KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Records More Than 100K COVID-19 Cases On Day After Election; News Outlets Examine Election Results' Implications For Science, Public Health

The Atlantic: A Dreadful New Peak for the American Pandemic
“The United States reported 103,087 cases of COVID-19 [on Wednesday], the highest single-day total on record, according to the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. It marks the first time that the country — or any country in the world, for that matter — has documented more than 100,000 new cases in one day. At the same time, states reported that more than 52,000 people are hospitalized with the coronavirus, the highest level since early August. The number of people hospitalized nationwide is increasing faster in November than it did in October, and — over the past 10 days — their ranks have risen by about 1,000 people a day…” (Meyer/Madrigal, 11/4).

CNN: The time is now to develop a testing strategy for asymptomatic Covid-19 cases, CDC director says
“As the U.S. recorded its five highest days of coronavirus cases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said this is the perfect time to develop a strategy to better detect asymptomatic cases. … By the CDC’s estimate, 40% of people with Covid-19 show no symptoms…” (Vera et al., 11/4).

Science: U.S. elections bring wins and losses for research community
“It’s not yet clear who will be the next U.S. president and which party will control the Senate. And although Democrats in the House of Representatives will remain in the majority in the next Congress, there was no blue wave. That last takeaway from [Tuesday’s] elections — with many votes still to be counted — is not good news for several candidates and incumbents with science backgrounds and those holding influential positions on the House science committee…” (Mervis/Malakoff, 11/4).

STAT: ‘Science was on the ballot’: How can public health recover from a rebuke at the polls?
“Even without a presidential winner, one thing is already certain: The 2020 election results were a disaster for public health. Results from Tuesday and early Wednesday underscore just how many Americans agree with a president who has called the nation’s top scientists ‘idiots,’ openly mocked mask-wearing, and has insisted states must be ‘liberated’ from lockdowns. No matter who wins the presidency, more than 67 million Americans already seem to have sided with Trump on public health. … That leaves public health officials to grapple with hard, existential questions: How can they forge new relationships with this huge swath of the country as the pandemic continues to unfold? Where does the public health field go from here?…” (Florko, 11/4).

Additional coverage of rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., as well as election results’ impacts on public health, is available from AP, CNN, Financial Times, The Hill, Reuters, and Washington Post.

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European Nations Implement Stricter Mitigation Measures Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases, Deaths

CIDRAP News: More states note record COVID-19; more restrictions in Europe
“…Europe, which is the world’s biggest hot spot region, saw surges continue, with new single-day high COVID-19 cases reported in several countries, including Poland, Austria, and Russia. And in Belgium, cases are starting to drop, but hospitalizations and deaths — which usually lag cases — continue to rise, the Brussels Times reported…” (Schnirring, 11/4).

CNN: England locks back down, Italy puts regions on red alert as Covid-19 deaths spike 43% in Europe
“England has re-entered a national lockdown, following other European nations which have taken drastic steps to counter a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths across the continent. The restrictions, which took effect at midnight Thursday, will see restaurants, bars, and non-essential businesses close until December 2. England’s lockdown came days after similar measures were enacted in France and Germany, and ahead of a number of Italian regions becoming ‘red zones’ on Friday…” (Reynolds et al., 11/4).

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Australia Close To Eliminating Community Transmission Of Novel Coronavirus, Serves As Model For Other Nations

Washington Post: Australia has almost eliminated the coronavirus — by putting faith in science
“…Australia has become a pandemic success story. The nation of 26 million is close to eliminating community transmission of the coronavirus, having defeated a second wave just as infections surge again in Europe and the United States. No cases were reported on the island continent Thursday, and only seven since Saturday, besides travelers in hotel quarantine. … As North America, Europe, India, Brazil, and other regions and countries struggle to bring tens of thousands of daily infections under control, Australia provides a real-time road map for democracies to manage the pandemic. Its experience, along with New Zealand’s, also shows that success in containing the virus isn’t limited to East Asian states (Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan) or those with authoritarian leaders (China, Vietnam)…” (Patrick, 11/5).

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Media Outlets Report On Issues Related To Coronavirus Vaccine, Including Market Value; Discovery Of New Viral Strain; Use Of Chinese Vaccine In Bahrain; U.S. Military's Role In Vaccine Distribution

Bloomberg: Denmark Finds Covid Strain That Might Hamper Vaccine Effort (Buttler, 11/4).

Financial Times: Covid-19 vaccine market worth $10bn a year, analysts say (Kuchler, 11/5).

New York Times: Who Should Get a Covid-19 Vaccine First? (Tingley, 11/5).

Reuters: Exclusive: India-made COVID-19 vaccine could be launched as early as February — government scientist (Das, 11/5).

Reuters: Bahrain latest country to vaccinate frontline workers with COVID-19 shot (Barrington et al., 11/3).

