KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Surge Of COVID-19 Cases In Some Countries Concerns WHO; Agency Head Warns No Time For Complacency

U.N. News: No time for complacency as COVID-19 cases surge: WHO chief
“Despite encouraging news about COVID-19 vaccines and cautious optimism over potential new tools against the disease, ‘this is not the time for complacency,’ the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday during his latest press briefing in Geneva. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the U.N. agency is ‘extremely concerned’ by the surge in cases in some countries, particularly in Europe and the Americas, which is pushing health workers and health systems to breaking point…” (11/16).

Additional coverage of the WHO’s comments and World Health Assembly proceedings is available from Reuters and VOA News (2).

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WHO Welcomes Coronavirus Vaccine Research Results, Urges Continued Data Collection, Cautions Over Challenges To Distribution; Media Outlets Report On Other Vaccine-Related News

Reuters: World should not be complacent after COVID-19 vaccine news: WHO
“The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed Moderna reporting on Monday that its experimental vaccine showed 94.5% efficacy but said that ‘many questions’ remained and it was no time for complacency…” (Nebehay/Farge, 11/16).

Reuters: WHO sees limited COVID-19 vaccine doses in early 2021
“The World Health Organization’s chief scientist said on Monday she expected there to be ‘very limited’ COVID-19 vaccine doses available in the first half of 2021…” (Shields et al., 11/16).

VOA News: WHO Says Vaccine Announcement Encouraging, More Data Needed
“…WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that level of efficacy in this vaccine, as well as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine candidate announced last week, is very encouraging. But, she said, there are many questions remaining about the duration of protection they provide, the impact on severe cases of the virus, the impact on different subpopulations, especially the elderly, as well as the adverse events beyond a certain period. Swaminathan said she hoped the clinical trials would continue to collect data to answer these questions…” (11/16).

Washington Post: WHO tempers prospect of a coronavirus vaccine with warning of a long fight to come
“…The caution at the world’s top public health body was not directed toward the achievements of Moderna and other vaccine developers, but at creating a realistic understanding of the enormous task of immunization. Supply and delivery will pose high hurdles, among others, even if a vaccine is highly effective, according to public health experts…” (Taylor, 11/16).

Additional coverage of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine research and delivery is available from Axios, Bloomberg, CNBC, The Guardian, POLITICO, Homeland Preparedness News, New York Times (2), NPR (2), Reuters (2) (3), Science, STAT, Telegraph, and VOA News.

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Gains In Health, Education, Social Protections Slow In Africa Prior To Pandemic; Nearly 20% Of COVID-Related Deaths In Africa Associated With Diabetes; Doctors In Kenya Threaten Strike Over Safety

Devex: Progress in health and education slows in Africa while social protections deteriorate
“Overall gains made in health and education are slowing on the African continent and progress on social protection is deteriorating, according to a decade’s worth of data on African governance compiled and analyzed by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. The 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance — which provides the most comprehensive dataset measuring governance across the continent — found that while governance has improved overall during the past decade, the rate of advancement has slowed in the past five years. … The data runs through the end of 2019 and does not account for the effects of COVID-19…” (Jerving, 11/16).

Quartz Africa: Nearly one in five Covid-19 deaths in Africa are linked to the rise of diabetes
“…The World Health Organization now says 18.3% — or nearly one in five — Covid-19 deaths in Africa were found to be among people with diabetes in an analysis of 14 African countries. So far about 46,626 deaths have been recorded in Africa, a number that is much lower in both absolute and per capita terms than those of Europe and the Americas…” (Edward-Ekpu, 11/16).

The Telegraph: Four doctors die of Covid-19 in 24 hours, as a second wave hits Kenya
“After four doctors died of Covid-19 in 24 hours in Kenya there are mounting concerns about the safety of frontline workers. The country’s doctors’ union has told the government its members will go on strike in three weeks unless they receive more personal protective equipment (PPE). It is thought that 10 doctors died in the last week but the figures remain unclear. … The news of the deaths comes amid mounting fears that a second coronavirus wave is hitting East Africa’s most developed economy…” (Brown, 11/16).

Additional coverage of the doctors’ threat to strike in Kenya is available from BBC News.

