KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

World Must Act On Climate Change, SDGs To Prevent Economic, Societal Disruptions, U.N. SG Says At Finance Summit

U.N. News: COVID disruption will ‘pale in comparison’ if world fails to act on climate change, SDGs
“The fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ‘go hand in hand,’ the U.N. chief told a major development bank conference on Thursday. ‘The decisions we make now will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond: Emissions must fall by half by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050 to reach the 1.5C goal,’ Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message to the virtual Finance in Common Summit. ‘If we fail to meet these goals, the disruption to economies, societies, and people caused by COVID-19 will pale in comparison to what the climate crisis holds in store’…” (11/12).

Devex Pro also examines development banks’ efforts on SDGs and climate change at the Finance in Common Summit.

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President-Elect Biden Plans To Roll Back Trump Administration Sexual, Reproductive Health Policies; Klain Says Delayed Transition Could Hamper COVID-19 Efforts

Devex: Biden may help U.S.-U.N. relations. But there isn’t a magic wand to undo damage.
“…After taking office come Jan. 20, 2021, the new administration is expected to announce that the U.N. Population Fund is not in violation of the Kemp-Kasten amendment, making the agency again eligible for U.S. funding. It will likely rejoin the Paris climate change agreement. And it is certain to maintain its commitment to the World Health Organization. But it will likely take time for the U.S. to return to its previous leadership role within diplomatic circles. And there is no guarantee that the U.S. will be able to fully regain the global trust it once held as a stable development and humanitarian partner, experts say…” (Lieberman, 11/13).

The Hill: Biden set to roll back Trump rules on abortion
“Joe Biden is expected to roll back several of the Trump administration’s changes to sexual and reproductive health programs, undoing a large portion of the president’s executive actions on abortion and women’s health. … Biden has also promised to reverse a ban on global health aid for foreign organizations that provide or promote abortions. The so-called ‘Mexico City policy’ — named for the city where former President Ronald Reagan first announced the ban — has become a game of political football, rescinded when Democratic presidents take office and reinstated by Republicans…” (Hellmann, 11/13).

POLITICO: Klain: Delayed transition could hamper coronavirus vaccine preparations
“The Trump administration’s refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden’s electoral victory could hinder the incoming team’s preparations on pressing issues, including the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, Biden’s future chief of staff said Thursday. In his first public interview since being named chief of staff, Ron Klain called the current administration’s stonewalling of Biden’s transition ‘unreasonable,’ but added that the president-elect’s preparations for the transfer were underway within legal limits…” (Choi, 11/12).

Additional coverage of the incoming Biden-Harris administration and Biden’s selection of Klain as chief of staff is available from Devex, POLITICO, and Reuters.

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More Than $2B Raised For Financing Mechanism To Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines To Poor Nations; Additional Funding Needed, Gavi Says

AP: Europe, Gates pledge funds to get vaccines tor poor nations
“European governments and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged Thursday to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency funds for a global effort aimed at ensuring eventual vaccines against the coronavirus are quickly available to poor countries — though it remains unclear how that might actually happen. The money will go to vaccine development and distribution efforts coordinated by a World Health Organization program called ACT-Accelerator. That includes Covax, an ambitious but troubled global project to buy and deliver virus vaccines for the world’s poorest people…” (Cheng, 11/12).

Reuters: Vaccine alliance secures $2 billion to fund COVID shots for poor nations
“A facility set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the GAVI vaccine group has exceeded an interim target of raising more than $2 billion to buy and distribute COVID-19 shots for poorer countries, but said it still needs more. … Another $5 billion will be needed in 2021 to procure COVID-19 vaccine doses as they come through development and are approved by regulators, GAVI said in a statement…” (Kelland/Nebehay, 11/12).

Additional coverage of the pledges is available from DW, The Hill, and Reuters.

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Media Outlets Examine Various Aspects Of Coronavirus Vaccine R&D, Experts' Comments On Potential Availability, Equitable Distribution

Bloomberg: Fauci Says End to Pandemic Is in Sight, Thanks to Vaccines (Loh, 11/12).

BMJ: Covid-19: Governments should demand transparency on vaccine deals, says MSF (Griffin, 11/12).

Forbes: Virus Fighter Peter Piot: On The Road To A Covid-19 Vaccine (Baker, 11/11).

