KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

New Results Show 95% Efficacy For Pfizer-BioNTech Coronavirus Vaccine, No Serious Side Effects; Developing Nations To Argue For Patent Suspensions Of Vaccines At WTO Meeting

New York Times: New Pfizer Results: Coronavirus Vaccine Is Safe and 95% Effective
“The drug maker Pfizer said on Wednesday that its coronavirus vaccine was 95 percent effective and had no serious side effects — the first set of complete results from a late-stage vaccine trial as Covid-19 cases skyrocket around the globe. The data showed that the vaccine prevented mild and severe forms of Covid-19, the company said. And it was 94 percent effective in older adults, who are more vulnerable to developing severe Covid-19 and who do not respond strongly to some types of vaccines…” (Thomas, 11/18).

STAT: Pfizer may be within days of filing emergency authorization request for Covid-19 vaccine
“Pfizer may be within days of filing for an emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine, having collected the safety data necessary to submit an application to the Food and Drug Administration, CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday. ‘We are very close to submitting for an emergency use authorization,’ Bourla said during the STAT Summit, which this year is a virtual event. Bourla sidestepped the question of whether Pfizer’s filing would be made this week…” (Branswell, 11/17).

Wall Street Journal: Developing Nations Push for Covid-19 Vaccines Without the Patents
“A group of developing countries, led by South Africa and India, say they will press at the World Trade Organization this week to free Covid-19 vaccines from patent protections so they can be more accessible and affordable for poor countries. The pandemic requires a temporary suspension of the world’s usual intellectual property system, the countries say they will argue at a WTO council meeting this Friday. If poorer countries aren’t given special access to the vaccines, which are expected to hit the market by the start of next year, the group of developing nations say they will argue, they will continue to be devastated by the coronavirus even as it is stopped in the West…” (Shah, 11/17).

Yahoo Finance U.K.: Head of Vaccine Alliance: Global access to COVID-19 vaccine ‘the only way to beat the pandemic’
“…When it comes to getting a COVID-19 vaccine however, it is vital that rich and poor countries have equal access to immunization, according to Seth Berkley, the chief executive of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. In The Economist’s ‘The World in 2021’ special report, Berkley says mass, rapid vaccination could mark the beginning of the end of the crisis…” (Petzinger, 11/17).

Additional coverage of coronavirus vaccine research and distribution is available from Al Jazeera, CNN, Financial Times, The Hill, New York Times (2) (3), POLITICO, Scientific American, and Washington Post (2).

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Biden's Coronavirus Advisory Board Warns Transition Delays Harm Pandemic Preparedness Planning; Health Associations Call On Trump To Share Information

POLITICO: Biden Covid advisers say transition delay hurts pandemic prep beyond vaccines
“The leaders of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board said Tuesday the Trump administration’s continued refusal to allow the transition to move forward is hurting their preparedness planning on multiple fronts, from addressing mask shortages to recommending targeted closures in hot spots and laying the groundwork to distribute prospective vaccines…” (Ollstein, 11/17).

The Hill: Leading hospital, doctor associations call on Trump to share COVID-19 information with Biden
“…The American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, and American Nurses Association wrote in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday that cooperation on the coronavirus response with Biden transition officials is crucial…” (Sullivan, 11/17).

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NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates Discuss COVID-19 Pandemic Response, Vaccines At STAT Summit

STAT: Fauci suggests he should have been ‘much more vocal’ about Covid-19 testing early in pandemic
“Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday he should have more aggressively pushed the federal government to flood communities where the coronavirus was starting to spread with testing early in the U.S. outbreak. ‘It never became a reality because we never really had enough tests to do the tests that you had to do,’ Fauci said Tuesday at the STAT Summit, referencing the testing that needed be conducted to confirm Covid-19 infections in people who were showing symptoms of the illness…” (Joseph, 11/17).

STAT: Bill Gates worries about a ‘dysfunctional’ approach to Covid-19 vaccine distribution
“Bill Gates fears a ‘dysfunctional’ approach to distributing Covid-19 vaccines, he said Tuesday, despite an inspiring effort by biopharmaceutical companies to produce promising candidates with high measures of protection. Developing apparently effective vaccines so quickly — especially exploiting a novel approach that uses mRNA to instruct cells to make viral proteins and trigger an immune response — has been ‘fantastic,’ Gates said in conversation with Rick Berke, STAT’s co-founder and executive editor, during the 2020 STAT Summit…” (Cooney, 11/17).

Additional coverage of STAT’s conversations with Fauci and Gates is available from Bloomberg Law and Boston Globe (2).

