KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

News Outlets Examine Global Political, Financial Responses To COVID-19 Pandemic

The Atlantic: The Pandemic’s Geopolitical Aftershocks Are Coming
“With most European countries confident that they are past the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, their attention is turning to the chance of its resurgence once society returns to some semblance of normal. But beyond the epidemiological challenges lies a slowly amassing threat that is not pathological in nature, but economic, political, and military. This is the geopolitical second wave, and its power is already starting to concern Western leaders…” (McTague, 5/18).

Bloomberg: Vaccine Nationalism Puts Global Advocate on Covid Front Line
“As the coronavirus spreads around the world and the death toll tops 300,000, it’s sparking a race for a vaccine that could leave poorer nations behind. Seth Berkley saw it coming. ‘The natural instinct of political leaders is to protect their own populations,’ said Berkley, chief executive officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, an international organization that aims to improve access to inoculations against deadly diseases. ‘Of course that’s what they should do, but they need to understand part of that is making sure the world is protected’…” (Paton, 5/16).

Devex: Who leads the response against COVID-19 in aid organizations?
“The coronavirus has disrupted the aid industry. Donors and aid organizations are finding ways to effectively respond to the crisis, which has now affected over 200 countries and territories, with over 4.5 million confirmed cases and over 300,000 deaths globally. Aid organizations have adopted different structures and set-ups in response to the pandemic…” (Ravelo, 5/18).

Devex: NGOs say most COVID-19 funding is stuck in multilateral system
“The U.K. government must increase humanitarian funding to front-line NGOs to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, politicians and aid leaders insisted Friday — saying that less than 2% of funding committed under the Global Humanitarian Response Plan has so far made it to NGOs…” (Worley, 5/15).

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E.U. Draft Resolution Calling For Coronavirus Inquiry Expected To Be Endorsed By WHA; China Pledges $2B Over 2 Years, Backs Review Of Global COVID-19 Response

ABC (Australia): Greg Hunt ‘expects’ push for coronavirus probe to be endorsed by WHA
“Almost 120 nations have now backed an international push for a coronavirus inquiry, with Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt saying it is ‘expected to be endorsed’ at the World Health Assembly in the next two days. Government MPs claimed vindication yesterday after 62 nations backed a European Union (E.U.) draft motion calling for an ‘impartial, independent, and comprehensive evaluation’ of the ‘international health response to COVID-19.’ A group of more than 50 African nations has also thrown its weight behind the group, meaning 116 countries are now co-sponsoring the draft motion…” (Dziedzic, 5/17).

AP: China announces $2 billion in virus help at WHO assembly
“China will provide $2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic, President Xi Jinping said Monday, rallying around the World Health Organization and its efforts even as the Trump administration has [frozen] funding for the U.N. health agency. … The $2 billion over the next two years will support COVID-19 response efforts, particularly in developing countries, Xi said…” (Keaten/Cheng, 5/18).

AP: Taiwan: Won’t press for World Health Assembly participation
“Taiwan will not press for participation at the World Health Assembly beginning Monday, but will continue to donate medical supplies abroad and protest China’s ‘two-faced behavior’ that excludes it from such forums, the island’s foreign minister said…” (5/18).

Reuters: China defends handling of coronavirus, backs review of global response under WHO
“China’s president called on Monday for an independent review of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic under the World Health Organization once the virus is under control, and defended Beijing’s own handling of the pandemic. … The World Health Assembly is expected to discuss a resolution being presented by the European Union that calls for an independent evaluation of the WHO’s performance under its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Names on a draft resolution seen by Reuters showed support from 116 of the 194 countries in the WHO…” (Nebehay et al., 5/18).

Wall Street Journal: Pandemic Review Still in Balance as China, U.S. Weigh Response
“…It isn’t clear if the resolution, to be considered at a WHO summit likely on Tuesday, will be blocked by the Trump administration, which has pushed for an inquiry much more squarely targeted at China. Nor is it clear if Beijing will accept the resolution since China has opposed any inquiry that could blame the country for its failure to stop the virus when it first emerged in the central Hubei province. Instead, the inquiry shows the large number of countries trying to find a middle course between the two geopolitical rivals, with many governments in agreement that the WHO lacked the powers to challenge early reassurances from China, and was reluctant to publicly criticize one of its most powerful members…” (Norman/Hinshaw, 5/17).

