KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Official Signals Support For WHO Reforms At Organization's Executive Board Meeting, Despite Trump's Withdrawal

Bloomberg: Let the Detectives Do Their Work
“…France, Germany, and Chile have recently proposed strengthening the WHO’s rapid-response capabilities, enabling the United Nations body to dispatch researchers to countries as soon as new diseases appear. Numerous countries have voiced support for such reform, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Uruguay. At an executive board meeting of the WHO this week, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said the ideas France and Germany floated in their report echoed earlier calls for reform from his country, which has pledged to exit the WHO…” (Lauerman, 10/9).

Health Policy Watch: United States Appears To Walk Back on Threats To Withdraw from World Health Organization — Calls For Countries To Adopt ‘Roadmap for Reform’
“The United States appears to be walking back on threats to withdraw from the World Health Organization — just as U.S. President Donald Trump is reported to be recovering from a bout with COVID-19 in Washington, D.C. Speaking at the first formal meeting of WHO’s Executive Board governing body to be convened since May, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, Brett Giroir, said that the U.S. had developed a ‘roadmap for WHO reform’ together with other members of the Group of 7 industrialized nations, suggesting that the U.S. would be pushing for uptake of those measures within the global health organization — rather than pulling out altogether…” (Fletcher, 10/5).

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Devex Examines Whether World Bank COVID-19 Funding Reaching Marginalized Populations; IMF Says Africa Needs $1.2T For Recovery; Pandemic Impacting Mental Health In Malawi

BBC News: Africa ‘needs $1.2tn’ to recover coronavirus losses
“The economic damage as well as the health costs caused by coronavirus has left Africa needing $1.2tn (£920bn) over the next three years, the International Monetary Fund has said. IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said the world ‘must do more to support Africa to [recover] … from this crisis.’ Africa has had fewer Covid infections and deaths than most other continents. But the World Bank says 43 million more Africans are at risk of extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic…” (10/11).

Devex: Is World Bank fast-track COVID-19 funding reaching the most vulnerable?
“The World Bank’s efforts to move large amounts of funding quickly to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic have left some groups worried that marginalized populations might fall by the wayside when it comes to designing and implementing those projects. In April, the World Bank’s board of executive directors approved its first group of emergency support operations, part of a plan to mobilize $160 billion over the course of 15 months — by June 2021…” (Igoe, 10/12).

Coverage of how COVID-19-related economic downturns have impacted Malawi’s suicide rate is available from The Guardian.

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Experts Look For COVID-19 Lessons To Avert Next Pandemic; News Outlets Examine U.S., U.K. Responses

Axios: How to prevent the next pandemic
“Early global and national lessons of COVID-19 are already being used to plot a path to preventing the next pandemic. … As hard as it might be to accept, we’re no less at risk for another infectious disease pandemic now than we were at the start of COVID-19. Unless we revamp how the international community monitors infectious disease and bolster our national defenses, the next one could be even worse…” (Walsh, 10/10).

Wall Street Journal: Lessons for the Next Pandemic — Act Very, Very Quickly
“…One of the biggest lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic is that speed matters. The window of opportunity to find and stop a rapidly spreading virus is vanishingly small and intolerant of mistakes. … In a series of articles about the pandemic and its origins, The Wall Street Journal showed how slow reactions by governments and officials in the crucial first weeks had grave consequences. … Public-health leaders and scientists are now mining the lessons of Covid-19 for strategies to avert the next one…” (McKay, 10/11).

Devex: Poor domestic response to pandemic undermining U.K.’s global health announcements, experts say (Worley, 10/12).

PRI: Explainer: How the next U.S. president could vanquish the coronavirus (Piven, 10/9).

TIME: The U.S. Spent Billions of Dollars on Biodefense. COVID-19 Was the Attack it Never Saw Coming (Hennigan, 10/9).

Vox: Why Covid-19 cases are surging in the U.K. (Silberner, 10/10).

Washington Post: America’s reputation has suffered under covid-19, but China has struggled to step into the void (Noack, 10/12).

Washington Post: Another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic: Trust in government science (Achenbach/McGinley, 10/11).