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FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization For First-Ever At-Home Coronavirus Test

POLITICO: FDA authorizes first at-home coronavirus test
“The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first prescription at-home coronavirus test, in a long-awaited milestone. The test, developed by Lucira Health, can be used by people who are at least 14 years old when their health provider suspects they have Covid-19, the FDA said late Tuesday. The test can be used on younger people, but in that case a health care provider must collect the sample…” (Lim, 11/17).

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Trump Administration Plans To Designate Houthis As Terrorists Will Disrupt International Aid Efforts In Yemen, Agencies Warn

Foreign Policy: Trump Administration Plans to Designate Yemen’s Houthis as Terrorists
“The Trump administration is preparing to designate Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi insurgents a terrorist organization before leaving office in January, fueling fears the move will disrupt international aid efforts and upend United Nations-brokered peace efforts between the Shiite movement and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, according to several diplomatic sources. The U.N. and international relief agencies have tried to dissuade the Trump administration from designating the Houthis a foreign terrorist organization, but the apparently imminent decision would give U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo another victory in his anti-Iran strategy as he visits Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates this week…” (Lynch et al., 11/16).

Al Jazeera discusses an Oxfam report showing G20 nations have sold $17 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since it intervened in Yemen in 2015, three times the amount of humanitarian aid provided to the war-torn nation.

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U.N. Releases $100M In Emergency Funding To Prevent Famine In 7 Countries

U.N. News: U.N. releases $100 million to guard against famine
“The United Nations released $100 million of emergency funding on Tuesday to stave off the risk of famine in seven countries most at risk from a hunger epidemic fueled by conflict, economic decline, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark Lowcock, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said $80 million would be split between Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen, which would get the biggest tranche of $30 million. A further $20 million had been set aside for Ethiopia, where droughts could worsen an already fragile situation…” (11/17).

VOA News: U.N. Releases $100M in Bid to Prevent Famine in 7 Countries
“…Before the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, bringing socio-economic shocks with it, there were already 135 million people facing serious food insecurity in 55 countries, according to U.N. data. Those numbers have grown this year … Of the six countries, all are dealing with conflict, climate shocks, and displacement crises. Ethiopia has also experienced below-average rainfall this year and a massive locust infestation, and in recent weeks has added the threat of civil conflict as tensions explode in the northern Tigray province…” (Besheer, 11/17).

Additional coverage is available from The Telegraph.

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U.N. Launches New Sanitation And Hygiene Fund Aiming To Raise $2B Over 5 Years For Global WASH Issues; WaterAid-Commissioned Report Examines Climate Funding

U.N. News: U.N.-backed fund to address crisis in global sanitation and hygiene
“A U.N.-backed fund, launched on Tuesday, is set to take on the centuries-old crisis centered around sanitation, hygiene, and menstrual health, which now impacts more than four billion people across the world. Speaking via a video message at the launch of the Fund, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed described safe sanitation and hygiene as ‘critical to the response that we want to see, first, because it is about human dignity; second, it is a health issue.’ … The Sanitation and Hygiene Fund is hosted by the U.N. Office for Project Services (UNOPS), a specialized U.N. entity providing service, technical advice, and implementing projects for the Organization and partners globally. … It aims to raise $2 billion over the next five years to support the efforts…” (11/17).

Devex highlights a WaterAid-commissioned report by the Overseas Development Institute showing much climate investment goes to middle-income countries despite lower-income nations being more vulnerable.

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Devex Examines Whether Climate Finance Being Redirected From Existing Development Assistance Budgets; IFRC Warns Climate Change Poses Enormous Global Threat

Devex: Is climate finance diverting from development assistance?
“…Due to a lag in reporting, it will take another two years to know for sure whether high-income countries have met their commitment to provide $100 billion of climate finance to lower-income countries per year by 2020. Even if they officially reach the $100 billion mark, however, there will continue to be questions about whether that funding truly reflects the spirit of a global climate change agreement built on trust and solidarity. In particular, some climate finance experts are concerned that governments’ efforts to boost international funding for climate change may not actually reflect new resources. A significant amount of this funding, they worry, has likely been redirected from development assistance budgets and relabeled as climate finance…” (Igoe, 11/17).