Additional coverage of the World Health Assembly and the impacts of tensions among the U.S., China, and Taiwan is available from Al Jazeera, AP, Devex (2), NBC, New York Times, NPR (2) (3), Reuters, and Washington Post.

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Trump Waivers On Whether To Restore Portion Of WHO Funding Or Continue Freeze On All Funding

Axios: Scoop: Trump leans toward keeping total cut to WHO funding
“President Trump is leaning toward preserving his total funding cut for the World Health Organization after being on the brink of announcing he’d restore partial funding, according to three sources familiar with the situation. A fourth source, a senior administration official, cautioned that the decision-making was fluid and was still subject to change…” (Swan, 5/17).

Wall Street Journal: Trump Again Considering Withholding WHO Funding
“…Officials said the president hasn’t yet made a final decision on how to proceed, but he appeared to now be skeptical of an internal proposal to provide reduced funding to the WHO on par with what China contributes. Instead, the president is weighing extending a temporary funding halt that he put in place in April amid frustration with the WHO’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the officials said. Mr. Trump is expected to make a decision as soon as this week. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment. … The latest development marks a shift from Saturday morning, when the president said his administration was weighing a proposal that would reduce overall U.S. funding to the group by 90%…” (Restuccia, 5/17).

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Top U.S. Health Officials In Background As Trump's COVID-19 Response Shifts; Coronavirus Task Force Announces 5 New Members; White House Adviser Publicly Criticizes CDC

The Guardian: Trump’s top health officials seen but not heard as coronavirus focus shifts
“After disappearing for more than a week, Donald Trump’s top health officials tasked with combatting the U.S.’s worsening coronavirus outbreak appeared with the president during a White House press conference on Friday. Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, two of the nation’s top infectious disease experts, stood behind Trump as he and members of the White House coronavirus taskforce, including the defense secretary, Mark Esper, and health and human services secretary, Alex Azar, provided updates on vaccine development. The doctors were two of only a few participants to wear masks. They did not speak…” (Evelyn, 5/16).

The Hill: White House adds new members to coronavirus task force
“The White House on Friday added five new members to the coronavirus task force, signaling a new focus on reopening the economy and developing vaccines. The additions, announced by Vice President Pence, include Labor Secretary Gene Scalia, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. They also added Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration, and Thomas Engels, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration…” (Chalfant, 5/15).

Washington Post: White House tensions with CDC spill into public view as top Trump adviser criticizes agency response
“Tensions between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spilled out into public view on Sunday as a top adviser to President Trump criticized the public health agency’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The comments by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro are the latest signal of how the Trump administration has sought to sideline the CDC. The agency typically plays the lead role in public health crises, but in recent weeks it’s had its draft guidance for reopening held up by the White House, leaving states and localities to largely fend for themselves…” (Sonmez et al., 5/17).

Additional coverage of the Trump administration’s pandemic response is available from Axios, CNN, POLITICO, and Roll Call.

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Fear Of COVID-19 Spread Grows As West African Mosques Reopen; New Disease Clusters Emerge In Reopening Asia; Brazil Health Minister Quits; Obama Criticizes Trump Administration's Pandemic Response

AFRICA

AP: As mosques reopen in West Africa, COVID-19 fears grow (Larson et al., 5/18).

AP: Gangs deliver food in poor Cape Town area amid lockdown (Imray, 5/18).

The Economist: Why covid-19 seems to spread more slowly in Africa (5/16).

New York Times: Covid-19 Outbreak in Nigeria Is Just One of Africa’s Alarming Hot Spots (Maclean et al., 5/17).

NPR: Senegal Pledges A Bed For Every Coronavirus Patient — And Their Contacts, Too (Shryock, 5/17).