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Media Outlets Examine COVID-19 Vaccine Diplomacy, Other Vaccine-Related News

AP: Trump official says vaccine expected starting in January (Mendoza/Linderman, 10/9).

BBC News: BCG: Can a vaccine from 1921 save lives from Covid-19? (Gallagher, 10/11).

CNN: China is doubling down in the global push for a coronavirus vaccine (Gan, 10/9).

The Guardian: U.S. won’t rely on U.K. for Covid vaccine safety tests, says Nancy Pelosi (Beaumont/Boseley, 10/9).

Health Policy Watch: Moderna Makes Milestone Pledge To ‘Not Enforce Our Patents’ On COVID-19 Vaccine Technologies During Pandemic & Issue Open Licenses Afterward (Santos/Fletcher, 10/8).

Health Policy Watch: China, Republic of Korea Join COVAX Global Vaccine Pool — WHO Urges Countries To Jumpstart Vaccine Campaigns (Fletcher/Hoecklin, 10/9).

POLITICO: Pfizer trying to defuse critics amid push for vaccine before Election Day (Cancryn/Owermohle, 10/9).

Reuters: WHO welcomes Moderna move not to enforce COVID-19 vaccine patents (Nebehay/Farge, 10/9).

Reuters: Health Canada to start real-time review of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Roy, 10/9).

Reuters: Mexico makes nearly $160 million down payment for COVAX vaccine plan (Graham, 10/10).

Reuters: U.K. study tests if BCG vaccine protects against COVID (Smout, 10/11).

Sydney Morning Herald: Please Explain podcast: Vaccine diplomacy and the post-COVID world order (Macguire, 10/12).

Vox: 171 countries are teaming up for a Covid-19 vaccine. But not the U.S. (Belluz, 10/9).

Wall Street Journal: People Harmed by Coronavirus Vaccines Will Have Little Recourse (Loftus/Pulliam, 10/11).

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News Outlets Discuss Experimental COVID-19 Treatments From Regeneron, Eli Lilly, Trump's Experience, Efforts To Provide Drugs To Low-Income Nations

New York Times: Trump’s Testimonial Is a Double-Edged Sword for Regeneron (Thomas et al., 10/9).

POLITICO: Regeneron CEO: Trump ‘is a case of one’ and ‘weakest evidence’ for Covid-19 treatment (O’Brien, 10/11).

Reuters: Eli Lilly in deal to supply COVID-19 drugs to low-income countries (Mishra, 10/8).

STAT: Listen: ‘They gave me Regeneron’: How Trump’s case of Covid-19 affects biotech, medicine, and the FDA (Garde et al., 10/8).

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COVID-19 Resurgence Less Deadly So Far, But Experts Unsure Why

Bloomberg: Covid’s Comeback Is Bigger But Less Deadly, at Least for Now
“…The deadly pathogen was always expected to make a comeback this winter, but an autumn rebound in infections across Europe and North America could make the colder months even more daunting than public health officials had anticipated. The pandemic’s resurgence is less deadly so far than during its bleak early months, when thousands were dying daily. The risk is that with official case numbers already jumping to records in many countries, caring for the sick will overburden hospitals…” (Lauerman et al., 10/10).

Washington Post: Covid-19 death rates are lower worldwide, but no one is sure whether that’s a blip or a trend
“…Death rates from the novel coronavirus are lower in hot spots around the world, even as new infections accelerate in what may be the pandemic’s next wave. Scientists are confident the change is real, but the reasons for it — and whether it will last — are a matter of intense debate…” (Cha et al., 10/9).

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Healthy Brains Global Initiative Seeks To Raise $10B For Mental Health Research; Pandemic Increasing Demand For Mental Health Services, UNFPA Says

Financial Times: Global initiative seeks to raise $10bn for mental health research
“Leading global health and development bodies are launching a $10bn research fund to fight brain disease and mental illness — a huge and growing problem that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The Healthy Brains Global Initiative (HBGI) aims to do for mental health what the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has achieved in reducing the burden of infectious diseases…” (Cookson, 10/9).