The Guardian: Scientist behind BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine says it can end pandemic (Oltermann, 11/12).

NPR: China Is Inoculating Thousands With Unapproved COVID-19 Vaccines. Why? (Feng/Ruwitch, 11/12).

Reuters: Pfizer in talks with Brazil to supply COVID-19 vaccine by early 2021 (Fonseca/Rochabrun, 11/12).

Reuters: WHO in talks with Russian institute on Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine (Nebehay, 11/12).

Reuters: Fauci stresses on need for equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines (Maddipatla, 11/12).

STAT: Pfizer says placebo patients will eventually get its Covid-19 vaccine. The question of when is complicated (Herper, 11/12).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: What it would take to get super-cold COVID-19 vaccine to West Africa (Peyton, 11/12).

Xinhua: China spares no effort in developing COVID-19 vaccine (11/12).

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U.K.'s International Development Committee Report Raises Concerns Over Use Of ODA For R&D Of COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics, Diagnostics

Devex: U.K.’s use of aid for COVID-19 tools could breach international rules, politicians say
“British politicians have said the aid budget should not be used for research and development of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, despite government spending of more than £700 million ($920 million) in this area. Nonaid funds should instead be used to support these efforts, freeing up the aid budget to deal with the secondary impacts of the pandemic, according to a report by the International Development Committee, a cross-party group of politicians responsible for scrutinizing U.K. development work. … The IDC report said it was not clear if the government’s extensive funding of research and development for COVID-19 tools had been done in line with internationally agreed principles of aid spending, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee…” (Worley, 11/13).

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Successful In Preventing Coronavirus Spread, Taiwan Unable To Discuss Lessons At WHO Assembly; Activists' Cyberattacks Increase Against Agency

Reuters: WHO says faces ‘onslaught’ of cyberattacks as Taiwan complains of censorship
“The World Health Organization said on Thursday it had faced an ‘onslaught’ of cyberattacks by activists using key words like ‘Taiwan,’ after the government complained posts in support of the self-ruled island were being censored on Facebook. Fiercely democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its own, has been angered by its inability to fully access the WHO, of which it is not a member due to China’s objections, during the COVID-19 pandemic…” (Nebehay/Blanchard, 11/12).

Wall Street Journal: Taiwan Stopped Covid-19’s Spread, but Can’t Talk About It at WHO Meeting
“…Taiwan hasn’t recorded a locally transmitted coronavirus infection in about seven months but has been blocked from participating in a virtual gathering this week of the WHO’s 194-member World Health Assembly because of objections from Beijing, which considers the self-ruled island part of its territory. … Among the key lessons Taiwan has learned, its health officials say: Testing needs to be deployed in conjunction with an effective quarantine program, and making the program work isn’t just about enforcement but supporting those who are quarantined…” (Deng, 11/12).

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WHA Member States Agree To New Global NTD Roadmap Targeting 20 Diseases

U.N. News: Neglected tropical diseases: Countries endorse new targets to eradicate 20 killers
“A bold new blueprint to tackle all neglected tropical diseases has been agreed at the U.N. health agency’s World Health Assembly, which will involve a radical shift in approach by Member States and non-state actors, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday…” (11/12).

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Measles Cases, Deaths Soared Globally In 2019; Experts Concerned About Vaccination Rates Amid COVID-19

Bloomberg: Measles Cases Reach 23-Year High, Killing More Than 200,000
“Measles cases reached the highest level in 23 years in 2019 and health authorities warned that many countries aren’t vaccinating enough people amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The global total for confirmed measles infections rose to 869,770 last year, the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control said in a report released Thursday. The number of deaths soared by 50% compared with a low reached in 2016. The percentage of people who have received a first measles shot has stagnated in recent years and the coronavirus pandemic is now lowering vaccination rates by halting immunization campaigns, putting 94 million people at risk, according to the WHO…” (Mulier, 11/12).

Additional coverage of the new measles data is available from AP, The Hill, New York Times, Reuters, and U.N. News.

