KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

President-Elect Biden Taps Former Ebola Czar Ron Klain As Chief Of Staff, Forms Whole-Of-Government Special COVID-19 Transition Team

AP: World leaders talking to Biden about the virus, other issues
“World leaders spoke to President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday about cooperating on the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other issues, even as President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede complicates the U.S. post-election transition…” (Kim et al., 11/12).

New York Times: The Surging Coronavirus Finds a Federal Leadership Vacuum
“…[A]s the country enters what may be the most intense stage of the pandemic yet, the Trump administration remains largely disengaged. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is trying to assume a leadership mantle, with the appointment of a coronavirus advisory board and a call for all Americans to wear masks, but until his inauguration on Jan. 20, he lacks the authority to mobilize a federal response. … Washington’s leadership void is raising anxiety in states and cities…” (Stolberg et al., 11/11).

POLITICO: Biden forms special Covid transition team
“President-elect Joe Biden has formed a special transition team dedicated to coordinating the coronavirus response across the government, according to documents obtained by POLITICO and people familiar with the decision. The group consists of dozens of transition officials and cuts across a slew of federal agencies, in a sign of the comprehensive approach that Biden is planning to take toward combating the worsening pandemic…” (Cancryn, 11/11).

STAT: With Ron Klain, Biden picks a pandemic-response veteran for chief of staff
“President-elect Biden’s selection on Wednesday of Ron Klain, the former federal ‘Ebola czar,’ as White House chief of staff immediately put a pandemic-response veteran at the highest levels of government. The choice of Klain, a longtime Biden confidant who served as chief of staff to then-Vice President Biden during the Obama administration, is the latest signal that the president-elect is treating the pandemic as his top priority…” (Facher, 11/12).

Additional coverage of President-elect Biden’s actions to address the COVID-19 pandemic and other global issues is available from Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, NBC News, Reuters, and The Telegraph.

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Devex Reports On WHA Developments, Including WHO Health Emergencies Program Evaluation, Call For More Sustainable, Flexible Funding

Devex: Enough for Ebola, but not for pandemics? Why WHO emergencies work needs reform.
“The World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, while having demonstrated progress since its establishment in 2016, still requires areas of improvement, according to the independent committee tasked with the review of the program’s work. The Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014 highlighted weaknesses in WHO’s emergency work, and led to the establishment of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. It was a huge reform effort that required the different levels of the organization — headquarters, regional, and country offices — to work together with a clear structure and processes. The program has demonstrated significant progress since. … But some concerns remain, according to the committee’s latest evaluation report presented at this week’s 73rd World Health Assembly…” (Ravelo, 11/12).

Devex: Q&A: What sustainable WHO financing means for global health security
“As countries propose World Health Organization reforms this week at the resumed 73rd World Health Assembly, a network of global health security experts have called on them to double their flexible funding to the organization. WHO’s budget has been reliant on voluntary contributions. But these donations are largely tied to specific programs and issues, leaving the organization little leeway to allocate and reallocate resources. The organization does receive flexible funding, mainly in the form of assessed contributions, but this only covers a very small percentage of the organization’s budget — at less than 20% of WHO’s total budget — a challenge that has plagued the organization for years…” (Ravelo, 11/12).

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Paris Peace Forum Expected To Garner $500M In Funding For ACT Accelerator

Reuters: Coronavirus research to get $500 million boost at Paris meeting
“States and private charities will commit to more than $500 million to boost research into the novel coronavirus at the Paris Peace Forum, organizers of the event said on Thursday. The forum, an annual meeting of heads of state and government with civil society organizations and charitable foundations, said the funds would come from those participating in the ACT-Accelerator initiative, a program designed to ensure global access to COVID-19 tests, therapeutics, and vaccines…” (De Clercq, 11/12).

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E.U. Reaches Deal To Purchase Pfizer-BioNTech Coronavirus Vaccine; Developing Countries Face Challenges In Purchasing, Distributing New Vaccines; Russia Reports COVID-19 Vaccine 92% Effective But Questions Remain

POLITICO: BioNTech/Pfizer and Commission reach coronavirus vaccine deal
“BioNTech and Pfizer confirmed Wednesday that they completed a deal for the European Commission to purchase up to 300 million doses of their front-runner coronavirus vaccine. … The Commission agreed to purchase 200 million doses of the vaccine, with the option to purchase an additional 100 million, according to a company press release…” (Deutsch, 11/11).

VOA News: Developing Nations Could Lose Out in Race for Coronavirus Vaccine
“A coronavirus vaccine that has proved 90% effective after early trials has raised hopes that the global pandemic can be brought under control in the coming months. But the nature of the vaccine means that less developed health systems face major challenges rolling out any inoculation programs…” (Ridgwell, 11/11).

AP: Russia says COVID-19 vaccine is 92% effective on early data (Litvinova, 11/11).