Roll Call: Officials clarify military role in coronavirus vaccination amid wariness (Kopp, 11/5).

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AstraZeneca Expects Novel Coronavirus Vaccine Results 'Later This Year'; Chile, Peru To Allow Vaccine Trials To Proceed

Reuters: Chile, Peru green-light AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trials
“Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said on Wednesday the country’s health regulator had given the go-ahead for clinical trials of AstraZeneca PLC’s COVID-19 vaccine. … Also on Wednesday, Peru said Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca laboratories would begin trials of coronavirus vaccines in the country next week…” (Laing/Aquino, 11/4).

Wall Street Journal: AstraZeneca Expects Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Results This Year
“AstraZeneca said late-stage trials for the Covid-19 vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford are on track to produce results ‘later this year,’ with a potential rollout soon after, subject to regulatory approval. Timing of the much-anticipated results depends on community infection rates around the world, with around 23,000 volunteers now enrolled in clinical trials of the vaccine in the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, and South Africa, the British drugmaker said Thursday as it reported third-quarter earnings. The vaccine, called AZD1222, is a front-runner in the global race for a shot that will help curb infections and deaths from the virus — and get the global economy back on its feet — as the pandemic continues to spread in many parts of the world, including the U.S. and Europe…” (Strasburg, 11/5).

Additional coverage of the AstraZeneca/Oxford experimental vaccine is available from CNBC, Financial Times, and VOA News.

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New Study Shows Association Between Risk Of Death From COVID-19, Air Pollution Exposure

STAT: New research points to potential link between pollution levels and Covid-19 death risk
“New research points to another potential factor that might play into a person’s risk of death due to Covid-19: prolonged exposure to high levels of air pollution. In a study published Wednesday in Science Advances, researchers estimated long-term air pollution levels for more than 3,000 U.S. counties, which also had Covid-19 mortality data available through June 2020. While the study wasn’t designed to show whether pollution exposure directly affected a person’s risk of death due to Covid-19, it did demonstrate an association between increased pollution levels and higher Covid-19 death tolls…” (Runwal, 11/4).

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USAID Terminates $10M Direct Cash Assistance Program In Uganda Amidst Investigation

Devex: In Uganda, a government suspension results in a $10M loss for GiveDirectly
“In the midst of an investigation and indefinite suspension by a Ugandan government regulator, the U.S. Agency for International Development was forced to terminate a nearly $10 million direct cash assistance program run through GiveDirectly, the largest nonprofit providing cash transfers globally. The program, launched in August in partnership with the Ugandan government, was part of the national COVID-19 response, intended to support those who lost income as a result of the pandemic and who are at risk of food insecurity…” (Jerving, 11/5).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: Asia Today: India’s virus cases jump on New Delhi resurgence (11/5).

AP: In Spain, coronavirus puts the poor at the back of the line (Parra, 11/5).

AP: Coronavirus cause of Algeria president’s hospitalization (11/4).

AP: Asia Today: South Korea OKs single test for COVID-19 and flu (11/4).

Borgen Magazine: Learning from New Zealand Agency for International Development (Strelow, 11/5).

Borgen Magazine: Public Health in South Africa (Breier, 11/4).

Devex: Clues in the eyes can stop the misdiagnosis of cerebral malaria (Jerving, 11/5).

Devex: Exclusive: Development banks search for climate compromise ahead of landmark summit (Chadwick, 11/5).

DW: When diseases jump from animals to humans (11/4).

Financial Times: NHS returns to highest emergency level as Covid cases surge (Neville/Gross, 11/4).

Reuters: North Korea prohibits smoking in public spaces: state media (Cha, 11/4).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Garment workers on front line of Sri Lanka coronavirus outbreak (Aneez, 11/4).

U.N. News: Protecting citizens from COVID while granting refugee access, can be done: UNHCR (11/4).

U.N. News: South Sudan rape convictions reaffirm commitment to zero tolerance (11/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Impact Of U.S. Elections On Nation's COVID-19 Pandemic Response

Foreign Policy: America Has Elected Either Death or More Death
Laurie Garrett, former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (11/5).

Foreign Affairs: America’s Pandemic Response Hangs in the Balance
Angela Rasmussen, virologist on the faculty of the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health (11/4).

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Addressing NCDs, Tobacco Use Integral To COVID-19 Response, Achieving SDGs

Devex: Opinion: Tobacco — a slow-motion pandemic hindering achievement of the SDGs
Adriana Blanco Marquizo, head of the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“…Today, the conjunction of two pandemics — the long-simmering tobacco pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic — has created unprecedented challenges for public health and development. Tobacco is a common risk factor for the four main noncommunicable diseases — cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes. People with preexisting conditions, especially NCDs, as well as smokers, appear to be more vulnerable to serious illness and death from COVID-19. … There is hope, however, since we know how to tackle the scourge of tobacco, and we have a powerful tool to do just that — the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. … But the sole presence of the WHO FCTC on the development agenda is no guarantee of success. … Addressing NCDs, their risk factors, and tobacco use in particular must be an integral part of the immediate COVID-19 response and recovery as well as of part of building-back-better strategies to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. … The challenge before us is clear. The solution is available. Let us join forces to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental, and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke” (11/5).

