KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Number Of COVID-19 Cases Pass 50M Worldwide, With U.S., India, Brazil Accounting For Nearly Half Of Global Total; WHO DG Calls For Solidarity, Assessment To End Pandemic

NPR: COVID-19 Cases Top 50 Million Globally, U.S. Nears 10 Million
“More than 50 million COVID-19 cases have been recorded around the world as of Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The U.S., India, and Brazil are three countries with the most cases and account for nearly half of the world count. The U.S. alone is poised to hit 10 million cases as cases and hospitalizations continue to climb…” (Davis, 11/8).

U.N. News: World can save lives and ‘end this pandemic, together’ — WHO chief
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues evolving, the world must ‘take all opportunities to learn and improve the response as we go,’ the U.N. health agency chief said on Friday. ‘Many countries heard our call back in January when we rang our highest alarm by calling a public health emergency of international concern,’ Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) told a regular press briefing in Geneva. Since then, he explained that they have been working closely with the U.N. agency, following parameters set out in its strategic response plan, outlined on 4 February…” (11/6).

Xinhua: Senior WHO officials call for global efforts in fighting against COVID-19 pandemic
“Senior World Health Organization (WHO) officials called for global efforts in fighting against COVID-19 pandemic as many countries and regions had already seen a second wave of the pandemic and a soaring number of new infections over the past months…” (11/7).

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UNICEF, WHO Call For Urgent Action To Prevent Polio, Measles Epidemics, Resume Immunizations Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

U.N. News: ‘Emergency action’ needed to prevent major polio, measles epidemics
“Globally, millions of children are at a heightened risk of polio and measles — dangerous but preventable diseases — amid disruptions to vital immunization programs due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) have said. According to the two U.N. agencies, immunization rates in some countries have fallen by as much as 50 percent, with people unable to access health services because of lockdown and transport disruptions, or unwillingness due to fear of contracting COVID-19…” (11/6).

Additional coverage of the U.N. agencies’ call for emergency action is available from Becker’s Hospital Review, The Guardian, and VOA News.

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U.K. Politicians, WTO Delegations From South Africa, India Call For Changes To IP Rules To Improve Equitable Access To COVID-19 Treatments, Vaccines

Devex: COVID-19 vaccine access: U.K. politicians call for IP waiver
“Politicians in the United Kingdom are calling on the government to demand changes to intellectual property rules to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments around the world. … [T]o ensure equality of access for such treatments, [Wendy Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat chief whip,] said, ‘One important step the U.K. government could take is working through international institutions to help encourage reform of the patent system given the exceptional circumstances of this pandemic.’ She highlighted World Trade Organization rules that allow governments to override monopolies for public health purposes, as already done by Germany, Australia, and Canada. The U.K. should also engage with South African and Indian proposals for intellectual property monopolies to be waived on COVID-19 products, Chamberlain added. … Her sentiments were echoed by Sarah Champion, chair of the International Development Committee, a group of politicians that scrutinizes U.K. development policy…” (Worley, 11/6).

PRI: Could lifting patents speed up access to life-saving COVID-19 drugs?
“Mustaqeem De Gama brought a proposal sponsored by South Africa and India to the World Trade Organization last month that he thinks will speed up access to life-saving, COVID-19 drugs. De Gama, a South African representative to the WTO, wants the body to waive all patents and intellectual property rights for drugs, technologies and vaccines developed to fight the coronavirus for the duration of the pandemic. It would temporarily alter the system, overseen by the WTO, that governs how drug discoveries and scientific knowledge are controlled and shared worldwide. This hasn’t been done before — but the world can’t afford to maintain the status quo right now, De Gama said…” (Gordon, 11/6).

Additional coverage of various aspects of coronavirus vaccine and therapeutics research, as well as patient treatment, is available from Al Jazeera, The Guardian, Health Policy Watch, New York Times, STAT, and Wall Street Journal.