Bloomberg: Merkel Warns of Tough Winter Ahead Even With Glimpse of Vaccine (Colitt/Delfs, 11/11).

Fast Company: Solar fridges and powdered vaccines: How to get a COVID-19 vaccine to the developing world (Peters, 11/12).

Financial Times: Fauci predicts positive data from second Covid-19 vaccine soon (Kuchler/Gross, 11/11).

Financial Times: Hungary to become first EU state to trial Russian Covid vaccine (Hopkins/Foy, 11/12).

France 24: E.U. hopes to distribute Covid-19 vaccine within months, cases surge in Italy (11/12).

The Hill: European Union to purchase 200 million doses of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine (Bowden, 11/11).

NPR: Why Poorer Countries Aren’t Likely To Get The Pfizer Vaccine Any Time Soon (Doucleff, 11/11).

Reuters: South Africa should aim to cover 10% of population via COVAX, advisors say (Winning, 11/11).

Reuters: Brazil says Chinese vaccine trial can resume after suspension (Boadle et al., 11/11).

Science: Russia’s claim of a successful COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t pass the ‘smell test,’ critics say (Cohen, 11/11).

Washington Post: Vaccines have never been distributed equally. A coronavirus vaccine would be no different, history suggests (Mellen, 11/12).

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Pfizer CEO's Stock Sale On Day Of COVID-19 Vaccine Announcement Raises Questions

NPR: Pfizer CEO Sold Millions In Stock After Coronavirus Vaccine News, Raising Questions
“The chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, sold $5.6 million worth of stock in the pharmaceutical company on Monday. The sale took place on the same day Pfizer announced that its experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective. The company’s stock soared on the news. Bourla sold the stock as part of a stock-trading plan that aims to shield corporate executives from allegations of illegal insider trading. … The timing of the implementation of Bourla’s plan, however, has raised questions about what the Pfizer CEO knew and when, and whether that may invite further scrutiny from federal regulators…” (Dreisbach, 11/11).

Additional coverage of Bourla’s stock sales is available from Axios, CNN Business, Financial Times, The Hill, Reuters, and Wall Street Journal.

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Epidemic Modelers Warn 'Wave' Analogies Misguided As Cases Rise In Americas, Europe; Some Island Nations, Secretive Countries Among Possibly Last Virus-Free Places

AP: Pacific isles, secretive states among last virus-free places
“From Argentina to Zimbabwe, from the Vatican to the White House, the coronavirus has spread relentlessly. It’s been confirmed on every continent but one and in nearly every country. Yet a few places have yet to report even a single case of infection. Some have been genuinely spared so far, while others may be hiding the truth…” (Perry, 11/12).

New York Times: India’s Covid-19 Cases Have Plummeted. Many Fear a New Wave.
“Two months ago, India looked like a coronavirus disaster zone. … Today, India’s situation looks much different. Reported infections, deaths and the share of people testing positive have all fallen significantly. … But doubts persist about the reasons for India’s drop, and some researchers say the results stem at least in part from a possible change in testing, though researchers say they do not have access to complete data to really know the big picture. The experts generally agree that the number of infections has far outstripped efforts to track them in India, like elsewhere, and that infections in the country could still get considerably worse…” (Gettleman et al., 11/11).

Reuters: COVID-19 cases still surging in the Americas, the WHO warns
“COVID-19 cases are still surging in the Americas, averaging 150,000 a day in last week, the World Health Organization’s regional office said on Wednesday. The United States continues to report record-breaking numbers, while parts of Canada and some states in Mexico, including the capital, are experiencing spikes, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) said…” (Boadle, 11/11).

STAT: With a meteoric rise in deaths, talk of waves is misguided, say Covid-19 modelers
“…The meteoric rise in U.S. Covid-19 cases and death is not another wave. Experts modeling the coronavirus pandemic may differ on details, but they agree that calling this a second or third wave is incorrect because there was never a significant trough before cases began mounting again…” (Cooney, 11/12).

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U.N. Agencies Urge Action To Prevent Widespread Famine In Yemen

AP: U.N. food chief: Yemen faces ‘looming famine,’ needs millions
“The head of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning World Food Programme sounded an alarm Wednesday that war-torn Yemen faces ‘looming famine’ and urged nations to provide hundreds of millions of dollars immediately, saying it will mean ‘the difference between life and death of millions of Yemenis’…” (Lederer, 11/11).

U.N. News: U.N. envoy urges Yemen’s warring parties to place ‘a firm bet on peace’, as famine threat continues
“…U.N. humanitarian relief coordinator Mark Lowcock said Yemen’s most urgent task, was ‘to prevent widespread famine.’… Mr. Lowcock said that full access to Hudaydah and other ports, where the majority of exported food and aid is received, together with a lasting ceasefire, are needed to reverse ‘the slide towards famine.’ He updated that only 45 percent of funding requirements had been secured in 2020 with grave implications for food and health services access…” (11/11).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

Borgen Magazine: SafeBoda App Delivers Contraceptives in Uganda (Raza, 11/11).