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President-Elect Biden, Advisers Discuss Pandemic Plans, Need For Smooth Transition From Trump Administration

Devex: U.S. should reengage in global health in Biden government, senator says
“The United States should support global vaccine development and delivery under a Biden administration and ‘turn the tide of this pandemic globally and reengage in a way that reimagines our role in public health,’ Senator Chris Coons said at an event Monday. The U.S. needs to ‘lead by example’ and to do so it must first get the coronavirus pandemic under control domestically, said Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, who is close to President-elect Joe Biden, and is rumored to be among those considered to become secretary of state in the new administration…” (Saldinger, 11/17).

New York Times: Dr. Céline Gounder, Adviser to Biden, on the Next Covid Attack Plan
“When President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office in January, he will inherit a pandemic that has convulsed the country. His transition team last week announced a 13-member team of scientists and doctors who will advise on control of the coronavirus. One of them is Dr. Céline Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center and assistant professor at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. In a wide-ranging conversation with the New York Times, she discussed plans to prioritize racial inequities, to keep schools open as long as possible, and to restore the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the premiere public health agency in the world…” (Mandavilli, 11/16).

POLITICO: Biden pressures Trump on coronavirus: ‘More people may die if we don’t coordinate’
“President-elect Joe Biden pressed the Trump administration Monday to offer up more details about how it intends to allocate Covid-19 vaccinations once they are available, while also accusing the president of putting lives at risk by refusing to coordinate with his team…” (Niedzwiadek, 11/16).

Reuters: ‘More people may die,’ Biden says, if Trump goes on blocking pandemic cooperation
“…Biden will inherit an economy that has suffered millions of job losses during a pandemic that has killed more than 246,000 people in the United States. U.S. COVID-19 cases are surging as Biden prepares to take office on Jan. 20…” (Hunnicutt et al., 11/16).

Washington Post: Biden wants to curb the coronavirus but steers clear of shutdowns
“President-elect Joe Biden and his team Monday sent the clearest signal yet that he won’t put the country into another national shutdown, showing deep concern for a fragile economy amid a massive spike in coronavirus infections that is straining hospitals and plunging the nation into a more severe crisis…” (Linskey/Sullivan, 11/16).

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Biden Expected To Rescind Mexico City Policy; Advocates Urge Congressional Passage Of Global HER Act To Permanently Repeal Policy

Salon: How Trump’s anti-abortion zeal shook fragile health systems around the world
“…President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to reverse the [Mexico City] 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. … Since Ronald Reagan, Republican presidents have barred foreign aid organizations from using U.S. global health funds to counsel women about abortion or refer them to a safe abortion provider. But the Trump administration vastly expanded those anti-abortion restrictions, known as ‘the global gag rule’ by opponents. … The Trump administration proudly touted these efforts to protect ‘the unborn abroad,’ but the rules have left international aid groups deeply skeptical of U.S. promises and deepened the nation’s rift with European countries that have long viewed abortion access as vital to women’s health and safety. Some major organizations opted out of any U.S. funding rather than comply with the new strictures…” (Varney, 11/15).

Vox: Biden can do 3 things on day one to unwind Trump’s war on reproductive health
“…[T]here is likely an end in sight for many of the Trump administration’s policies: Since they were enacted by executive action, they can be undone by President-elect Joe Biden when he takes office, without any help from Congress. Biden has promised to do exactly that, spelling out in campaign documents his plan to reverse many of Trump’s actions. … Like Democrats in the past, Biden has pledged to rescind the policy. … But reproductive health advocates want to see him do more. They are urging him to champion the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act, which would permanently repeal the Mexico City policy…” (North, 11/16).

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U.K. Considering Temporary Reduction In Foreign Aid Spending, From 0.7% To 0.5% Of GNI

The Guardian: U.K. aid budget facing billions in cuts
“The Treasury is planning to slash billions from the overseas aid budget despite the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, praising the government’s 0.7% aid target on Monday as representing U.K. values in front of aides to Joe Biden. The Treasury wants to cut the aid budget from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% next year and plans to make the announcement as part of next Monday’s one-year spending review…” (Wintour, 11/17).