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President-Elect Joe Biden Announces COVID-19 Plan, Task Force; Media Outlets Discuss Possible Global Health-, Foreign Policy-Related Policy Changes Under Biden-Harris Administration

CNN: How Biden plans to change the US pandemic response
“President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris say they will move the U.S. Covid-19 pandemic response in a dramatically different direction. ‘The pandemic is getting significantly more worrisome all across the country,’ Biden said on Friday. ‘I want everyone to know on day one, we’re going to put our plan to control this virus into action.’ … While President Donald Trump’s administration touted the end of the pandemic as one of its accomplishments, Biden has laid out a pandemic plan on his campaign website and it’s now echoed on the Biden-Harris transition website published Sunday…” (Christensen, 11/9).

Devex: Biden victory will mark a return to ‘normality,’ development experts say
“After four tumultuous years that saw repeated battles over foreign aid funding and priorities, many in the development community welcomed what they see as a return to normalcy with the election of Joe Biden as the next U.S. president. … The administration of President Donald Trump repeatedly recommended cutting the foreign aid budget by about 30% each year. And while significant additional funding may not be likely amid many competing priorities, major cuts will not be proposed, experts told Devex. … Development experts are pushing for Biden to elevate the role of foreign aid, including by making the USAID administrator a member of the White House National Security Council’s Principals Committee — something that has not been done before, though the administrator has attended on an as-needed basis…” (Saldinger, 11/7).

Devex: 5 Trump-era global health policies a Biden administration might undo
“When Joe Biden takes over the White House in January, global health is one area where he will likely take a very different approach from his predecessor. As president, Donald Trump has made a number of controversial policy decisions related to global health, including severing ties with the World Health Organization, expanding the so-called ‘global gag rule,’ and defunding United Nations agencies. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have said they will ‘immediately restore’ the U.S. government’s relationship with WHO as part of a seven-point plan to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. Health advocates hope they will reverse a range of other Trump administration decisions too. Here are five global health policies where a Biden administration might look to reverse the course of the last four years — and how they might go about it…” (Ravelo, 11/9).

NPR: Biden Said He’d Walk Back Trump’s WHO Walkout. Can All The Damage Be Undone?
“Back in July, President Trump’s administration began the formal process of withdrawing the U.S. — and its critical funding — from the World Health Organization. … As a candidate, Biden vowed to reverse the decision on his first day in office. Global health experts are counting on President-elect Joe Biden to restore and reimagine the U.S. relationship with the world’s leading public health agency. … But a reset does not mean a return to the way things were. And experts warn it will take time and effort to restore the U.S. to a leadership position in global health. Here are five key questions about the potential damage done by Trump’s move — and what the future could hold…” (Godoy, 11/9).

POLITICO: Joe Biden will inherit a raging pandemic. Here’s what he plans to do next.
“…[Biden’s pandemic strategy] would toss out the Trump administration’s patchwork response that put the burden on states and install a top-down national framework for testing, contact tracing, and targeted business closures. Biden’s also promised a national mask mandate, calling it ‘a patriotic duty.’ And public health experts rather than politicians will update the public once Biden is sworn in — meaning sober assessments and realistic timelines will replace Trump’s declarations that the pandemic is all but over and the virus will ‘disappear’ with or without a vaccine…” (Ollstein/Goldberg, 11/7).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Biden win seen as green light for women’s reproductive rights
“Democrat Joe Biden as U.S. president will bring sweeping changes to women’s reproductive rights globally… Biden, who captured the U.S. presidency on Saturday, has indicated his support for reversing … the Mexico City policy, that President Donald Trump imposed on his fourth day in office in January 2017. Other anticipated moves under Biden could be to repeal the 47-year-old Helms Amendment, that bans U.S. foreign aid from paying for abortions, and restoration of U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), campaigners said…” (Wulfhorst, 11/7).

USA TODAY: Biden’s approach to tackling COVID-19 will be dramatically different, and quickly apparent
“The day President Donald Trump turns the White House over to Joe Biden, COVID-19 will remain just as big a threat to Americans. But the strategy for tackling it will change dramatically. Public health experts expect a major reset, including a renewed emphasis on science, better communication, and efforts to simultaneously boost the economy and public health rather than pitting the two against each other. The shift is expected to be swift once Biden takes office…” (Weintraub/Weise, 11/8).

