KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

World Must Fight Against Hatred, COVID-19 Pandemic, U.N. SG Says, Congratulates Biden-Harris On Election Along With Other Senior U.N. Officials

AP: U.N. chief urges global fight against pandemic and hatred
“U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called on Monday for a global fight on two fronts — one against the coronavirus pandemic and the other against ‘the poison’ of anti-Semitism and hatred of Muslims, migrants, refugees, and many others. Even before the virus struck earlier this year, the U.N. chief said there was a surge in anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred, racism, and other forms of discrimination. ‘And with COVID-19, another virus has spread — anti-Semitism and hatred of many kinds,’ he said. … But Guterres said there is hope. ‘It is within our power to emerge from the pandemic with stronger communities, and more cohesive societies, by addressing the inequalities and injustices that have been exposed so starkly,’ he said. He urged people everywhere to ‘stand together against hatred in all its forms’…” (Lederer, 11/10).

U.N. News: Guterres congratulates Biden and Harris, hails U.N.-U.S. partnership as ‘essential pillar’
“Senior U.N. officials have offered their congratulations to the president-elect of the United States Joe Biden, and vice president-elect Kamala Harris, on their election victory called on Saturday. ‘The Secretary-General congratulates the American people for a vibrant exercise of democracy in their country’s elections last week,’ said a statement released on behalf of António Guterres, on Monday…” (11/9).

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WHO DG Tedros Opens WHA With Calls For Coordination To Address Global Challenges, Including COVID-19 Pandemic, Welcomes Election Of Biden-Harris In U.S.

Reuters: WHO chief looks forward to working ‘very closely’ with Biden team
“The World Health Organization chief on Monday welcomed efforts to strengthen the Geneva-based body through reform and said it was looking forward to working closely with the administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden…” (Nebehay/Farge, 11/9).

U.N. News: WHO’s Tedros says it is time for the world to heal, pushing back on ‘misguided nationalism’
“World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told Member States on Monday that efforts to tackle climate change and poverty had been set back by a lack of global unity since major agreements were struck five years ago, and welcomed the chance to work with the presumptive new U.S. administration of president-elect Joe Biden. Addressing the World Health Assembly, which resumed proceedings on Monday after its annual session in May was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tedros said the world had achieved a ‘great convergence’ in 2015 when governments adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on finance for development…” (11/9).

VOA News: Pandemic Threatens Decades of Progress in Global Health
“…While the WHO is focused on coordinating and supporting the response to the pandemic, Tedros said the agency has not neglected other global health needs that do not make the headlines. … Tedros said none of the health worries and many other challenges facing the world can be addressed in isolation. He said they are deeply intertwined and must be tackled in solidarity and compassion with one another…” (Schlein, 11/9).

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President-Elect Biden Names Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board Members, Lauds Pfizer Vaccine Results But Urges Caution; Media Outlets Examine Whether U.S. Global Health Leadership Can Be Restored

CNN: Here’s who’s on President-elect Biden’s newly formed Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board
“President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ newly appointed Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board is led by established public health officials and staffed by a mix of doctors and current and former government officials, some with high-profile media visibility. The advisory board is co-chaired by former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Yale associate professor of medicine and epidemiology. … Biden said Monday that they will seek to add other members to the board going forward. Here’s a look at who he has appointed to the board so far…” (Levenson, 11/9).

Devex: Can Biden rebuild U.S. global health leadership?
“…Over four tumultuous years, Trump proposed to slash funding for international health programs, sidelined America’s own technical experts and agencies, picked political fights with international health institutions in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, and declined to join collective efforts aimed at ensuring equitable access to a vaccine. Biden has sought to provide reassurance that his administration will seek to return the U.S. government to a place of global health leadership, pledging to undo many of the Trump administration’s policies, and to take a more active and productive role on the global stage. … Global health experts caution that restoring U.S. global health leadership to its former status will not be as easy as flipping a switch. Some of them doubt it will be possible to return to the world that existed before Trump and before COVID-19…” (Igoe, 11/10).

The Hill: Biden lauds Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine news, but urges country to remain cautious
“President-elect Joe Biden on Monday lauded the news of Pfizer’s progress on a COVID-19 vaccine but urged Americans to be cautious because widespread vaccination is still many months away. In a statement, Biden said Pfizer’s announcement that interim data showed its vaccine was 90 percent effective was ‘excellent news’ that gives Americans ’cause for hope.’ But Biden said the news does not mean there is a cure. He urged patience and attempted to set realistic expectations that the timetable for any potential vaccine has not changed, and it will be well into 2021 before there is widespread vaccination…” (Weixel, 11/9).

