KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

COVID-19 Pandemic Threatens To Push Millions Of People Into Poverty, U.N. SG, World Bank President Warn; Response Requires Coordination To Keep SDGs On Track, Guterres Says

AP: U.N. chief: Virus could push millions of Africans into poverty
“U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic threatens Africa’s progress and could push millions into extreme poverty. The U.N. chief said in a video message launching a policy report on ‘The Impact of COVID-19 in Africa’ that countries on the continent have responded swiftly to the crisis, and as of now reported cases are lower than feared with more than 2,500 deaths…” (Lederer, 5/20).

BBC: Coronavirus: World Bank warns 60m at risk of ‘extreme poverty’
“Up to 60m people will be pushed into ‘extreme poverty’ by the coronavirus warns the president of the World Bank. David Malpass said the bank expects global economic growth to shrink by 5% this year as nations deal with the pandemic…” (5/20).

U.N. News: Coordination essential to beat coronavirus, keep development goals on track
“As the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis continues to wreak havoc across the world — with the most vulnerable suffering the most — the U.N. chief said on Tuesday that the task of eradicating poverty and achieving the development goals ‘has never been more challenging, more urgent and more necessary’…” (5/19).

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WHO Member States Agree To Resolutions On Review Of Agency's Pandemic Response, Equal Access To COVID-19 Treatments, Vaccines

Devex: Governments strike a deal on COVID-19 review, equal treatment access
“Countries backed equal access to treatment and an independent review of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday, as the annual meeting of the World Health Organization ended in broad consensus after weeks of negotiations. States agreed on a non-binding European Union-led resolution recognizing extensive immunization against the virus as a ‘global public good’ and calling for ‘universal, timely and equitable access to and fair distribution of all quality, safe, efficacious and affordable essential health technologies and products including their components and precursors … as a global priority.’ … The United States voted in favor of the resolution but disassociated itself from some sections, including on equitable access, explaining in a statement that the text took an ‘unbalanced and incomplete approach’ to trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, or TRIPS…” (Chadwick/Ravelo, 5/20).

New York Times: WHO Members Reject Trump’s Demands but Agree to Study Its Virus Response
“President Trump’s angry demands for punitive action against the World Health Organization were rebuffed on Tuesday by the organization’s other member nations, which decided instead to conduct an ‘impartial, independent’ examination of the WHO’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. … [R]epresentatives of the organization’s member nations rallied around the WHO at its annual meeting in Geneva, largely ignoring Mr. Trump’s demand for an overhaul and calling for a global show of support in the face of a deadly pandemic. The outcome left the United States isolated as officials from China, Russia, and the European Union chided Mr. Trump over his heated threats even as they acknowledged the need for a review of how the WHO performed as the virus spread from China to the rest of the world…” (Shear/Jacobs, 5/19).

Reuters: WHO will continue to lead global fight against pandemic, Tedros vows
“The World Health Organization will continue to lead the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic which ‘threatens to tear at the fabric of international cooperation,’ its chief said on Tuesday…” (Nebehay/Farge, 5/19).

Additional coverage of the WHO’s World Health Assembly outcomes and tensions between the U.S. and China is available from AP, Foreign Policy, The Hill, NPR (2), POLITICO, Reuters, U.N. News, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post (2).

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U.S. Requests Removal Of Sexual, Reproductive Health Language From U.N. COVID-19 Response Plan; Global Health, Human Rights Experts Criticize Move

CNN: U.S. asks for abortion references to be removed from U.N. pandemic response plan
“The Trump administration is urging the United Nations secretary general to remove any references to reproductive health, including abortions, from the U.N.’s humanitarian response plan to the coronavirus pandemic to ‘avoid creating controversy.’ ‘The United States stands with nations that have pledged to protect the unborn,’ acting Administrator of USAID John Barsa wrote in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday. … Barsa’s letter is receiving criticism from human rights groups. … U.N. health documents often refer to sexual and reproductive health and say it is central to the international agency’s broader goal of accelerating development, particularly efforts to improve mother and child mortality and health care. Global health experts say now is not the time to launch an attack on sexual and reproductive services…” (Atwood, 5/19).