Al Jazeera reports on an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies report warning climate change poses a bigger global threat than the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Countries Slow To Implement Newer Recommended TB Testing, Treatment Policies, Slowing Efforts To Reach 2022 Targets

Devex: TB policies aren’t working. Here’s why.
“Tuberculosis has long suffered from limited tools for testing and treatment, but a new report finds that it also faces policy disparities between what is recommended globally and what is rolled out in countries. … The Stop TB Partnership and Médecins Sans Frontières have found that a slow uptake of internationally recommended policies contributes to holding back progress against these targets. In their ‘Step Up for TB 2020‘ report, they found many countries are still using outdated testing policies…” (Ravelo, 11/18).

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DRC Declares End Of Most Recent Ebola Outbreak In West Of Country

Reuters: Congo declares end of Ebola outbreak, sees lessons for COVID fight
“Democratic Republic of Congo announced the end of an almost six-month Ebola outbreak in the west of the country on Wednesday as health authorities looked to apply lessons from the successful response to the fight against COVID-19 in Africa. The outbreak, which infected 130 people and killed 55, emerged in June, weeks before a separate Ebola epidemic in the east drew to a close. That one killed more than 2,200 people, the second-most in the disease’s history…” (Holland/Mahamba, 11/18).

Additional coverage of the declaration is available from Al Jazeera, AP, and Xinhua.

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Conflict In Ethiopia's Tigray Region Causing Humanitarian Crisis, U.N. Says

New York Times: As Fighting Rages in Ethiopia, Aid Groups Plead for Access to Refugees
“Even before fighting started in November between the Ethiopian government and powerful military forces in the country’s northern region of Tigray, the area was home to as many as 200,000 refugees and displaced people, according to United Nations agencies. Now, with airstrikes increasing and the conflict intensifying, international aid groups say that tens of thousands more people are fleeing. But the organizations say that they have been prevented from helping…” (Marks et al., 11/17).

U.N. News: ‘Full scale’ humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ethiopia’s Tigray: UNHCR
“A ‘full-scale humanitarian crisis’ is unfolding as thousands of refugees flee ongoing fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region each day to seek safety in eastern Sudan, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) reported on Tuesday. … The scale of the influx is the worst that part of the country has seen in over 20 years, according to the agency. … U.N. agencies, along with relief partners have ramped up assistance — delivering food rations, hot meals, and clean water, as well as setting up latrines and temporary shelters. They are also supporting the Sudanese Government in its response. But the needs continue to grow. The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) is also supporting other humanitarian workers in its response, providing fuel for vehicles and generators in remote locations…” (11/17).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: Official warns of humanitarian disaster if Afghan talks fail (Faiez, 11/18).

Borgen Magazine: New Way of Working: Combining Humanitarian and Development Efforts (Bassi, 11/17).

The Guardian: Researchers confirm human-to-human transmission of rare virus in Bolivia (Glenza, 11/16).

NPR: In ‘Fevers, Feuds And Diamonds,’ Paul Farmer Breaks Down Assumptions About Ebola (King, 11/17).

U.N. News: New partnership to boost maternal and newborn health in East and Southern Africa (11/17).

Washington Post: Has Sweden’s coronavirus strategy failed? (Tharoor, 11/18).

Xinhua: WHO representative urges Angola to strengthen investment in health sector (11/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Address Various Global Health Topics, Including HIV Treatment; Racial Equality In Development; NTDs; Antibiotic R&D; Development Finance

The Conversation: Millions of people are on treatment for HIV: why are so many still dying?
Gilles van Cutsem, honorary research associate with the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research at the University of Cape Town (11/17).

Devex: Opinion: Demonstrating leadership for racial equality in development
Victoria Cooper, senior vice president of Chemonics’ East and Southern Africa regional business unit (11/17).

IPS: Our Development Priorities Have Shifted to the Immediate Task of Saving Lives & Livelihoods
Hugh Hilton Todd, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the Co-operative Republic of Guyana (11/17).

Nature: What if tropical diseases had as much attention as COVID?
Francine Ntoumi, head of the Congolese Foundation for Medical Research and senior lecturer at the University Marien Ngouabi and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen (11/17).

Project Syndicate: A Pandemic We Can Prevent
Thomas Cueni, director general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations, chair of the AMR Industry Alliance, and founder of the AMR Action Fund (11/17).

Project Syndicate: The Global South’s Pandemic Path to Self-Reliance
Syed Munir Khasru, chair of the Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance (IPAG) (11/17).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Issues Related To COVID-19 Vaccine Development, Distribution, Public Confidence, Access

The Conversation: Buying and distributing a COVID-19 vaccine will involve hard ethical and practical choices
Barbara Allen, senior lecturer in public management, and Michael Macaulay, professor of public administration, both at Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington (11/17).