POLITICO: Biden and his shadow health panel start plotting pandemic response
“President-elect Joe Biden gave clear signals on Monday that his administration will take a completely different approach to the coronavirus pandemic — warning that the United States would face a ‘very dark winter,’ unveiling a new Covid advisory group stacked with veteran public health experts, lowering expectations for a rapidly available vaccine, and making an urgent plea for Americans to cover their faces and slow the soaring rate of infection. … The 10-minute speech offered the best glimpse yet at how Biden will guide the country through a health crisis that’s likely to peak as he prepares to assume office. He struck a tone resembling that of a wartime president, speaking of the pandemic’s threat in dire terms and setting public expectations for a drawn-out, monthslong campaign to crush the outbreak in the U.S…” (Ollstein/Forgey, 11/9).

Vox: Trump abandoned the WHO. Biden will rejoin the agency on day one in office.
“Joe Biden’s transition team has confirmed the president-elect will reverse a Trump-era decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization on his first day in office, winning praise from experts who welcome the end of Trump’s isolationist approach. … On Sunday, Biden’s press secretary told Vox the president-elect will proceed with that plan, keeping America’s membership in the only global body that can declare a pandemic and internationally mobilize to stop it. Global health experts, including critics of the WHO, welcomed the news. … Restoring America’s reputation in this arena will take more than rejoining the WHO, however — especially at a time when China has been filling the void Trump left behind…” (Belluz, 11/9).

Additional coverage of the Biden-Harris plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic and other global health issues is available from Becker’s Hospital Review, Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, The Hill, Newsweek, NPR, POLITICO, Science, STAT, TIME, and Washington Post.

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Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Appears 90% Effective In Interim Trial Results, Company Announces; Approval, Accessibility Questions Remain

AP: Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine is looking 90% effective
“Pfizer Inc. said Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine may be a remarkable 90% effective, based on early and incomplete test results that nevertheless brought a big burst of optimism to a world desperate for the means to finally bring the catastrophic outbreak under control. … Pfizer, which is developing the vaccine with its German partner BioNTech, now is on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, once it has the necessary safety information in hand…” (Neergaard/Johnson, 11/10).

Devex: Accessibility concerns about promising Pfizer, BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
“Experts are encouraged with the interim efficacy results of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine against the coronavirus, but that optimism was tempered with concerns over the vaccine’s affordability and accessibility. The companies also have yet to sign a deal with COVAX, the global initiative whose aim is to provide equal access to COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries…” (Ravelo, 11/10).

STAT: Four reasons for encouragement based on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine results
“…While these are early findings — the trial is still ongoing — they suggest the vaccine could be very protective. There’s another important caveat. We don’t yet have details about whether the vaccine blocked mainly mild cases, or if there is evidence that it seemed to prevent some severe infections, too. Still, the early results are encouraging for the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership. But embedded in the announcement is broader good news for Covid-19 vaccine development. Here are four reasons for encouragement based on the early results, starting with the most important…” (Branswell, 11/9).

Washington Post: Pfizer coronavirus vaccine could be cleared by mid-December following release of data showing it is more than 90 percent effective
“The news Monday that Pfizer’s experimental coronavirus vaccine is more than 90 percent effective sharply increased prospects that federal regulators will authorize the vaccine on an emergency basis as early as mid-December, and that the first shots will be administered before the end of the year or early next year. … Even with the welcome development, experts warned that the longed-for return to normalcy will take many months or more, and that the path is certain to contain unexpected twists and turns. Even after a vaccine is approved, they said, people will need to wear masks and social distance for some time — in part because the vaccine doses will be limited, and it will take time to immunize enough of the population to stop the virus from spreading…” (McGinley et al., 11/9).

Additional coverage of the vaccine trial results and implications is available from Al Jazeera, CNBC (2), The Economist, Financial Times, NBC News, New York Times (2), NPR, POLITICO, Quartz, Reuters, Science, Science Speaks, Scientific American, STAT, Vox, and Washington Post.