Reuters: Tanzania’s Magufuli plans to lift coronavirus restrictions (Mohammed, 5/17).

U.N. News: Child vaccinations down in DR Congo, and COVID-19 is not helping: UNICEF (5/15).

ASIA

Bloomberg: Over 100 Million in China’s Northeast Face Renewed Lockdown (5/18).

Financial Times: Coronavirus patients threaten to overwhelm Mumbai’s hospitals (Parkin, 5/17).

NPR: With 19 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases And No Deaths, Laos To Loosen Lockdown (Westerman, 5/17).

Wall Street Journal: As West Cautiously Reopens, New Coronavirus Infection Clusters Emerge in Asia (Ansari et al., 5/17).

Washington Post: Coronavirus comes for an abandoned people (Tharoor, 5/18).

Washington Post: An American pilot was devoted to serving people in remote Indonesian villages. She died trying to bring them covid-19 tests (Flynn, 5/18).

EUROPE

New York Times: How France Lost the Weapons to Fight a Pandemic (Onishi/Méheut, 5/17).

NPR: How Iceland Handles Contact Tracing (Garcia-Navarro, 5/17).

Washington Post: Why Belgium has recorded so many coronavirus deaths (Birnbaum, 5/17).

LATIN AMERICA

AP: El Salvador quarantine centers become points of contagion (Aleman/Sherman, 5/17).

AP: Virus heads upriver in Brazil Amazon, sickens native people (Biller/Brito, 5/17).

New York Times: Another Health Minister in Brazil Exits Amid Chaotic Coronavirus Response (Londoño et al., 5/15).

Reuters: Salvadoran president declares emergency without OK from congress, sparking controversy (Renteria/Love, 5/17).

Washington Post: ‘Express burials’ raise fears that Nicaragua is hiding a coronavirus tragedy (Ocampo/Sheridan, 5/17).

MIDDLE EAST

Reuters: Wear a mask or face jail in Kuwait and Qatar (Barrington, 5/17).

NORTH AMERICA

Bloomberg: Behind North America’s Lowest Death Rate: A Doctor Who Fought Ebola (Pearson, 5/16).

New York Times: FDA Clears Another Coronavirus Testing Kit for Use at Home (Kaplan, 5/16).

Reuters: U.S. FDA suspends Gates-backed at-home COVID-19 testing program (Ponnezhath/Heavey, 5/16).

Washington Post: Obama criticizes nation’s leaders for bungled handling of coronavirus pandemic (Scherer/Mettler, 5/16).

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Washington Post Examines Implications Of COVID-19, U.S. WHO Funding Freeze For Global Polio Efforts

Washington Post: Polio was almost eradicated. Then came the coronavirus. Then came a threat from President Trump.
“For decades, the United States has worked with the World Health Organization and others to quash polio, beating back to near extinction a merciless disease that once paralyzed hundreds of thousands of children each year. That progress is in danger as the pandemic forces health-care providers to suspend door-to-door vaccination campaigns that have slashed the number of infections. … Last month, President Trump threatened to cut U.S. funding for polio and every other WHO program over the U.N. agency’s coronavirus response, which he called ‘China-centric.’ In the weeks since, the president and his aides have worked behind the scenes to sideline the WHO. They have also sought to deflect criticism of the United States’ handling of the crisis by pointing to the WHO’s failure to demand more transparency and accountability from China in the earliest stages of the outbreak. While many say the WHO legitimately warrants scrutiny, there is consensus in the public health community that stripping the agency of hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked to combat polio and other diseases could be devastating…” (Rauhala et al., 5/15).

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USAID Health Supply Chain Improved But Still Lacks Certain Capabilities, Review Shows

Devex: USAID health supply chain project ‘fully functional’ but not strategic, review finds
“A mid-term review of the largest contract in USAID’s history found that the project has shown major improvement in key metrics, but still lacks the capabilities of more sophisticated supply chains…” (Igoe, 5/18).