The Hill: USAID urges U.N. to remove abortion access as part of global COVID-19 response
“…Barsa, in his letter, said that sexual and reproductive health services do not rise to the same level of importance as food-insecurity, essential health care, malnutrition, shelter, and sanitation and criticized the Global Health Response Plan for what it believes is its promotion of abortion services. ‘Therefore, I ask that you remove references to “sexual and reproductive health,” and its derivatives from the Global HRP, and drop the provision of abortion as an essential component of the U.N.’s priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,’ Barsa wrote” (Kelly, 5/19).

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In CNN Interviews, Unnamed CDC Officials Say White House Stifling Public Health Agency's Responses To COVID-19 Pandemic

CNN: ‘We’ve been muzzled’: CDC sources say White House putting politics ahead of science
“…In interviews with CNN, CDC officials say their agency’s efforts to mount a coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been hamstrung by a White House whose decisions are driven by politics rather than science. The result has worsened the effects of the crisis, sources inside the CDC say, relegating the 73-year-old agency that has traditionally led the nation’s response to infectious disease to a supporting role…” (Kuznia et al., 5/20).

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U.S. Considering Travel Restrictions On Brazil, Trump Says

The Hill: Trump says he is considering travel restrictions on Brazil
“President Trump said Tuesday that his administration is considering placing travel restrictions on Brazil as the South American nation struggles under an increasing number of coronavirus cases. ‘We are considering it. We hope that we’re not going to have a problem,’ Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon, specifically citing concerns about Brazilians going to Florida. ‘Brazil has gone more or less herd,’ Trump said, adding, ‘They’re having problems’…” (Chalfant, 5/19).

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China Leads Race To Develop Coronavirus Vaccine; Moderna's Trial Results Provide Little Information, Experts Say; WSJ Examines European, U.S. Funding For Vaccine Research

NPR: China Leads The Worldwide Race To Develop A COVID-19 Vaccine
“China is leading the global race in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Half of the vaccines that have already gone into clinical trials were discovered by Chinese companies…” (Ruwitch, 5/19).

STAT: Vaccine experts say Moderna didn’t produce data critical to assessing Covid-19 vaccine
“Heavy hearts soared Monday with news that Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate — the frontrunner in the American market — seemed to be generating an immune response in Phase 1 trial subjects. … Several vaccine experts asked by STAT concluded that, based on the information made available by the Cambridge, Mass.-based company, there’s really no way to know how impressive — or not — the vaccine may be. While Moderna blitzed the media, it revealed very little information — and most of what it did disclose were words, not data. That’s important: If you ask scientists to read a journal article, they will scour data tables, not corporate statements. With science, numbers speak much louder than words…” (Branswell, 5/19).

Wall Street Journal: Europe Falls Behind U.S. in Funding Coronavirus Vaccine — and Securing Access
“As pharmaceutical giants edge closer to a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus, governments demanding access to any supplies are running up against a hard reality: the bill. … Europe is lagging behind the U.S. in funding its share of the billions it will cost to manufacture vaccine doses on an unprecedented scale. Still, European governments expect their citizens to be among the earliest recipients of any vaccine against Covid-19, because the continent is home to pharmaceutical giants like Sanofi and AstraZeneca PLC that are developing some of the world’s most promising candidates…” (Roland et al., 5/19).

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Australia Diverting Foreign Aid To Support Pacific Countries Impacted By COVID-19, Cyclone; WHO Says Russian Cases Stabilizing; Brazil's Indigenous Tribes Threatened; U.N. Appeals For Cross-Border Aid In Syria

AFRICA

The Guardian: ‘We can’t turn them away’: the family kitchen fighting lockdown hunger in Zimbabwe (Chingono, 5/20).

The Guardian: Tanzania’s president shrugs off Covid-19 risk after sending fruit for ‘tests’ (Beaumont, 5/19).

U.N. News: Stand in solidarity to preserve Africa’s hard-won progress, urges U.N. chief (5/20).

U.N. News: ‘Alarming’ military build-up underway in Libya, as COVID-19 heightens insecurity (5/19).

ASIA

ABC (Australia): Australia spends $100m in ‘quick financial support’ for Pacific countries hit by cyclone and pandemic (Clarke, 5/19).

PRI: How to deal with a cyclone in the middle of a pandemic? (5/19).

Reuters: New infections mar South Korean students’ return to school (Cha et al., 5/19).