Washington Post: President-elect Biden announces coronavirus task force made up of physicians and health experts
“…Biden’s [COVID-19] task force will have three co-chairs: Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general during the Obama administration; David Kessler, Food and Drug Administration commissioner under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine. Murthy and Kessler have briefed Biden for months on the pandemic. … The 13-member task force also includes former Trump administration officials, including Rick Bright, former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who, after being demoted, spoke out against the administration’s approach to the pandemic. Luciana Borio, director for medical and biodefense preparedness on Trump’s National Security Council until 2019, is also on the panel. The group includes several other prominent doctors…” (Abutaleb et al., 11/9).

Additional coverage of Biden’s plans to address the COVID-19 pandemic, other global health and science issues, and foreign policy is available from ABC News, AP, ABC’s RN Breakfast, Axios, CNN, Financial Times, Forbes, The Hill (2), Nature, POLITICO (2), STAT, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

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Experts Warn Trump Administration Must Take Action To Address Worsening COVID-19 Pandemic; At Least 6 White House Staffers Test Positive, Including Chief Of Staff

The Hill: Experts warn of worsening pandemic unless Trump takes action
“Health experts are warning that the current surge in coronavirus cases will get far worse unless the Trump administration takes aggressive action in the next few months. Significant time and money will need to be invested to ensure states are ready to widely distribute a vaccine as soon as one becomes available, and to build trust back into a public health system that’s been scarred by politicization…” (Weixel, 11/8).

White House: White House hit with fresh outbreak of coronavirus cases
“The White House has been hit with a fresh wave of coronavirus infections, an administration official said Saturday, with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and five other Trump aides having received positive test results in the period around Election Day…” (Gearan et al., 11/7).

Additional coverage of experts’ comments on the Trump administration’s coronavirus response and the outbreak in the White House is available from CNBC and New York Times.

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Trump Administration Fires USAID Deputy Administrator To Allow Acting Administrator John Barsa To Continue To Lead Agency

Devex: Update: White House fires USAID deputy to keep Barsa at helm
“The White House has fired the U.S. Agency for International Development’s deputy administrator, Bonnie Glick, in an apparent move to allow the current acting administrator, John Barsa, to retain leadership of the agency. The firing comes as Barsa was warned that he was reaching the end of a 210-day legal limit on his appointment as acting administrator, which had appeared to pave the way for Glick, a Republican political appointee, to take over the agency…” (Igoe, 11/6).

The Hill: USAID deputy leader ousted in staff shakeup amid vote counting
“…Barsa, who was confirmed by the Senate as administrator for USAID’s Latin America and Caribbean bureau, assumed the acting administrator position in April following the departure in March of USAID administrator Mark Green. Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Barsa’s term was expected to end as of midnight on November 6, approximately 210 days from the time the administrator’s position became vacant. Glick, as deputy administrator, was expected to assume leadership of USAID with Barsa’s termination. Yet the Friday night shake-up removed Glick as deputy administrator and inserted Barsa into the acting deputy role, and likely to allow him to lead the agency for an additional 210 days…” (Kelly, 11/6).

Additional coverage of USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick’s termination is available from the New York Times and CNN. A press release from USAID on Glick’s departure can be found here.

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U.S. Urges WHO To Invite Taiwan To WHA

The Hill: U.S. asks WHO to invite Taiwan to health assembly next week
“The U.S. has asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to invite Taiwan to its World Health Assembly (WHA) next week, the Associated Press reports. The U.S. cited Taiwan’s ‘resounding success’ in fighting COVID-19 in its appeal to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, AP notes. The WHA, the decision-making body that oversees the WHO, is expected to hold a virtual meeting from Nov. 9-14. China has objected to Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHA since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was elected, AP notes. Ing-wen has been pro-independence, which has angered Beijing. The U.S., however, has pushed for Taiwan’s inclusion as part of its efforts to counteract China’s influence at the WHO, which President Trump has called ‘China-centric.’ The U.S. has already made plans to withdraw from the global health body…” (Williams, 11/6).

Coverage of the implications of a Biden administration for the U.S.-Taiwan relationship is available from Al Jazeera.