The Times: Andrew Mitchell condemns plan to cut foreign aid
“Boris Johnson will diminish Britain’s role on the world stage if he cuts foreign aid budget as part of an attempt to help repair the nation’s coronavirus-ravaged finances, Conservative MPs have warned. Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary, said that the government’s plans to reduce the 0.7 target to 0.5 percent on a temporary basis were extraordinary…” (Elliott et al., 11/7).

Additional coverage of the plan to cut the foreign aid budget is available from Reuters and The Telegraph.

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Devex Reports On Proceedings Of OECD DAC High-Level Meeting

Devex: OECD DAC agrees to policy tweaks, delays moves on climate, civil society
“The COVID-19 response, climate action, and how the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee works with civil society all featured at the committee’s biennial high-level meeting last week, though progress on each was incremental. The backdrop was a new report from OECD, the Global Outlook on Financing for Sustainable Development, which found that the SDG financing gap could increase by 70% to $4.2 trillion as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. … In April, with civil society calling for greater developing spending in response to the pandemic, the group of 30 wealthy-country donors instead announced they would ‘strive to protect’ ODA budgets as governments spend big at home. Some questioned how much last week’s meeting accomplished…” (Saldinger/Chadwick, 11/16).

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Current State Of Global Food Security 'Totally Unacceptable,' U.N. SG Says

U.N. News: Rising hunger, ‘an outrage in a world of plenty’: Guterres
“Although [the World Food Programme], like many other U.N. agencies, must work in politically charged settings, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the state of global food security, flagged the U.N. chief [António Guterres]. … He cited WFP figures that 690 million people do have not enough to eat, as 130 million more, risk being pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of the year, spelling out that ‘this is totally unacceptable.’ Moreover, the impacts of food insecurity are ‘profoundly gendered,’ sidelining the very women who can help ‘in overcoming this challenge’ to greater suffering. Appealing for a massive rescue package for the most vulnerable people and countries, he stressed the need to ensure that recovery address inequalities and fragilities and that health and social protection systems are strengthened with more robust food systems a ‘key part of the future’…” (11/16).

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WHO Announces Plan To Eliminate Cervical Cancer Worldwide By 2050

U.N. News: WHO rolls out plan to rid world of cervical cancer, saving millions of lives
“The World Health Organization (WHO) set out a strategy on Tuesday for eliminating cervical cancer, which would avoid the death of an estimated five million women and girls from the disease, by 2050. … The strategy, backed by WHO Member States at the World Health Assembly last week, involves vaccinating 90 percent of girls by the age of 15, screening 70 percent of women by the age of 35 and again by the age of 45, and treating 90 percent of women identified with cervical disease…” (11/16).

Additional coverage of the plan is available from Reuters.

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Marie Stopes International Changes Name To Put Distance Between Campaigner's Views On Eugenics, Interracial Marriage

Devex: Marie Stopes International changes its name amid Black Lives Matter protests
“As of Nov. 17, the organization known as Marie Stopes International will go by a different name. In an intentional move to break its connection with Marie Stopes — a woman who ‘held many opinions which are in stark contrast to MSI’s core values and principles’ — the global provider of contraception and safe abortion will now be known as MSI Reproductive Choices, the organization said in a press release. The change is something that’s been ‘under discussion for some time’ and was approved by a board resolution in November last year, CEO Simon Cooke told Devex…” (Smith, 11/17).

Additional coverage of MSI’s name change is available from Devex Pro, The Guardian, and The Telegraph.

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WHO Investigating Possible Small Cluster Of COVID-19 Cases Among Headquarter Staff; Agency Recorded 65 Cases Since Beginning Of Pandemic

AP: Internal email reveals 65 virus cases among WHO Geneva staff
“The World Health Organization has recorded 65 cases of the coronavirus among staff based at its headquarters, including five people who worked on the premises and were in contact with one another, an internal email obtained by the Associated Press shows. The U.N. health agency said it is investigating how and where the five people became infected — and that it has not determined whether transmission happened at its offices. WHO’s confirmation Monday of the figures in the email was the first time it has publicly provided such a count…” (Cheng/Keaten, 11/16).