Reuters: India to help migrant workers leave cities, but infections mount (Ghoshal/Dash, 5/19).

Reuters: Coronavirus behaving differently in China’s northeast clusters, expert says (Lee et al., 5/19).

EUROPE

Financial Times: U.K. minister sparks blame game over coronavirus policy mistakes (Hughes et al., 5/19).

Reuters: Russia’s coronavirus cases pass 300,000 as WHO says situation is stabilizing (Stolyarov et al., 5/19).

Reuters: Sweden tops Europe COVID-19 deaths per capita over last seven days (Ahlander, 5/19).

Reuters: Dutch farm worker contracted coronavirus from mink: agriculture minister (Sterling, 5/19).

Washington Post: Why is coronavirus hitting Britain’s minority doctors so hard? (5/20).

LATIN AMERICA

Al Jazeera: Brazil’s Indigenous tribes face multiple threats (Gatenby, 5/19).

AP: Indigenous infections grew amid slow Brazil agency response (Savarese/Biller, 5/20).

AP: Health organization: Nicaragua won’t allow hospital access (5/19).

New Humanitarian: How COVID-19 responses are endangering trans people in Latin America (Glatsky, 5/19).

Reuters: El Salvador’s president proposes re-opening of economy from June 6 (Rentaria, 5/18).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Femicides in Argentina reach 10-year high under coronavirus lockdown (Lopez, 5/18).

MIDDLE EAST

AP: Turkey’s pandemic strategy hinges on hazmat-suited gumshoes (Bilginsoy et al., 5/20).

Reuters: Afghan doctors protest over unpaid salaries amid coronavirus outbreak (Karimi et al., 5/19).

U.N. News: Syria: U.N. relief chief appeals for renewal of lifesaving cross-border aid operation (5/19).

NORTH AMERICA

AP: Mexico City virus deaths triple official toll, group says (Stevenson, 5/20).

New York Times: Where Chronic Health Conditions and Coronavirus Could Collide (Popovich et al., 5/18).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: UNICEF USA launches fund to support PPE procurement (Saldinger, 5/20).

Devex: Using Google’s data to monitor social distancing (Jerving, 5/20).

Devex: The hospitals where doctors can’t wash their hands (Root, 5/18).

The Guardian: Afghan hospital attack: ‘I thought my baby had died and I would be next’ (Glinski, 5/19).

PRI: Discussion: Lessons from the coronavirus pandemic to avert a future crisis (5/19).

Science: Why do some COVID-19 patients infect many others, whereas most don’t spread the virus at all? (Kupferschmidt, 5/19).

Scientific American: Human Viruses Can Jump into Animals, Too — Sowing the Seeds of Future Epidemics (McKenna, 5/20).

Scientific American: Special Report: The Coronavirus Pandemic (Multiple authors, June 2020).

U.N. News: Post-pandemic ‘green shift’ in transport could create up to 15 million jobs (5/19).

Washington Post: The pandemic may forever change the world’s cities (Tharoor, 5/20).

Washington Post: Global emissions plunged an unprecedented 17 percent during the coronavirus pandemic (Mooney et al., 5/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Response, Including Challenges Of Accessing Medical Supplies, Drugs

Bloomberg: The U.S. Can’t Defeat Coronavirus Alone
Editorial Board (5/19).

Devex: Opinion: What does it take to stock a nation with medical supplies?
Grete Faremo, undersecretary general and executive director of UNOPS (5/19).

Devex: Opinion: We cannot underestimate young people in the COVID-19 response
Perry Maddox, CEO of Restless Development (5/19).

Foreign Affairs: Drugs and Vaccines Are Coming — But to Whom?
Jennifer Hillman, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor of practice at the Georgetown University Law Center (5/19).

Foreign Affairs: Sweden’s Coronavirus Strategy Should Not Be the World’s
Josh Michaud, associate director for global health policy at KFF and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (5/20).

Foreign Policy: In the Post-Pandemic Cold War, America Is Losing Europe
Noah Barkin, senior visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund (5/19).

New York Times: A Sudden Coronavirus Surge Brought Out Singapore’s Dark Side
Megan K. Stack, author and journalist (5/20).

Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus and Policy Chaos
Holman W. Jenkins Jr., member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal (5/19).