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U.N. Aid Agencies Warn Of Food Insecurity 'Hotspots'

U.N. News: Aid agencies call for urgent action to prevent famine in hunger hotspots
“People in four food insecurity ‘hotspots’ inside Burkina Faso, northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen need help urgently to avoid sliding into famine, U.N. humanitarians said on Friday. … In a joint alert with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), WFP also warned that 16 other countries also face a ‘major (food) emergency — or series of emergencies’ in the next three to six months. The drivers of these humanitarian crises include long-running conflict and a lack of humanitarian access to communities in need; climate extremes and the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, they said in a new report on food insecurity hotspots…” (11/6).

Additional coverage on the U.N. aid agencies’ warning is available from Devex and VOA.

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Long-Acting Injectable Experimental Antiretroviral Effective In Preventing HIV Among Women, Study Shows

Devex: Cabotegravir also works for women, HIV prevention study reveals
“An investigational injectable drug is found to be effective in preventing HIV among women, according to an interim analysis of a study published Monday, providing new options on HIV prevention for women and girls… Study HPTN 084, led by the HIV Prevention Trials Network, found cabotegravir, a long-acting injectable developed by ViiV Healthcare, was 89% more effective than the standard oral preexposure prophylaxis tenofovir/emtricitabine combination pills widely used for HIV prevention…” (Ravelo, 11/9).

New York Times: Shot to Prevent HIV Works Better Than Daily Pill in Women
“…The finding that the long-acting drug would prevent HIV in six doses taken over a year instead of the 365 required for the prevention pill currently on the market was so convincing the researchers decided to end their clinical trial of the drug early. … Women have had only one approved option for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a course of drugs taken to prevent contracting HIV: the daily pill Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences. (A second pill also made by Gilead, called Descovy, was approved in October 2019, but only for men and transgender women.) Many women struggled to take the pill regularly, undercutting its usefulness. Not having to take a daily pill would afford them freedom from having to hide or negotiate their medication use with their sexual partners, experts said…” (Mandavilli, 11/9).

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Coronavirus Discovered In Mink Populations In 6 Countries, WHO Reports, Prompting Scientific Concern Over Viral Mutations

Fox News: WHO reports coronavirus discovered among mink populations in 6 countries
“Six countries have reported coronavirus cases among farmed mink, the World Health Organization announced. Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the U.S. join Denmark in noting the presence of the virus among mink farm populations, the WHO said in a statement. The concern over mink population infections arises from the recent discovery of mutations in the virus among farmed mink in Denmark…” (Aitken, 11/8).

New York Times: Covid Infections in Animals Prompt Scientific Concern
“…The versions of the virus that have mutated in mink and spread to humans are not more transmissible or causing more severe illness in humans. But one of the variants, found in 12 people so far, was less responsive to antibodies in lab tests. Danish health authorities worried that the effectiveness of vaccines in development might be diminished for this variant, and decided to take all possible measures to stop its spread…” (Gorman, 11/8).

STAT: Spread of mutated coronavirus in Danish mink ‘hits all the scary buttons,’ but fears may be overblown
“…Inter-species jumps of viruses make scientists nervous — as do suggestions of potentially significant mutations that result from those jumps. In this case, Danish authorities say they’ve found some genetic changes that might undermine the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines currently in development. But is this latest twist in the Covid-19 saga reason to be deeply concerned? Several experts STAT consulted suggested the answer to that question is probably not…” (Branswell, 11/5).

Additional coverage of Denmark’s mink cull and concerns over human cases involving the mutated coronavirus is available from Health Policy Watch, Reuters (2), The Telegraph, and Xinhua.

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

Borgen Magazine: Lack of Resources in Yemen Due to COVID-19 and Violence (Padmaraj, 11/8).

Borgen Magazine: Destigmatize COVID-19 in Africa: From Nurses to Zindzi Mandela (Webb, 11/7).

Borgen Magazine: The Global Oxygen Shortage During COVID-19 (Weir, 11/9).

The Guardian: HIV: new diagnoses among gay and bisexual men at lowest level in 20 years (Campbell, 11/6).