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Brazil's Health Regulator Suspends Trial Of China' Sinovac Coronavirus Vaccine, Citing Severe Adverse Event Among Participant

Wall Street Journal: Brazil Suspends Trials of China’s Sinovac Coronavirus Vaccine
“Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa said Monday it has suspended clinical trials of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, long expected to be one of the first to be approved in the country, following a ‘severe adverse event.’ Anvisa said late Monday that the event occurred on Oct. 29, without giving further information or an explanation of why it took more than a week to communicate the problem. Brazil’s Butantan Institute, the research center in São Paulo that has been developing the vaccine in partnership with Sinovac, a private Chinese company, said that it was surprised by Anvisa’s decision. It said it was investigating and would hold a press conference Tuesday morning…” (Pearson, 11/10).

Additional coverage of the trial’s suspension is available from AP, Bloomberg, Financial Times, and Reuters.

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FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization To Eli Lilly's Monoclonal Antibody For Treatment Of COVID-19

Washington Post: FDA authorizes Eli Lilly antibody drug that Trump touted, but supply will be limited
“The first covid-19 treatment to protect people with mild illness from developing severe disease was granted emergency use authorization by regulators Monday evening. The drug, a laboratory-brewed antibody that imitates the immune system’s attack on the virus, is made by Eli Lilly & Co. Health experts have championed the class of medicine as a powerful tool to change the course of the pandemic and work as a bridge to a vaccine. It is in the same family of medication as an experimental treatment President Trump received when he was stricken with covid-19, the illness the novel coronavirus causes. But the initial scarcity of the drug and the logistical complexities of administering it could mute its immediate impact on the pandemic and raise questions about whether it is being distributed to people in the greatest need…” (Johnson, 11/9).

Additional coverage of the drug’s authorization is available from AP, Financial Times, and NBC News.

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News Outlets Examine U.S. Efforts To Develop Coronavirus Vaccine, Therapeutics

CBS 60 Minutes: Inside the Operation Warp Speed effort to get Americans a COVID-19 vaccine
“While the rest of the country has been counting votes, an Army general named Gus Perna has been counting doses of vaccine. He is in charge of Operation Warp Speed, the catchy title given to the crash program to inoculate 300 million Americans against the coronavirus by next spring…” (Martin, 11/8).

MedPage Today: Fauci, NIAID Look to Past to Inform Future of COVID-19 Therapies
“In developing therapeutic agents for COVID-19, researchers learned from the lessons of past viruses, from HIV to Ebola to even flu, experts at an NIH webinar said. … Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), discussed prior experience in studying the replication cycle for the HIV virus…” (Walker, 11/6).

NPR: Operation Warp Speed’s Logistics Chief Weighs In On Vaccine Progress
“A top U.S. Army general who is co-leading the federal COVID-19 vaccine initiative anticipates that the first of millions of Americans could start receiving COVID-19 vaccines as soon as next month. ‘I think a safe and effective vaccine will be available initially in December,’ Gen. Gustave Perna told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly in an interview Monday…” (11/9).

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Media Outlets Examine Research, Development Of, Access To COVID-19 Treatments, Vaccines

The Hill: NIH study: Hydroxychloroquine had no benefit for hospitalized COVID-19 patients (Weixel, 11/9).

Nature: ‘I’ve never worked harder’: the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine (Woolston, 11/9).

Reuters: COVID-19 vaccine could help fundamentally change pandemic’s arc: WHO (Farge/Nebehay, 11/9).

U.N. News: Can ‘Open Science’ speed up the search for a COVID-19 vaccine? 5 things you need to know (11/10).

U.N. News: Independent U.N. experts decry COVID vaccine hoarding: ‘No one is secure until all of us are’ (11/9).

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USAID Head Barsa Holding On Agency's Transition Until GSA Letter Affirming Election Results Signed

CNBC: Trump agency official privately says there is ‘no transition in place’ after Biden’s victory
“President Donald Trump’s acting head of the U.S. Agency for International Development told political appointees that the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden hasn’t started yet. John Barsa, the acting deputy administrator of USAID, privately told members of his team on Monday that, despite Biden’s victory, the transition of power has not started and will not begin until the General Services Administration signs off. ‘The only official announcement about an election result that matters is from the head of GSA. So until the head of GSA makes a determination as to who won an election, nothing changes,’ Barsa said, according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by CNBC. ‘There is no transition in place.’ A spokesman for USAID did not respond to a request for comment. Emily Murphy, the administrator for the GSA, must sign a letter affirming the election results in order for Biden’s transition to receive the legally mandated millions of dollars in federal funding…” (Schwartz, 11/9).