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Medical Oxygen, Antibiotics Can Help Treat Children With Pneumonia, UNICEF Says On World Day

U.N. News: ‘Bring life to those fighting for breath,’ UNICEF urges on World Pneumonia Day
“Pneumonia is not a new emergency; it takes the lives of some 800,000 children each year. But this year’s COVID-19 pandemic makes it even more critical to stop the deadly infection, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Thursday. Marking World Pneumonia Day, on 12 November, UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore highlighted the coronavirus factor, noting that ‘while the world grapples with the pandemic and the severe consequences it poses for the most vulnerable, we must not lose sight of the fact that pneumonia continues to claim more than 2,000 young lives every day.’ UNICEF pointed out that medical oxygen, coupled with antibiotics, could save the lives of many children suffering with severe pneumonia…” (11/12).

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Strong Political Will, Drug Donations Helped Malawi Become 2nd Sub-Saharan African Country To Eliminate Elephantiasis

Devex: Strong leadership, drug donations helped Malawi eliminate elephantiasis
“Just over a decade ago, there were parts of Malawi where nearly 80% of the population was infected by lymphatic filariasis, or LF, a parasitic disease spread by mosquitoes and commonly known as elephantiasis. … But the country turned this around, recently becoming only the second in sub-Saharan Africa to stop the transmission of the disease, after Togo in 2017. The World Health Organization attributes Malawi’s success to political will, which allowed it to scale up the distribution of donated drugs very quickly. Without sufficient funding and political commitment, however, other countries in the region are struggling to move toward elimination…” (Jerving, 11/13).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

Bloomberg: Tackling Malaria From Space (11/12).

The Guardian: Black and Asian people at greater risk of getting Covid, meta-study finds (Sample, 11/12).

The Hill: Norweigen PM: Gender equality is ‘essential for a sustainable recovery’ from coronavirus (Deese, 11/12).

Nature: Where did COVID come from? WHO investigation begins but faces challenges (Mallapaty, 11/11).

New Humanitarian: The future of aid (Multiple authors, 11/12).

PRI: Italy’s coronavirus response was a role model for Europe. What went wrong? (Barry, 11/12).

U.N. News: ‘No way’ to get vital humanitarian aid into Ethiopia’s Tigray region, U.N. warns (11/12).

Xinhua: WHO to provide Albania with 200,000 fast COVID-19 tests (11/13).

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Editorials and Opinions

Biden-Harris COVID-19 Advisory Board Must Help Regain Trust To Effectively Respond To Pandemic, Opinion Piece Says

The Hill: Biden-Harris COVID-19 advisory board should be met with cautious optimism
David Weill, principal at Weill Consulting Group and author

“…[W]hat should be the public’s expectation of [the Biden-Harris COVID-19 advisory board]? The answer: cautious optimism. Like many of my fellow Americans — Republican and Democrat — I am looking for hope concerning the fight against the coronavirus. … [W]hat we must do now is try to regain trust — in our political leaders, in our new task force, in our health care institutions charged with protecting us. It is the glue that holds the health care system together — lack of trust can render it ineffective. Restoring trust can begin with doing the right thing as vaccine candidates are developed, tested, approved, and go out to the public. The level of trust is clearly not there right now to effectively fight this scourge. But it can be regained — it must be regained — if we are to win our fight against the virus. Naming an impeccable group of individuals to advise our new administration is a step in the right direction, as is the confidence that the new president will listen to their advice. After all, winning this battle is achievable. It’s a matter of trust” (11/12).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Topics Related To Vaccines, Including COVID-19 Vaccine Development, Inequalities In Vaccine Access

Bloomberg: Here’s to the Immigrant Heroes Behind the BioNTech Vaccine
Andreas Kluth, columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and author (11/13).

Devex: Opinion: Prioritizing prevention with vaccines in a post-pandemic world
Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president of Sanofi Pasteur (11/13).

Foreign Policy: Vaccine Inequality Fuels Suspicion and Division
Oussama Mezoui, president and CEO of Penny Appeal USA (11/12).

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Governments Must Implement Wider Policy Reforms To Address Mental Health, Root Causes, Says Editorial

Financial Times: Now is the time to tackle the mental illness epidemic
Editorial Board

“Business leaders have for decades boasted in company annual reports about how people are their priority. It is surprising, therefore, that mental health has taken so long to reach the top of their agenda. … Coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns are a two-pronged attack on the mental wellbeing of workers, compounded by bereavement, personal grief and the broader temptation to ‘doom-scroll’ bad news streaming through social media. … Strategies to reduce risks to mental health need to be deepened, expanded beyond companies, and sustained beyond the crisis, with the emphasis placed as much on prevention as on treatment and cure. … Wider policy reforms that might remove some deeper causes of mental illness must be the responsibility of governments, not business. Sadly, the pandemic will stretch their resources more than ever. Still, if there were ever a time for policymakers to address the structural and societal roots of poor mental health, and thus cut the longer-range costs of treating its symptoms later, this is surely it” (11/13).