Yahoo News: WHO responds to report of COVID-19 cases at the organization’s HQ in Geneva
“During a press conference on Monday, World Health Organization official Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove responded to a report about coronavirus cases at their Geneva headquarters. She said that 65 positive cases associated with staff there were reported since the start of the pandemic, and five cases in the last week. … ‘So those are 65 cases [among headquarter staff] reported since the beginning of the year. 36 have had access to the premises, so have been on the premises…’ ” (11/16).

Additional coverage of the cases among WHO staff is available from Forbes, The Hill, and Reuters.

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AFP: Coronavirus crippling fight against other pandemic: TB (Galey, 11/16).

AP: Public health programs see surge in students amid pandemic (Smith/Young, 11/17).

Borgen Magazine: Nootkatone: A New Weapon to Fight Insect-Borne Diseases (Jaffee, 11/16).

Devex: Witchcraft accusations and cataracts: The effects of open-fire cooking in Tanzania (Chakamba, 11/17).

The Guardian: How war threatens Ethiopia’s struggle against worst locust swarm in 25 years (Gardner, 11/6).

The Hill: South Korea to impose more social distancing rules in Seoul area amid new coronavirus outbreak (Coleman, 11/16).

New Humanitarian: One storm after another: Southeast Asia’s typhoon barrage (Loy, 11/16).

New York Times: Women and Leadership: Looking Beyond the Global Health Crisis (Multiple authors, 11/17).

New York Times: The Deadliness of the 2014 Ebola Outbreak Was Not Inevitable (Johnson, 11/17).

Reuters: Teenage pregnancies rise in parts of Kenya as lockdown shuts schools (Mersie, 11/16).

VOA News: New App Identifies Mosquitoes by Buzzing Sound (Jones, 11/16).

Washington Post: Transcript: The Path Forward: Combating COVID-19 (Ignatius, 11/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Global Health Topics, Including Study Results On HIV Prevention; Role Of Evaluation In Achieving SDGs; FGM In India

The Conversation: Large Africa study makes important breakthrough in HIV prevention
Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, associate professor and director of research at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute I at the University of the Witwatersrand (11/15).

Devex: Opinion: Why evaluation is key to rebuilding better and achieving the 2030 Agenda
Anthony Akoto Osei, cabinet minister for monitoring and evaluation, member of the economic management team, and member of parliament for the Old Tafo constituency in the Ashanti region of Ghana; Oscar A. Garcia, director of the Independent Evaluation Office of the United Nations Development Programme; and Alison Evans, director general of evaluation at the World Bank Group (11/16).

IPS: In India, Ending FGM Demands Truth and Transparency
Masooma Ranalvi, founder of WeSpeakOut and 2020 Aspen Institute New Voices fellow (11/13).

Ms. Magazine: Trump Administration Attempts to “Tie Biden’s Hands” and Obstruct His Women’s Rights Agenda
Carrie N. Baker, professor in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College and author, and Katie Fleischer, student at Smith College (11/12).

STAT: We can’t eliminate hepatitis C without removing barriers to treatment
Nick Voyles, member of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable Advisory Committee, program manager at the Indiana Recovery Alliance, and member of the Urban Survivors Union (11/14).

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Opinion Pieces Address Topics Related To COVID-19, Including Managing TB, COVID-19 Syndemic In India; Pandemic's Inequalities; Global Economy; Transparency In COVID-19 Policies

BMJ Global Health: India’s syndemic of tuberculosis and COVID-19
Rukmini Shrinivasan, independent data journalist; Saurabh Rane, XDR-TB survivor and activist with Survivors Against Tuberculosis; and Madhukar Pai, Canada research chair in translational epidemiology & global health, and associate director of McGill International TB Centre at McGill University (11/16).

IPS: COVID-19 Compounding Inequalities
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former economics professor and former U.N. assistant-secretary general for Economic Development, and Anis Chowdhury, adjunct professor at Western Sydney University & University of New South Wales in Australia (11/17).

Project Syndicate: Vaccine Apartheid
Jayati Ghosh, executive secretary of International Development Economics Associates and member of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (11/16).

Project Syndicate: A No-Brainer for the G20
Jim O’Neill, chair of Chatham House (11/16).