Washington Post: Top Trump appointee at USAID tells colleagues not to support Biden transition
“…USAID officials were also told on the call that three Trump loyalists are being elevated to top positions at the agency, even as the administration enters its waning days, according to the officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment on internal discussions…” (Torbati et al., 11/9).

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KHN Examines Global Impacts Of Trump Administration's Expanded Mexico City Policy On Women's Health Care

Kaiser Health News: Trump’s Anti-Abortion Zeal Shook Fragile Health Systems Around the World
“…Around the world, countries that depend on U.S. foreign aid have scrapped or scaled back ambitious public health projects, refashioning their health systems over the past four years to comport with President Donald Trump’s sweeping anti-abortion restrictions that went further than any Republican president before him. The effects have been profound… President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to reverse the policy when he takes office, and he campaigned on a promise to enshrine abortion rights in federal law. But for many foreign aid groups, the changes may be permanent…” (Varney, 11/10).

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Taiwan Not Invited To WHO WHA Despite Push From U.S.

New York Times: As WHO virus meeting kicks off, Taiwan is still waiting for its invitation.
“A virtual meeting of the World Health Organization that will largely focus on the global response to the coronavirus pandemic began Monday, involving representatives from more than 190 countries. Noticeably absent was a place that has won international praise for its success in controlling a virus that has sickened more than 50 million people and killed more than 1.2 million around the world: Taiwan. As of Monday, Taiwan had not yet received an invitation to join the World Health Assembly meeting, which will end on Saturday, according to a spokeswoman for Taiwan’s foreign ministry, despite a multilateral effort led by the United States to support the island’s bid for observer status…” (Qin, 11/10).

Reuters: WHO members reject attempt to include Taiwan in meeting
“…Washington, which has announced under outgoing President Donald Trump that it is quitting the WHO in part because of what it describes as pro-China bias, has pressed for the organization to allow Taiwan to attend meetings as an observer. Beijing, which says the island is part of China, rejects this…” (Blanchard et al., 11/9).

Reuters: Blocking Taiwan at WHO will increase hostility to China, premier says
“China’s efforts to block Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Organization (WHO) during the coronavirus pandemic will only increase the world’s hostility towards the country, the island’s premier said on Tuesday. Chinese-claimed but democratically run Taiwan says its inability to fully access the WHO, because of China’s objections, has created a gap in global pandemic prevention. China and the WHO say that is untrue…” (Blanchard, 11/10).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: Ukraine’s president tests positive for COVID-19 (11/10).

AP: As virus spikes, Europe runs low on ICU beds, hospital staff (Hinnant et al., 11/10).

AP: Hard-hit Belgium sees light at the end of virus tunnel (Petrequin, 11/9).

AP: U.N.: Pandemic threatens Latin America’s next generation (Smith, 11/9).

Borgen Magazine: A Malaria Vaccine Might Be on the Horizon (11/9).

Devex: The new U.N. special rapporteur on water and sanitation lays out his priorities (Root, 11/9).

Devex: Donors spending more aid on self-interested goals, report says (Worley, 11/10).

The Guardian: From schoolboy to tea seller: Covid poverty forces India’s children into work (Dhillon, 11/10).

Reuters: Spell of heavy smog in Indian capital raises fears for COVID patients (Arora/Bhardwaj, 11/9).

Science: How a communist physics teacher flattened the COVID-19 curve in southern India (Chandrashekhar, 11/9).

STAT: ViiV’s HIV prevention shot beats Gilead’s widely used pill in a study of women (Silverman, 11/9).

STAT: Health experts want to prioritize people of color for a Covid-19 vaccine. But how should it be done? (St. Fleur, 11/9).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Insight — Ethiopian girls trapped in sex trade as COVID-19 deepens desperation (Wuilbercq, 11/9).