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Global Coordinated Effort Critical To Addressing Food Insecurity

Foreign Affairs: The Pandemic Has Made Hunger Even More Urgent to Address
Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, and Sheila Fleischhacker, adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center

“…The enormous health and social costs of food insecurity make it one of the most pressing global health problems of the twenty-first century. … Policymakers around the world must act to prevent food insecurity from making the COVID-19 pandemic even more devastating than it already has been. … The focus should therefore be on sustainable, scalable, and equitable policies that reduce hunger and help those who the pandemic has most adversely affected. Efforts to redress food insecurity must not stigmatize the people who receive assistance. Rather, policymakers should promote equal access to food … To date, COVID-19 has killed more than a million people worldwide and helped produce a profound global hunger crisis. The world needs a dramatic, coordinated effort to address food insecurity. Without one, it will not likely achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Worse, it will witness death and disease on an unimaginable scale, especially among its poorest, who also experience the most hunger and diet-related disease. The good news is that hunger is preventable. But only if those who can act, do — together” (11/4).

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Africa's Polio Eradication Initiative Provides Platform For Achieving Continent's Broader Health Goals

The Conversation: How ending polio in Africa has had positive spinoffs for public health
Charles Shey Wiysonge, director of Cochrane South Africa at the South African Medical Research Council

“…The polio eradication program in Africa directly combated a severe debilitating disease. But it also provided a platform for broader health care services on the continent. Polio eradication created renewed demand for vaccination services and innovative ways to deliver health care services. … Africa’s health systems are much stronger because of the investments made. Countries were supported to make life-saving gains. These included increasing access to health care in the most remote places, strengthening routine vaccination systems, and ensuring strong disease surveillance. Polio’s legacy must be built on to achieve other major health goals” (11/3).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

FT Health Examines Benefits, Dangers Of Data During COVID-19 Pandemic, Features Interview With Epidemiologist David Heymann

FT Health: The dangers of data
The Financial Times’ monthly global health and finance newsletter highlights how “technology has proved valuable during the coronavirus pandemic in helping rapidly collect and analyze information for clinicians, drug developers, and policymakers alike. But it has also contributed to an ‘infodemic’ of distorted analysis, fueling misleading information and a politicization of prevention measures, from lockdowns to the wisdom of wearing face masks.” The newsletter also features an interview with epidemiology expert David Heymann and a roundup of global health-related news stories (Jack/Dodd, 11/4).

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Podcast Episodes Reflect On Origins Of Humanitarian Aid Sector, Creating A Robust Mental Health Policy In Africa

New Humanitarian/Center for Global Development’s “Rethinking Humanitarianism Podcast”: Humanitarianism: The making of…
Heba Aly, director of the New Humanitarian, and Jeremy Konyndyk, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, both hosts of the Rethinking Humanitarian Podcast, speak with Antonio Donini, research associate at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva; Catherine Bertini, World Food Prize Laureate and former head of the World Food Programme; and Jessica Alexander, former aid worker and editor of the New Humanitarian’s Rethinking Humanitarianism series, about the origins of the humanitarian aid sector (11/4).

SciDev.Net’s “Africa Science Focus”: The need to create a sound mental health policy
Selly Amutabi, host of the Africa Science Focus podcast, reflects “on how life issues like divorce take a toll on the mental health of the individual and the need for Africa to create a robust mental health policy” (11/4).

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Researcher At LSHTM Examines Poland's Recent Abortion Ruling

BMJ Opinion: Poland’s abortion ban: a crushing blow to reproductive rights
Maria Lewandowska, researcher in abortion provision at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, discusses Poland’s recent ruling that abortion on the grounds of fetal abnormality is unconstitutional and examines the potential impact of the ruling on women’s health and rights (11/4).

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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 389 of the ‘Global Fund Observer.’ The newsletter includes articles about the potential impact of COVID-19 on domestic health financing in Africa and health diplomacy, the fund’s upcoming Board meeting, and findings from the fund’s mid-term review of its 2017-2022 strategy (11/4).

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From KFF

KFF Updates Mexico City Policy Explainer

KFF: The Mexico City Policy: An Explainer
On January 23, 2017, President Donald Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy via presidential memorandum, renaming it “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.” This explainer provides an overview of the policy, including its history, changes over time, and current application. The update includes the most recent action on the policy — a proposed rule to extend the policy to contracts that was published in September. If finalized, the rule would greatly extend the reach of the policy beyond grants and cooperative agreements to also include contracts (11/4).

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KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of November 5, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (11/5).

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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