CIDRAP News: COVID-related shortages of malarial, other drugs spotlighted (McLernon, 11/11).

CNN: This $1 made-in-Africa Covid-19 test kit could revolutionize testing on the continent (Salaudeen, 11/10).

Devex: Could the pandemic drive more climate funding to grassroots organizations? (Cheney, 11/12).

DW: World in Progress: The 2020 health emergencies you haven’t heard of (yet) (Steffen, 11/11).

The Guardian: Spike in yellow fever deaths prompts Nigeria to revive vaccination campaigns (11/12).

The Hill: Indonesia signs $1B loan with Australia for help with pandemic (Coleman, 11/11).

New Humanitarian: Rethinking Humanitarianism podcast: U.S. election special (Aly, 11/11).

NPR: Protecting Women Against HIV Just Got 9 Times Easier (Beaubien, 11/11).

SciDev.Net: Life with fistula — and stigma (Amutabi, 11/11).

Washington Post: Bolsonaro says Brazilians must not be ‘sissies’ about coronavirus, as ‘all of us are going to die one day’ (Farzan/Berger, 11/11).

WIRED: The Strange and Twisted Tale of Hydroxychloroquine (Rogers, 11/11).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Piece Discusses Actions Biden Administration, Coronavirus Taskforce Should Take To Address COVID-19, Other Challenges

The Conversation: Biden has announced a COVID taskforce to guide him through the crisis. But there are many challenges ahead
Lesley Russell, adjunct associate professor at Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney

“Tackling the health, economic, and social crises wrought by the coronavirus pandemic is the first order of business for U.S. president-elect Joe Biden and his transition team. … Biden must, in short order, announce his cabinet and get them working on their agendas; assess which of Trump’s actions need to be undone (including withdrawal from the World Health Organization and the Paris climate agreement); develop legislation and executive orders if he can’t get the Senate to work cooperatively and pass bills that come forward from the House of Representatives; and have a contingency plan in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Obamacare in 2021. … Biden has … promised to reinstate the national and international public health and first responder systems that Trump dismantled. This includes bringing back the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense and continued support for the work of the World Health Organization. … None of this will be successful unless, and until, Biden can bring Congress together to act and simultaneously begin healing the divisions in the nation. He must restore trust in government and science, ensure transparency and accountability, and build a common purpose so people will act for the common good. That’s a big ask — but the coronavirus pandemic demands it” (11/11).

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Opinion Piece Outlines 3 Ways U.S. CDC Can Restore Its Reputation, Regain Public's Trust

Quartz: Three ways the U.S. CDC can regain the public’s trust
Alexandra Ossola, special projects editor at Quartz, and Katherine Ellen Foley, health and science reporter at Quartz

“Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems that, for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost everything that could have gone wrong has. … Within a few months, the organization upon which other countries modeled their own public health entities has been so maligned and undermined that public trust in it has eroded. … Even if the CDC’s prestige has declined in recent months, there’s still time for it to regain the public’s trust — and likely save lives in the process. … Here are three ways the CDC could restore its reputation as the premier public health agency in the world … Depoliticize … Increase Communication … Regain control over the data … So how do we get there? Trust is not something that can be rebuilt in a day — or with a single presidential election. But there’s still something the CDC can do to make progress: address the public health crisis in front of it. … Rather than trying only to try to fight the pandemic, CDC leaders will have to assess why things have gone so wrong, and then pivot from there. It’ll take humility — and ideally, more than a bit of urgency” (11/9).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Challenges Of Distributing COVID-19 Vaccine

Devex: Opinion: The unspoken COVID-19 vaccine challenges — distribution and corruption
Jonathan Cushing, head of major projects at Transparency International Health Initiative (11/10).

Washington Post: The secret weapon for distributing a potential covid-19 vaccine
Joanna Radin, assistant professor of history of science and medicine and public voices fellow at Yale (11/12).