U.N. News: ‘Super typhoon’ Goni: U.N., partners seek $45 million in immediate relief (11/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

New Leadership Requires Novel Perspectives To Advance Global Health, Opinion Piece Says

Devex: Opinion: A post-2020 narrative for global health
Loyce Pace, president and executive director of the Global Health Council

“Given so much focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and politics in the U.S., we have hardly taken a moment to consider what comes next. Surely, both will have a profound effect on how we tackle global health priorities after this year. Our strategies and systems have been tested in unprecedented ways, prompting us to ask ourselves how we rebuild and recover. President-elect Joe Biden has cautioned us against business as usual. So what does that mean in the wake of an ongoing health emergency? … With domestic needs looming and various issues clamoring for attention, we should be broad in our message and pull in new champions inspired by another set of principles. Here’s what I propose: Equity … Democracy … Humanity … Why is this relevant on the heels of a U.S. election? Because new leadership at such a pivotal time requires novel perspectives. The only way we’ll truly ‘build back better’ is to offer incoming policymakers at the federal and congressional levels what they need to take meaningful steps toward protecting and advancing global health, by aligning with today’s realities. With COVID-19 raging globally, WHO under threat, and other priorities falling by the wayside, we simply cannot rely on the status quo. We must find greater common ground with different players and topics that will work together toward the same goal” (11/10).

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Editorials, Opinion Pieces Address Issues Related To Possible COVID-19 Vaccine

Financial Times: A first glimmer of hope for a Covid vaccine
Editorial Board (11/9).

Financial Times: Does a vaccine against Covid-19 herald the end of the pandemic?
Azra Ghani, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London (11/10).

New York Times: Don’t Get Too Excited About the Coronavirus Vaccine
Aaron E. Carroll, professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, and Nicholas Bagley, law professor at the University of Michigan (11/10).

STAT: A national Covid-19 vaccine confidence project: job No. 1 for President-elect Biden
David Bluestone and John Garrett, both founding partners of ClearPath Strategies, and David Beier, managing director of Bay City Capital (11/8).

Washington Post: The vaccine news is exciting. But keep your mask on
Editorial Board (11/9).

Washington Post: Pfizer’s perfect timing
Daniel W. Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (11/9).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Friends Of The Global Fight Releases Transition Document For Incoming Biden Administration, Outlines 5 Priority Actions For U.S. Global Health

Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: U.S. Global Health Leadership for a Safer and More Equitable World
“[On Monday], Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria released our transition document for the incoming Biden administration: ‘U.S. Global Health Leadership for a Safer and More Equitable World.’ We discuss five mutually reinforcing priority actions for a reinvigorated U.S. global health strategy: 1) Increase U.S. global health investments and align them with other public programs 2) Rally the world to end the three biggest infectious disease killers — AIDS, TB, and malaria 3) Reaffirm global leadership in support of the Global Fund 4) Strengthen pandemic preparedness and health security 5) Advance rights and good governance alongside health…” (11/9).

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Brookings Expert Discusses Ways Biden Administration Can Address Global Development, Diplomacy

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: How President Biden can reinvigorate global development and diplomacy
George Ingram, senior fellow for global economy and development at the Center for Sustainable Development at the Brookings Institution, discusses ways in which President-elect Joe Biden can reinvigorate global development and diplomacy, writing, “President Biden and his team face the options of incremental improvement or ambitious innovation — each approach has its own benefits and deficiencies — but, the more ambitious better fits with U.S. history of responding to moments of international crisis and will better serve U.S. global leadership for decades rather than several years” (11/9).

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October 2020 Issue Of WHO AFRO SRHR Initiative Newsletter Showcases Sexual, Reproductive Health, Family Planning Efforts In Benin, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, South Africa

WHO AFRO: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Newsletter — 2nd Issue — October 2020
“The SRHR Initiative in AFRO newsletter aims to showcase the project’s activities and best practices at country and regional levels.” The October 2020 newsletter highlights sexual and reproductive health and family planning efforts in Benin, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, and South Africa (October 2020).

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From the U.S. Government

GAO Report Examines Monitoring Efforts Of U.S. State Department, USAID Rule Of Law Assistance

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Rule of Law Assistance: State and USAID Could Improve Monitoring Efforts
“Improving the rule of law in countries overseas helps to protect fundamental rights, acts as a foundation for democratic rule and economic growth, and combats crime and extremism. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development allocated over $2.7 billion for rule of law assistance in the past 5 years. Monitoring how this aid is managed is key to identifying potential issues with projects and knowing when to take corrective action. State and USAID have done so for many assistance projects, but they didn’t always identify risks or assess monitoring reports. We recommended that the agencies better monitor such projects” (11/9).

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From KFF

KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of November 10, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (11/10).

A KFF-curated recap of pandemic-related news from last week is available here. 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.

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