPFAR-Supported Country, Regional Programs

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Expansion of HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis to 35 PEPFAR-Supported Early Program Adopters, October 2016-September 2018
Gaston Djomand, medical epidemiologist at the Division of Global HIV and TB at CDC’s Center for Global Health, and colleagues discuss the implementation of PrEP in 35 PEPFAR-supported country and regional programs, writing, “PrEP implementation in PEPFAR-supported country or regional programs is gradually increasing among general and key populations. Scale-up of this HIV prevention method in all populations at substantial risk and sharing best practices could contribute to faster HIV epidemic control. Cost-effectiveness and mathematical modeling studies might be useful to help identify subpopulations for PrEP delivery to achieve the greatest HIV prevention impact in resource-limited settings, including other PEPFAR programs” (2/28).

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USAID Blog Post Discusses Efforts To Support Nepal's LGBT Community

USAID/Medium: Promoting an Inclusive Nepal
Pamala Horugavye, former senior development outreach and communication specialist for USAID’s Mission in Nepal, discusses how USAID partners with “agents of change” to support Nepal’s LGBT community and profiles Pareena Chaudhary, a 40-year-old transgender woman from Nepalgunj, Nepal, who holds home-based health classes (2/28).

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From KFF

KFF Regularly Updating COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of March 2, 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 (3/2).

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