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Decentralizing Care, Strengthening Health Systems, Taking Person-Centered Approach Vital To Addressing NCDs, Opinion Piece Says

Devex: Opinion: COVID-19 is epicenter of bigger health earthquake — NCDs. Here’s reason for optimism.
Gina Agiostratidou, program director for the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s type 1 diabetes program

“Devastating as it is, COVID-19 is only the epicenter of a much bigger health earthquake, magnifying the long-standing suffering of people living with noncommunicable diseases, or NCDs. … While attention to NCDs continues to lag generally, a growing number of countries — many of them low-income — are investing in bold and effective strategies to expand care. In short, there’s a reason for optimism. Here are three lessons learned from work on diabetes globally that should be brought to scale: 1. Train nonspecialist health workers to manage multiple conditions to decentralize care … 2. Sustainably strengthen health systems while addressing individual diseases … 3. Take a person-centered approach…” (11/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

MFAN Applauds Release Of Senate FY21 SFOPs Bill, Urges Congress To Include Additional Resources For Global COVID-19 In Any Further Supplemental Appropriations

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network: MFAN Applauds Release of FY21 Senate SFOPS Bill
In a statement delivered on behalf of MFAN, MFAN Co-Chairs Lester Munson, Larry Nowels, and Tessie San Martin note, “[The FY 2021 State Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill released by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday] is a significant new investment in American foreign assistance, and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network commends the robust level of foreign assistance funding in the bill. MFAN continues to urge Congress to include significant additional resources in any further supplemental appropriations bills to address the global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic…” (11/10).

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Blog Posts, Releases Discuss Various Topics Related To COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Treating Other Diseases, Vaccines, Gender-Based Violence, One Health, Misinformation

African Arguments: How can countries continue to combat malaria during a pandemic?
Ciku Kimeria, communication consultant at Speak up Africa (11/11).

BMJ Opinion: Pharma companies must open their books on the funding agreements for covid-19 vaccines
Manuel Martin, medical innovation and access policy adviser for the Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign, and Isabelle Jani-Friend, freelance journalist and patient leader for Just Treatment (11/12).

IntraHealth International’s “VITAL”: Gender-Based Violence on the Rise in the COVID-19 Era
Elizabeth Drachman, senior communications manager at IntraHealth (11/11).

UNICEF: UNICEF and PAHO launch joint COVID-19 vaccine tender on behalf of COVAX Facility (11/11).

World Bank Blogs: Staying focused on ‘One Health’ to prevent the next pandemic
Martien van Nieuwkoop, global director for Agriculture and Food Global Practice at the World Bank (11/11).

World Economic Forum: Are you an infodemiologist? Here are 7 tips on how to spot false information about the pandemic
Douglas Broom, senior writer for Formative Content (11/12).

World Economic Forum: How to keep fighting neglected tropical diseases during a pandemic
Mary-Jean Nleya, advisory board member for Youth Combating NTDs, writer for the Global Communiqué, and associate fellow at the Royal Commonwealth Society, and Noella Bigirimana, advisory board chair for Youth Combating NTDs (11/11).

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Early Treatment For COVID-19 Would Benefit Individual Patients, Reduce Burden On Health Care System, JAMA Viewpoint Says

NIH: Treatments for people with early COVID-19 infection is an urgent research focus
“COVID-19 treatments for people with early infection are needed urgently, according to a JAMA Viewpoint article by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and colleagues. Treating people early in the course of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, would speed their recovery, reduce the likelihood that they develop severe outcomes, and reduce demand on the health care system, they write…” (11/11).

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Global Health Leaders Call For Urgent Action, Global Solidarity To Achieve Polio Eradication At World Health Assembly

Global Polio Eradication Initiative: Global health leaders urge emergency action on polio at World Health Assembly
“In a year marked by the global COVID-19 pandemic, global health leaders convening virtually at this week’s World Health Assembly called for continued urgent action on polio eradication. The Assembly congratulated the African region on reaching the public health milestone of certification as wild polio free, but highlighted the importance of global solidarity to achieve the goal of global eradication and certification. Member States, including from polio-affected and high-risk countries, underscored the damage COVID-19 has caused to immunization systems around the world, leaving children at much more risk of preventable diseases such as polio. Delegates urged all stakeholders to follow WHO and UNICEF’s joint call for emergency action launched on 6 November to prioritize polio in national budgets as they rebuild their immunization systems in the wake of COVID-19, and the need to urgently mobilize an additional US$ 400 million for polio for emergency outbreak response over the next 14 months…” (11/11).

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From KFF

KFF Analyzes Global Health Aspects Of Senate SFOPs, LHHS FY21 Appropriations Bills

KFF: Senate Appropriations Committee Releases FY 2021 State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) and Labor Health and Human Services (Labor HHS) Appropriations Bills
The Senate Appropriations Committee released its FY 2021 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) (links to bill and report) and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor HHS) (links to bill and report) appropriations bills and accompanying reports on November 10, 2020. The SFOPs bill includes funding for U.S. global health programs at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), while the Labor HHS bill includes funding for global health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Funding provided to the State Department and USAID under the SFOPs bill and through the Global Health Programs (GHP) account, which represents the bulk of global health assistance, totals $9.3 billion in the bill, $161 million above the FY20 enacted level, $3.3 billion above the President’s FY21 request, and $96.5 million above the FY21 House level (11/11).

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KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of November 12, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (11/12).

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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