U.N. News: COVID-19 sparks increased demand for mental health services: UNFPA
“While the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been staggering, the full impact on health has been far greater, according to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). The agency said fear, isolation, grief, economic stress and shuttered support services have taken a toll on the mental well-being of people around the world…” (10/10).

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Nearly 690M People Undernourished Worldwide, 2020 Global Hunger Index Shows

Devex: SDG 2 is ‘slipping away,’ global hunger index shows
“Eleven countries have alarming levels of hunger while a further 40 have serious levels, according to the 2020 Global Hunger Index. The index, an annual look at levels of hunger around the world, ranks countries on a 100 point scale with a score of zero meaning there is no hunger. The index’s severity scale categorizes countries into five groups across the scale: low, moderate, serious, alarming, and extremely alarming levels of hunger. While average global hunger levels are moderate — scoring between 10 and 19.9 — almost 690 million people in the world are undernourished. This includes 144 million stunted children and 47 million wasted children. In 2018, 5.3 million children died before they turned 5 years old…” (Welsh, 10/12).

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Media Outlets Examine WFP's Work Following Nobel Peace Prize Win; Some Experts Question Award Choice

AP: WFP chief seeks million from donors, billionaires for food
“…[World Food Programme Executive Director David] Beasley, who got COVID-19 in April, has spent the months since he recovered reaching out to world leaders and visiting stricken countries with a new warning that he delivered to the U.N. Security Council last month: millions of people are closer to starvation because of the deadly combination of conflict, climate change, and the coronavirus pandemic. … Beasley urged donors, including governments and institutions, to help, and he made a special appeal to the more than 2,000 billionaires in the world, with a combined net worth of $8 trillion, to open their bank accounts. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday to the U.N. food agency is a tribute not only to its work in the even greater humanitarian crisis than Beasley envisioned in this COVID-ravaged year, but as the Nobel committee made clear it is a plea for unity and multilateral cooperation to tackle global challenges as WFP has done in a world facing increasing nationalism and populism…” (Lederer, 10/10).

AP: WFP chief: Nobel Prize message to world not to forget Sahel
“The head of the World Food Program said winning the Nobel Peace Prize while he was visiting the impoverished and war-weakened Sahel was a message to the world that it should not forget the region. … ‘The fact that I was in the Sahel when we received the [Nobel Peace Prize] announcement is really a message from above that, hey world with all the things going on around the world today please don’t forget about the people in the Sahel!’ said [WFP Executive Director David Beasley]…” (Mednick, 10/9).

Devex: WFP wins Nobel Prize but some question the choice
“…While many humanitarian organizations and other U.N. agencies celebrated WFP’s win, some critics say that while the work WFP does is valuable, awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a U.N. organization does not make sense even at a time when multilateralism has been increasingly challenged…” (Welsh, 10/9).

U.N. News: The World Food Programme: a three-year experiment that became indispensable
“Today, the WFP is needed more than ever. Armed conflicts continue to ravage the globe, and drive millions into poverty. This year, some 20 million people in South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and northern Nigeria are living on the brink of famine. Conflict is the main driver, alongside drought. … Responding to the Peace Prize win in a video message recorded on Friday, the U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres, praised the WFP as the world’s ‘first responder on the frontlines of food insecurity’…” (10/9).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: Brazil’s poor squeezed by less virus aid, surging food costs (Biller/Pollastri, 10/9).

AP: India cases cross 7 million as experts warn of complacency (Sharma/Ghosal, 10/11).

Bloomberg: Philippines Considers Relaxing Curfew, Readies Vaccine Trials (Jiao/Calonzo, 10/12).

Borgen Magazine: The (RED) Campaign: Fighting HIV/AIDS Amid COVID-19 (Davis, 10/10).

The Guardian: Aid cuts and Covid force Uganda refugees to brink of starvation (Okiror, 10/9).

New York Times: White House Blocked CDC From Requiring Masks on Public Transportation (Kaplan, 10/9).

NPR: Portraits Of Resilience: How 19 Women Around The Globe Face The Pandemic (Multiple authors, 10/9).

Reuters: Nurses suffer burn-out, psychological distress in COVID fight — association (Mantovani/Nebehay, 10/10).