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U.N. SG Issues Message Recognizing International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia

U.N. News: Unite against hate and violence targeting LGBTI people: U.N. officials
“U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for people everywhere to support the right to live free and equal, in line with his message for the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, observed on Sunday. The commemoration comes as the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic which has increased the vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people…” (5/16).

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More News In Global Health

The Guardian: Girls at risk of child marriage as half of local authorities fail to keep records (Summers, 5/18).

Science: Long-acting injectable drug prevents HIV infections (Cohen, 5/18).

The Telegraph: Health workers under attack: 200 incidents globally linked to pandemic (Rigby/Smith, 5/15).

U.S. News & World Report: WHO Releases Brief on Rare Illness in Children Possibly Linked to the Coronavirus (Smith-Schoenwalder, 5/16).

Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Vaccine Front-Runners Emerge, Rollouts Weighed (Loftus, 5/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Response, Including Potential Impact On Governments

Barron’s: The Pentagon Is Leading an Effort to Find a Vaccine. It’s a Mistake
Charles Kenny, senior fellow and director of technology and development at the Center for Global Development (5/17).

Bloomberg: Coronavirus Unmasks El Salvador’s Authoritarian-in-Waiting
Mac Margolis, Bloomberg Opinion columnist (5/15).

CNN: Covid-19 offers a chance to build a better world. We must seize it
Jamie Metzl, founder of OneShared.World and member of the WHO international advisory committee on human genome editing (5/17).

The Conversation: Why more must be done to fight bogus COVID-19 cure claims
Chimaraoke Izugbara, director of global health, youth, and development at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), USA and visiting professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, and Mary O. Obiyan, senior lecturer at the Department of Demography and Social Statistics at the Obafemi Awolowo University (5/17).

DW: Opinion: The COVID-19 pandemic is the defining health crisis of our time
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, and Jutta Urpilainen, commissioner for international partnerships at the European Commission (5/16).

Foreign Policy: Peru’s Civil War Left It Vulnerable to the Pandemic
Michael Albertus, associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago (5/15).

Foreign Policy: How the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Permanently Expand Government Powers
James Crabtree, associate professor in practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, and nine other leading global thinkers (5/16).

The Guardian: DRC has seen epidemics before, but Covid-19’s toll on older people leaves me sleepless
Anatole Bandu, country representative for HelpAge DRC (5/18).

International Policy Digest: China, the WHO, and COVID-19: How Maximizing Power Brings Uncertainty
Don McLain Gill, graduate student at the University of the Philippines Diliman, and Joshua Espeña, defense analyst at the Office for Strategic Studies and Strategy Management at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (OSSSM, AFP) and graduate student at the University of the Philippines Diliman (5/16).

IPS: COVID-19 Has Blown Away the Myth About ‘First’ and ‘Third’ World Competence
Steven Friedman, professor of political studies at the University of Johannesburg (5/15).

New York Times: How Many Covid Deaths? Don’t Ask President Trump
Editorial Board (5/17).

POLITICO: How to Stop the Next Pandemic
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund (5/15).

Project Syndicate: Europe’s COVID Crossroads
Bertrand Badré, CEO of Blue like an Orange Sustainable Capital, and Mathilde Lemoine, group chief economist of Edmond de Rothschild (5/18).

Project Syndicate: Nature Is Our Best Antiviral
Enric Sala, explorer-in-residence with the National Geographic Society (5/14).

Wall Street Journal: Cut Through the Fog of Coronavirus War
Scott Gottlieb, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (5/17).

Wall Street Journal: Lockdown Puts Brazilian Lives at Risk
Mary Anastasia O’Grady, opinion columnist at the Wall Street Journal (5/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Resources Address COVID-19 Policies, Maternal & Child Health, Other Pandemic-Related Issues

Center for Global Development: More Harm Than Good? The Net Impact of COVID-19 Policies Is What Matters for Health
Damian Walker, non-resident fellow at CGD, and colleagues (5/15).

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security: Filling in the Blanks: National Research Needs to Guide Decisions about Reopening Schools in the United States
Anita Cicero, deputy director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, and colleagues (5/15).