WIRED: A Lack of Transparency Is Undermining Pandemic Policy
Roxanne Khamsi, Ideas Contributor on WIRED (11/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Release Address Topics Related To COVID-19, Including U.S. Response Amid Transition; Intellectual Property Rights; Gender Inequality In Wake Of Pandemic; Benefits Of Basic Income, UHC Policies

AVAC: Efficacy News from Second COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Underscores Need for Transparency and Cooperation between Outgoing and Incoming U.S. Administrations (11/16).

Human Rights Watch: Waiving Intellectual Property Rules Key to Beating Covid-19
Aruna Kashyap, senior counsel for the Business and Human Rights Division at HRW, and Margaret Wurth, senior researcher for the Children’s Rights Division at HRW (11/16).

Open Society Foundations: After the Pandemic, Rebuild for Gender Justice
Ginette Azcona, lead data and statistics researcher for global reports at U.N. Women, and Antra Bhatt, statistics specialist at U.N. Women (11/16).

World Economic Forum: We need these two policies to drive our recovery from COVID-19
Mandeep Dhaliwal, director of the HIV, Health and Development Group at the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) (11/17).

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PASTEUR Act Introduced In U.S. Senate Aiming To Reinvigorate Innovation For Development Of New Antibiotics

Pew Charitable Trust: New Bill Aims to Jump-Start Development of Urgently Needed Antibiotics
Wes Kim, senior officer for the Antibiotic Resistance Project, discusses the Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Up Surging Resistance Act of 2020, also known as the PASTEUR Act, which was introduced in the Senate at the end of September and “aims to jump-start the development of urgently needed new antibiotics, specifically those that can address unmet patient needs, by changing the way the U.S. government pays for them.” Kim notes, “Passage of the PASTEUR Act would be a major step toward reinvigorating innovation in development of urgently needed new antibiotics. The legislation offers policymakers a clear path to ensure that the U.S. has access to effective antibiotics, and Pew urges Congress to pass it as soon as possible” (11/11).

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Blog Posts, Releases Address Various Global Health Topics, Including NTDs; Women's Reproductive Rights In Peru; Lessons From Ebola; TB Reports; SDGs; U.N. Food Systems Summit Preparations

Global Citizen: How Pharmaceutical Companies Have Helped Tackle Neglected Tropical Diseases Around the World
Sarah El Gharib, freelance writer and French editor at Global Citizen (11/13).

Global Voices: The victims of forced sterilizations in Peru continue to demand justice
Adriana Hildenbrand, Miryam Rivera Holguin, and Teodora C. Hasegan, all of Global Voices (11/13).

Pulitzer Center: Behind the Story: Emily Baumgaertner on Lessons Learned from West Africa Ebola Fight
Ethan Ehrenhaft, general intern at the Pulitzer Center, and Emily Baumgaertner, grantee and Pulitzer Center alumni (11/16).

Stop TB Partnership/Médecins Sans Frontières : Step Up for TB 2020 – A survey of prevention, testing, and treatment policies and practices (November 2020).

Treatment Action Group: 2020 Pipeline Report (November 2020).

World Bank Blogs: The 2020 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals: Stories and insights through innovative visuals
Haishan Fu, director of the Development Economics Data Group at the World Bank Group, and colleagues (11/16).

World Economic Forum: Everything you need to know about Bold Actions for Food as a Force for Good
Sean de Cleene, member of the Executive Committee and head of the Future of Food at the World Economic Forum (11/17).

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WHO Publishes Estimates Of Global Burden Of Cervical Cancer Associated With HIV Infection

WHO: WHO releases new estimates of the global burden of cervical cancer associated with HIV
“Today as WHO launches the Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, the first estimates of the contribution of HIV to the global cervical cancer burden are also being released. Women living with HIV have a six-fold increased risk of cervical cancer when compared to women without HIV. This higher risk is manifested throughout the lifecycle starting with an increased risk of acquiring human papilloma virus infection (HPV), more rapid progression to cancer, lower chances of regression of pre-cancer lesions, higher rates of recurrence following treatment…” (11/16).

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From KFF

KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of November 17, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (11/17).

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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