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WHA Must Act Decisively On, End Breast Milk Substitute Marketing, Opinion Piece Says

Devex: Opinion: What the makers of breast milk substitutes are doing on social media — and why it matters
Sandra Remancus, director of Alive & Thrive

“…As [the World Health Assembly (WHA)] reconvenes this week, it is expected to take up an issue that requires urgent attention, particularly during the time of COVID-19: the digital marketing of breast milk substitutes, or BMS. The need for this discussion is urgent. Every year, hundreds of thousands of children and mothers die due to inadequate breastfeeding. And research suggests that in the middle of the pandemic — as has occurred during past health crises — mothers and other caregivers who are concerned about the health of their children are having their fears played on. … According to research on the impact of BMS marketing, such promotion not only discourages breastfeeding, but imposes a heavy triple blow on the nutrition of mothers and children. As well as depriving infants and mothers of breastfeeding’s clear health benefits, it imposes costs on families and health systems … WHA needs to act decisively and send a clear message to member states and to companies: These promotions are wrong and must be stopped. The meeting should highlight the harmful practices and violations of the international code and call for member states to enforce laws on curbing this marketing where such regulations exist and to pass relevant laws where they do not…” (11/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Guttmacher Institute Releases Analysis On Ways Biden-Harris Administration, Congress Can Address Sexual, Reproductive Health Domestically, Globally

Guttmacher Institute: Reviving Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Biden-Harris Era
Leah H. Keller, policy manager at Guttmacher Institute, and colleagues “lay out recommendations for Congress and the executive branch to meet the needs of communities and populations that will be most affected by sexual and reproductive health policy decisions that lie ahead,” including policies on addressing sexual and reproductive health domestically and globally (11/10).

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Blog Post Highlights 6 Key Takeaways From Event On American Leadership To Advance SDGs

Brookings Institution’s “Up Front”: American leadership in advancing the SDGs to achieve equity and sustainability
Anthony F. Pipa, senior fellow for Global Economy and Development at Brookings’ Center for Sustainable Development; Max Bouchet, senior policy analyst for Global Economy and Development; and Krista Rasmussen, senior research associate of policy planning at the U.N. Foundation, discuss six key takeaways from the second annual American Leadership in Advancing Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) event hosted by the Brookings Institution and U.N. Foundation (11/12).

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Pew Research Center Examines 14 Advanced Economies' Views On WHO's Initial COVID-19 Response

Pew Research Center: How people around the world see the World Health Organization’s initial coronavirus response
Mara Mordecai, research assistant at the Pew Research Center, examines “how people in 14 advanced economies viewed the [WHO’s] initial COVID-19 response, based on surveys conducted in June through August by Pew Research Center” (11/12).

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Think Global Health Publishes Articles Related To COVID-19

Think Global Health: The Thousand and One Natural Shocks of COVID-19
Kevin O’Rourke, freelance scientific writer at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and Alize Ferrari, research fellow within the policy and epidemiology team at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research and an affiliate assistant professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington (11/6).

Think Global Health: Solidarity, Agility and Continuity: Three Cornerstones of Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Response
Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, minister of health for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (11/10).

Think Global Health: Reflections on the Election in Pandemic America
David P. Fidler, adjunct senior fellow for cybersecurity and global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (11/12).

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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 390 of the ‘Global Fund Observer.’ The newsletter includes articles about the main decisions made at the fund’s 44th Board meeting, the adoption of remote audit and investigation procedures by the Office of the Inspector General, and the fund’s performance based on indicator targets (11/12).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC Around The World Newsletter Focuses On Measles Globally, Rise In Cases, Deaths

CDC’s “Around the World”: Global Measles Surge
The latest issue of CDC’s “Around the World” newsletter addresses the state of measles globally, highlighting new data showing “a sharp increase in the number of new infections, the highest number reported in 23 years, and a tragic rise of 50% from 2016 to 2019 in measles deaths” (November 2020).

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From KFF

KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of November 13, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (11/13).

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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