Reuters: Malnutrition stalks Congo’s overcrowded prisons (Kambale/Holland, 10/12).

U.N. News: U.N. in Myanmar comes together to protect people from COVID-19 (10/11).

U.N. News: International Day of the Girl: ‘Be bold in your demands,’ urges U.N. deputy chief (10/9).

Xihnua: Interview: IFAD’s president says rural areas are key to fighting global hunger and poverty (10/10).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Address Various Aspects Of COVID-19, Including 'Syndemic' Nature Of Pandemic, Misinformation, Vaccine R&D

The Conversation: COVID-19: examining theories for Africa’s low death rates
Kevin Marsh, professor of Tropical Medicine at the University of Oxford, and Moses Alobo, program manager for Grand Challenges Africa, African Academy of Sciences (10/7).

Devex: Opinion: In the time of COVID-19, we need to invest in a different mental health system
Faraaz Mahomed, program officer in the Open Society Foundations’ public health program (10/9).

Financial Times: Covid-19 is really a syndemic — and that shows us how to fight it
Anjana Ahuja, science commentator for the Financial Times (10/9).

Scientific American: COVID Misinformation Is Killing People
Amir Bagherpour, political scientist and adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, and Ali Nouri, molecular biologist, president of the Federation of American Scientists, co-chair of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s New Voices Initiative, and member of the Academy’s Global Diplomacy Roundtable (10/11).

TIME: We Must Use This Moment to Improve Diversity in Clinical Trials — And Not Just for Vaccines
Belén Garijo, vice chair of the executive board and deputy CEO of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and CEO of its health care division (10/9).

Wall Street Journal: The Captain of Operation Warp Speed
Allysia Finley, member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board (10/9).

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U.S. Leadership, Sustained International Cooperation Critical To Resuming Progress On Global Poverty Eradication, Editorial Says

Washington Post: More of the world has plunged back into poverty — and Trump’s leadership won’t turn it around
Editorial Board

“It is no exaggeration to say that the years since the Cold War’s end have been something of a golden age for poverty eradication around the world. … Now, tragically, the deep global recession due to the coronavirus pandemic has brought at least a temporary halt to the progress. … Once considered ambitious but plausible, the United Nations’ goal of reducing extreme poverty to a rate of 3 percent or less by 2030 could be slipping out of reach, absent ‘swift, significant and substantial policy action,’ as [a recent World Bank report] noted. Especially urgent is the situation in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which account for the vast majority of the bank’s projected extreme-poverty increase. … Trump administration contributions to the World Food Program represent a bright exception to the ‘America First’ rule the president has set in other contexts, such as his threats to withdraw from the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization. Yet it will take much more, and more sustained, international cooperation to resume progress in global poverty eradication. And that, in turn, would require U.S. leadership to help overcome the strong incentives, political and economic, that the coronavirus creates for wealthier countries to turn inward. It would require, in other words, a very different kind of leadership than the Trump administration has provided for the past four years — or offers for the next four” (10/11).

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Political Solutions Needed To Address Food Security In Conflict, Researcher Writes

The Conversation: Nobel peace prize: hunger is a weapon of war but the World Food Programme can’t build peace on its own
Susanne Jaspars, research associate at both the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit and the SOAS Food Studies Centre at the University of London

“…Hunger has been used as a weapon of war for many years, but the issue has recently risen to prominence because of the increased risk of mass starvation in today’s conflicts. … The link between war and hunger was recognized explicitly with the passing of a U.N. security council resolution in 2018 which prohibited the use of hunger as a weapon of war. Since then, [the World Food Programme (WFP)] has been working more actively to understand the link between food security and conflict and how it can contribute to building peace. … However, WFP cannot address the political causes of hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition with food aid — or in fact with any technical intervention. Conflicts need political solutions and crimes of mass starvation need to be prosecuted. … There is a danger that WFP becomes a substitute for political action to address the causes of conflict or for prosecuting crimes of mass starvation. This would actually perpetuate the problem, as structural causes of hunger and malnutrition remain unaddressed. … With the spotlight of the Nobel peace prize, WFP can do much by making the political causes of hunger in conflict visible, helping to identify famine crimes, promoting effective assistance that is specific to particular contexts, and using its power to bring about political action” (10/9).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Releases Discuss Topics Related To COVID-19, Including Improving Health Systems; Uses, Limitations Of Mortality Measures To Assess Country Performance; Economic Costs

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: COVID-19 is showing us how to improve health systems — sometimes by disrupting them (October 2020).