Washington Post: The WHO has been more effective at fighting the coronavirus than Trump has. No wonder he hates it
Max Boot, columnist at the Washington Post, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and global affairs analyst for CNN (5/19).

Washington Post: Moderna’s claim of favorable results in its vaccine trial is an example of ‘publication by press release’
William Haseltine, founder of Harvard University’s cancer and HIV/AIDS research departments and chair and president of ACCESS Health International (5/19).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss U.S. Development Efforts In Africa; Trump Administration's Actions On Women's Health, Relationship With China; Violence In Afghanistan; Access To TB Treatment

Devex: Opinion: A bipartisan legacy of Africa trade worth remembering
Tom Sheehy, principal of Quinella Global (5/18).

The Hill: Trump assault on women’s choice continues despite pandemic
Bridget Kelly, director of research at the Population Institute (5/16).

New York Times: Trump Is Playing the China Card. Who Believes Him?
Susan E. Rice, national security adviser from 2013 to 2017 and former United States ambassador to the United Nations (5/19).

NPR: Opinion: We Shouldn’t Have To Ask That Babies And Mothers Not Be Killed. Yet We Must
Mary Akrami, women’s rights advocate and director of Afghan Women Network; Wazhma Frogh, founder of the Women and Peace Studies Organization; and Mahbouba Seraj, executive director of Afghan Women Skills Development Centre (5/16).

STAT: If J&J really wants to support nurses, it should make the TB drug bedaquiline affordable
Sasha Cuttler, registered nurse with the San Francisco Department of Public Health; Mary Magee, registered nurse with the San Francisco Department of Public Health; and Guy Vandenberg, registered nurse and HIV clinical specialist at the University of California, San Francisco (5/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

100 Countries Receiving World Bank Support Amid COVID-19, Groups Says

World Bank: World Bank Group: 100 Countries Get Support in Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
“The World Bank Group [Tuesday] announced its emergency operations to fight COVID-19 (coronavirus) have reached 100 developing countries — home to 70% of the world’s population. Since March, the Bank Group has rapidly delivered record levels of support in order to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, reinforce health systems, maintain the private sector, and bolster economic recovery. This assistance, the largest and fastest crisis response in the Bank Group’s history, marks a milestone in implementing the Bank Group’s pledge to make available $160 billion in grants and financial support over a 15-month period to help developing countries respond to the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19 and the economic shutdown in advanced countries…” (5/19).

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Science Speaks Discusses Study Examining Long-Acting Injectable HIV Prevention Drug

Science Speaks: Long-acting injected HIV prevention effective and safe, HPTN 083 trial data shows
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer at Science Speaks, discusses the results of a study assessing an investigational drug for HIV prevention. Barton notes the “injection every eight weeks has been found to be effective and safe in preventing HIV infection among men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men, in data released [May 18] demonstrating a form of long-acting biomedical HIV prevention to be as effective as daily medicine taken by mouth” (5/18).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Department Of State Updates Fact Sheet Outlining Efforts To Respond To Global COVID-19 Pandemic

U.S. Department of State: State Department: Update: The United States Continues to Lead the Global Response to COVID-19
This fact sheet provides an update on U.S. efforts to respond to COVID-19 globally, noting, “Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. Government has committed more than $900 million in State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance specifically aimed at helping governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) fight the pandemic. This funding, provided by Congress, will save lives by improving public health education; protecting health care facilities; and increasing laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity in more than 120 countries” (5/20).

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USAID Announces Nearly $23.4M In Additional Humanitarian Assistance To Address Ongoing Ebola Outbreak In Eastern DRC, Neighboring Countries

USAID: USAID Announces Nearly $23.4 Million in Additional Humanitarian Assistance to Contain Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo
“The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing nearly $23.4 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help end the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries, the second-largest outbreak of the disease on record. … With this new funding, the United States is continuing to provide life-saving assistance through our on-the-ground partners, including activities to prevent and control infections in health facilities, enhance disease surveillance, and train health care workers. The U.S. is also supporting community-engagement efforts, and working with non-governmental organizations (NGO) to educate the public through radio programs, news bulletins, and public debates. These programs will benefit affected and at-risk community members, including survivors of Ebola…” (5/19).

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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 20, 2020 (5/20).

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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