The Guardian: Covid set to cause 400,000 surge in TB deaths as medics diverted (McKie, 11/8).

The Guardian: ‘Stand By Her’: China university students campaign to end period shaming (Yang, 11/8).

Health Policy Watch: Does Global Health Have A ‘Colonialism’ Problem? (Adepoju, 11/3).

Health Policy Watch: African Clinics On The Frontline Of The Fight Against Cervical Cancer (Cook, 11/5).

U.N. News: From the Field: millions at risk in Sahel, each one with a story to tell (11/8).

U.N. News: Myanmar’s farmers battle climate and health uncertainty (11/8).

Washington Post: Transcript: ‘Virus Hunters’ A Conversation with Christopher Golden, PhD and Kendra Phelps, PhD (11/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Opportunities, Challenges For Biden Administration As It Prepares To Address COVID-19 Pandemic

Foreign Policy: Biden Can Make the United States a Global Health Leader Again
Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh (11/7).

Washington Post: The U.S. must brake the runaway pandemic train
Editorial Board (11/8).

Washington Post: President-elect Biden needs to get to work on the covid-19 pandemic. Today.
Leana S. Wen, contributing columnist at the Washington Post, emergency physician, and visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (11/7).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss OECD's DAC High-Level Meeting On COVID-19; Role Of U.S. Leadership In Equitable Access To COVID-19 Vaccine; Concern Over Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescribing

Devex: Opinion: DAC leaders — do whatever it takes and show leadership in COVID-19 response
Nerea Craviotto, senior policy and advocacy officer, and Jan Van de Poel, policy and advocacy manager, both at the European Network on Debt and Development (11/6).

The Hill: U.S. needs to ensure developing countries access to COVID-19 vaccine
Daniel F. Runde, senior vice president, and William A. Schreyer, chair in global analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (11/6).

STAT: Inappropriately prescribed antibiotics will likely accompany the winter surge of Covid-19
Jowa (Zhuo) Shi, medical student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, and Ateev Mehrotra, associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (11/9).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Post, Releases Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Efforts To Identify Zoonotic Source Of Virus, Impacts On Gender, Health Equity

India Development Review: India: How Did Young People Access Care During the Lockdown?
Sucharita Iyer, member of Dasra’s Knowledge Creation and Dissemination team, Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, and Nitya Daryanani, member of Dasra’s Adolescents Collaborative team (11/5).

WHO: Colombia responds to COVID-19 with an intercultural health model (11/6).

WHO: How WHO is working to track down the animal reservoir of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (11/6).

World Bank Blogs: Gender repercussions of COVID-19
Sameera Al Tuwaijri, lead health specialist at the World Bank (11/6).

World Food Programme: From outbreak to action: How WFP responded to COVID-19 (10/31).

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E.U. Council, Member States Commit To Strengthening WHO, Its Capacity For Emergency Response Preparedness

Council of the European Union: Strengthening the World Health Organization: the E.U. is ready to take the leading role
“[On Friday], the [E.U.] Council and the representatives of the governments of the member states approved conclusions on the role of the E.U. in strengthening the World Health Organization (WHO). The conclusions acknowledge the central role of the WHO as the leading and coordinating authority in addressing global health challenges. At the same time, they recall that during many pandemics expectations on WHO have often outweighed its capacities and its ability to support its member states in developing strong and resilient health systems. The Council and the representatives of the governments of the member states express their commitment to take a coordinating, proactive, and leading role in an inclusive process to strengthen global health security and the WHO, in particular its capacity for preparedness and response in health emergencies…” (11/6).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Announces List Of 18 High-Priority Countries For U.S. WASH Assistance

USAID: USAID Re-Designates 18 High-Priority Countries Under the Water for the World Act
“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced its annual list of high-priority countries for assistance in safe water, sanitation, and hygiene and the launch of corresponding country plans for each. Aligned with the requirements in the Water for the World Act of 2014, these partner countries will be the primary focus of the U.S. Government’s investments to build a more water-secure world. … The plans outline how USAID will invest in each country over the next five years to improve water security, sanitation, and hygiene…” (11/6).

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From KFF

KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of November 9, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (11/9).

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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