Science Speaks: COVID-19: Lessons from the past can point the way forward
Bertha Serwa Ayi, adjunct assistant professor of medicine at the Kansas Health Sciences Center and an adjunct lecturer at the University of Development Studies in Ghana (5/17).

UNFPA West and Central Africa: Reproductive maternal neonatal and adolescent health in time of pandemics: lessons learned and practical guidance (May 2020).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 380 of the ‘Global Fund Observer,’ which discusses the proceedings of the Global Fund’s 43rd Board meeting held virtually May 14-15, and includes articles addressing the Global Fund’s COVID-19 response (5/16).

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From the U.S. Government

President Trump Discusses U.S. Efforts To Develop COVID-19 Vaccine, Announces New Leadership For 'Operation Warp Speed'

HHS: Trump Administration Announces Framework and Leadership for ‘Operation Warp Speed’
“On Friday, the Trump administration announced the appointment of Moncef Slaoui as chief adviser and General Gustave F. Perna as chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed (OWS), the administration’s national program to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics (medical countermeasures). … Among its other objectives, Operation Warp Speed aims to have substantial quantities of a safe and effective vaccine available for Americans by January 2021…” (5/15).

White House: Remarks by President Trump on Vaccine Development
On Friday, President Trump provided remarks on U.S. efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, known as Operation Warp Speed (5/15).

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White House Announces New Members Of Coronavirus Task Force

White House: New Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force Announced
On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence announced new members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, including Sonny Perdue, secretary of agriculture; Gene Scalia, secretary of labor; Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; Peter Marks, FDA director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research; and Thomas Engels, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (5/15).

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In Statement, Pompeo Condemns Taiwan's Exclusion From World Health Assembly

U.S. Department of State: Taiwan’s Exclusion from the World Health Assembly
In this press statement, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo says, “The United States condemns Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly. At a time when the world continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need multilateral institutions to deliver on their stated missions and to serve the interests of all member states, not to play politics while lives are at stake…” (5/18).

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USG Facilitates Emergency Delivery Of ARVs To Nepal Following Shortage In Country

U.S. Embassy in Nepal: U.S. Government Delivers Emergency Shipment of Anti-retroviral (ARV) Medicine
“On Wednesday, May 13, Nepal received a shipment of much needed Anti-retroviral (ARV) medicine that has been in short supply since March. These medicines will ensure continuity of care for 18,628 people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Nepal in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Before the arrival of this shipment, Nepal was within days of running out of ARVs, and some patients had only one or two doses of medication left. The U.S. Government was pleased to have been able to work with suppliers, shippers, and officials in both India and Nepal to purchase and import these life-saving drugs, which will ensure an uninterrupted supply of medicines to PLHIV in Nepal. USAID, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the Global Fund partnered to purchase more than $300,000 in ARV medicine for this shipment…” (5/15).

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USAID Acting Administrator Issues Statement Recognizing International Day Of Families

USAID: Statement on International Day of Families from USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa
In a statement recognizing the International Day of Families, USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa discusses USAID’s investments in children, adolescents, and families through its development efforts, noting, “USAID’s development programs help build stable, resilient, and prosperous families and communities, by providing access to high-quality food, health care, and basic education to families around the world. … Today, we celebrate families and recognize the important work of USAID and our implementing partners to support their well-being. Families are the foundation of strong communities and secure societies, and we’re proud to invest in strong families around the world” (5/15).

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From KFF

KFF Resources Examine Global, Domestic Issues Related To COVID-19

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of May 18, 2020 (5/18).

Additional KFF COVID-19 resources on the global situation, as well as those focused on the response and impact within the U.S., are available here. KFF’s blog series “Coronavirus Policy Watch” is available here.

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KFF Updates Fact Sheet On Key U.S. Government Officials In Global Health

KFF: Key Global Health Positions and Officials in the U.S. Government
This updated fact sheet lists U.S. government positions and officials related to global health, including links to agencies and officials’ profiles, when available (5/15).

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