Center for Global Development: When Numbers Don’t Speak for Themselves: COVID-19 and Thoughts on How to Measure a Country’s Performance
Damian Walker, non-resident fellow at CGD, and colleagues (10/9).

Oxfam International: IMF paves way for new era of austerity post-COVID-19 (10/12).

World Bank: Latin America and the Caribbean Must Seek to Contain the Costs from COVID-19 While Waiting for a Vaccine (10/9).

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Global Health Security Index Serves As Tool To Assess Health System Capacities While Considering Social, Political, Environmental Factors

BMJ Global Health: The value proposition of the Global Health Security Index
Sanjana J. Ravi, senior analyst at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, and colleagues discuss how the Global Health Security Index (GHS Index), a comprehensive assessment of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries, “can help decision makers identify weaknesses in systems for preventing, detecting, and responding to outbreaks, while also considering relevant social, political, and environmental risk factors” (10/8).

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Organizations Recognize International Day Of The Girl

ONE Campaign: 5 things to know about COVID-19’s impact on girls on International Day of the Girl
In recognition of the International Day of the Girl Child, Arielle Witter, social and editorial coordinator at the ONE Campaign, highlights five ways the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting girls globally (10/9).

WHO: International Day of the Girl Child
“…The 2020 theme of International Day of the Girl is ‘My voice, our equal future.’ This is a striking call to recognize girls’ inheritance of the still-unfinished Beijing Agenda, their expertise on the challenges they face especially for their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and their limitless capacity as change-makers. To commemorate the day, WHO co-organized a virtual intergenerational dialogue between girl advocates and high-level leaders about putting girls and their rights at the center of decision-making processes…” (10/11).

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Blog Posts Discuss Importance Of Investing In Mental Health On World Day

BMJ Opinion: Tuberculosis patients need better mental health support, especially in the time of covid-19
Debshree Lokhande, architect and XXDR-TB survivor and fellow at Survivors Against TB, and Diptendu Bhattacharya, educationist and MDR-TB survivor and fellow at Survivors Against TB (10/9).

PLOS Medicine’s “Speaking of Medicine”: Mental health for all: A wise investment
Editorial Board (10/9).

UNHCR: Q&A: ‘Before the pandemic, refugee mental health was severely overlooked. Now it’s a full-blown crisis’
Tim Gaynor, senior global website editor at UNHCR (10/10).

World Economic Forum: Why investment in mental health is needed now more than ever
Elisha London, chief executive officer at United for Global Mental Health (United GMH) (10/9).

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From the U.S. Government

DOD News Covers Department's Efforts To Address COVID-19 Internationally, Operation Warp Speed Progress

U.S. Department of Defense: DOD Uses International Contacts to Help Allies, Partners Combat COVID-19
DOD reporter Jim Garamone writes, “In January, when the first inklings of a new, dangerous virus in China was on the horizon, Defense Department personnel alerted a well-established and internationally connected departmental team to be prepared for a pandemic, said Stephanie Hammond, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability and humanitarian affairs. Overall, DOD has provided more than $105 million to 139 countries to aid testing, diagnostic support, infection control, personal protective equipment, contact tracing, and more. This has been accomplished through the Humanitarian Assistance and Response Operations team within Hammond’s Pentagon office…” (10/9).

U.S. Department of Defense: Operation Warp Speed Makes Swift Progress
DOD reporter Terri Moon Cronk writes, “In a telephone briefing with reporters, HHS policy deputy chief of staff Paul Mango said, ‘We’re very, very pleased with where we are.’ He was joined on the media conference call by Dr. Janet Woodcock, M.D., the director of the Center for Drug Evaluation Research at the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” (10/9).

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From KFF

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

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of October 12, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (10/12).

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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