The Conversation: Virus evolution could undermine a COVID-19 vaccine — but this can be stopped
Andrew Read, Evan Pugh University professor of biology and entomology, Eberly professor of biotechnology, and director at the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State; and David Kennedy, assistant professor of biology at Penn State (11/17).

Foreign Policy: The World’s Wild and Crazy Vaccine Ride Is Just Starting
Laurie Garrett, former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (11/17).

The Hill: Rebuilding public trust will instill COVID-19 vaccine confidence
Lyndon Haviland, distinguished scholar at the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy (11/17).

The Hill: Put the science into COVID communications
R. Craig Lefebvre, lead change designer at the Center for Communication Science at RTI International and author, and Glen Nowak, professor and director of the Grady College Center for Health & Risk Communication at the University of Georgia (11/17).

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Vaccine innovation spurred by the long wait for an Ebola virus vaccine
Hugues Fausther-Bovendo, research associate, and Gary Kobinger, researcher, both at Centre de Recherche en Infectiologie de l’Université Laval (11/17).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Opinion: Only a generic, not-for-profit COVID-19 vaccine can protect the world’s poorest
Shaz Memon, founder of Wells on Wheels (11/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Biden Administration, Incoming Congress Should Revoke Mexico City Policy, Pass Legislation To Permanently Repeal Rule, HRW Advocacy Officer Says

Human Rights Watch: Trump Administration Moves to Entrench Global Gag Rule
Elisa Epstein, Washington advocacy officer at HRW, discusses the Trump administration’s efforts to expand the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, and notes, “Biden should immediately issue an executive order when he takes office to revoke the global gag rule. He should also work with Congress to pass legislation to permanently repeal the global gag rule in all its forms. The Biden administration and Members of Congress should make clear through words and actions that sexual and reproductive rights are human rights and a key priority for the U.S.” (11/17).

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Friends Of The Global Fight Highlights Key Takeaways From Global Fund's 44th Board Meeting

Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Key Takeaways from the Global Fund’s 44th Board Meeting
Lanice Williams, advocacy and partnerships manager at Friends of the Global Fight, discusses key takeaways from the Global Fund’s 44th board meeting, including the Global Fund’s efforts to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on AIDS, TB, and malaria efforts; the fund’s multi-year strategy development; an Office of the Inspector General progress report; and preparations for the fund’s 7th replenishment (11/17).

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Brookings Releases Collection Of Essays On Building Global Economy Post-COVID; Blog Post Discusses Launch Of Platform Using Health Economics Research To Support Policymakers, Researchers In Addressing Pandemic

Brookings Institution: Reimagining the global economy: Building back better in a post-COVID-19 world
“In this collection of 12 essays, leading scholars affiliated with the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings present new ideas that are forward-looking, policy-focused, and that will guide policies and shape debates in a post-COVID-19 world…” (11/17).

Center for Global Development: A Platform to Support the Researchers and Decision-makers Generating and Using Health Economics Research to Tackle COVID-19
Y-Ling Chi, senior policy analyst at CGD, and colleagues discuss the launch of the C19economics.org platform to support policymakers and researchers who are working on health economics for COVID-19 globally, noting, “C19Economics.org was created to curate experiences, data, tools and analyses, facilitate the meeting of researchers and decision makers globally, and support health economists generate evidence for policy across settings (with a focus on LMICs) in a demand driven and scientifically robust fashion. The goal is to facilitate the sharing of experiences and provide analysts with access to a focused set of resources, a space to informally receive peer support and review each other’s work. In addition, the platform aims to provide decision makers and those who advise them with a space to link up with analysts, ask questions about research directly linking to their policy needs, and access summaries of relevant evidence” (11/18).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Deploys DART To Hurricane-Hit Areas In Central America, Allocates Additional $17M In Humanitarian Aid

USAID: USAID Deploys Disaster-Assistance Response Team in Response to Central America Hurricanes, Allocates $17 Million in Additional Humanitarian Aid
“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster-Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to back-to-back hurricanes in Central America, where Hurricane Iota made landfall yesterday as a powerful Category 4 storm just two weeks after Hurricane Eta hit the same region. … The United States, through USAID, was already providing assistance after Hurricane Eta made landfall, and is now allocating an additional $17 million in life-saving aid to help people affected by both hurricanes in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. This new funding includes up to $8.5 million in Honduras, $7 million in Guatemala, and $1.5 million in Nicaragua to provide emergency shelter, food, hygiene supplies, critical relief items, and protection for the most vulnerable people, many of whom are from indigenous and Afro-descendant communities…” (11/18).

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From KFF

KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of November 18, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (11/18).

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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