KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Lack Of Global Leadership Prolonging Pandemic, Herd Immunity 'Not An Option' In Control Strategies, WHO DG Says

Financial Times: WHO chief says lack of global leadership has prolonged pandemic
“A lack of leadership from global powers had prolonged the coronavirus pandemic, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, said on Monday as he called on the world’s biggest economies to ‘step up’…” (Wilson/Pilling, 10/12).

U.N. News: Herd immunity, an ‘unethical’ COVID-19 strategy, Tedros warns policymakers
“Using the principle of so-called ‘herd immunity’ to stem the COVID-19 pandemic is ‘unethical’ and ‘not an option’ countries should pursue to defeat the virus, the U.N. health agency chief warned on Monday. ‘Herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached,’ Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), told the agency’s regular press briefing in Geneva…” (10/12).

Wall Street Journal: As Covid Cases Surge, More Public-Health Experts Say Lockdowns Aren’t the Answer
“As Covid-19 cases surge across large parts of Europe and the U.S., officials are reluctant to force another round of nationwide lockdowns of the sort imposed in March. But this time — unlike in the spring — public-health experts broadly and increasingly agree, with some worried that the general public won’t cooperate with another monthslong, generalized lockdown against a disease whose transmission is now much better understood. The World Health Organization has long favored interventions that come with less economic and social disruption than lockdowns, recommending that governments pursue a strategy called ‘test, trace, isolate,’ of sequestering people exposed to the virus. … Still, in recent days, WHO leaders have become more vocal in their encouragements that governments could do more to improve public-safety measures that would reduce the need for a second round of nationwide lockdowns…” (Hinshaw/Colchester, 10/12).

Additional coverage of WHO’s warnings is available from AP, Forbes, Fox News, Reuters, VOA News, and Washington Times.

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Greater Cooperation Needed To Stop Criminals Profiting From COVID-19 Pandemic, U.N. SG Urges

U.N. News: Greater cooperation urged worldwide as criminals seek to profit from COVID-19
“With criminal networks looking to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical for governments to work together in line with a landmark U.N. treaty to combat human trafficking, gun smuggling, and other cross-border crimes, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday. His comments came in a video message to the latest meeting of countries which have signed the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime…” (10/12).

Additional coverage of cybercriminals diverting billions in COVID-19 relief funds in the U.S. is available from POLITICO.

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J&J Pauses Coronavirus Vaccine Study Due To Participant's Unexplained Illness; Media Outlets Cover Other Aspects Of Vaccine, Treatment Research, Public Opinion

STAT: Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine study paused due to unexplained illness in participant
“The study of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine has been paused due to an unexplained illness in a study participant. A document sent to outside researchers running the 60,000-patient clinical trial states that a ‘pausing rule’ has been met, that the online system used to enroll patients in the study has been closed, and that the data and safety monitoring board — an independent committee that watches over the safety of patients in the clinical trial — would be convened. The document was obtained by STAT. Contacted by STAT, J&J confirmed the study pause, saying it was due to ‘an unexplained illness in a study participant.’ The company declined to provide further details…” (Herper, 10/12).

Additional coverage of the study’s temporary pause is available from CNN, The Hill, and POLITICO.

Axios: Vaccine initiative now covers almost entire world, but not U.S. or Russia (Lawler, 10/12).

Becker’s Hospital Review: Operation Warp Speed czar: Vaccine approval likely to be sought around Thanksgiving (Adams, 10/23).

The Hill: Abbott gets emergency authorization for new COVID antibody test (Weixel, 10/12).

New York Times: The Race for a Super-Antibody Against the Coronavirus (Mandavilli, 10/12).

New York Times: First, a Vaccine Approval. Then ‘Chaos and Confusion’ (Zimmer, 10/12).

New York Times: Heidi Larson Knows How to Build Trust in Vaccines (Anderson, 10/13).

Reuters: WHO says 180-plus countries including China committed to vaccine effort (Miller, 10/12).

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Grief Spreads In Wake Of Pandemic; Some Optimism Seen As Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions Save Lives, Vaccine, Treatment Research Progress

AP: As a pandemic presses on, waves of grief follow its path
“…Illness and death are the pandemic’s most feared consequences, but a collective sense of loss is perhaps its most pervasive. Around the world, the pandemic has spread grief by degrees. While less than 1% of the global population is known to have been infected, few on Earth have been spared some form of loss since the coronavirus took hold. With nearly 1 million deaths worldwide, full-blown bereavement is the most recognizable. But even smaller losses can leave people feeling empty and unsettled…” (Tanner, 10/12).

New York Times: A Dose of Optimism, as the Pandemic Rages On
“…So far some 215,000 Americans have lost their lives to the coronavirus, and reliable estimates suggest that the number could reach 400,000. Health experts agree that, with stronger leadership, the death toll would have been far lower. … Nonetheless, there is a collective accomplishment here worth acknowledging. … Today, and despite the president’s own resistance, masks are widely accepted. … The slow but relentless acceptance of what epidemiologists call ‘non-pharmaceutical interventions’ has made a huge difference in lives saved. The next step is pharmaceutical interventions…” (McNeil, 10/12).

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$330B Needed To End World Hunger By 2030, Global Hunger Index Says; U.N. SG Announces New Plan To Transform World's Food Systems

The Guardian: Ending world hunger by 2030 would cost $330bn, study finds
“Ending hunger by 2030 would come with a price tag of $330bn (£253bn), according to a study backed by the German government. Research groups compiled data from 23 countries and found international donors would need to add another $14bn a year to their spending on food security and nutrition over the next 10 years; more than twice their current contribution. Low- and middle-income countries would also have to give another $19bn a year, potentially through taxation. The study, published this week, coincided with warnings that the world has an ‘immense mountain’ to climb in order to end hunger, with 11 countries showing ‘alarming’ levels of hunger, and ‘serious’ levels in another 40, according to the Global Hunger Index…” (Ahmed, 10/13).

U.N. News: U.N. chief announces major push to transform harmful food systems
“The U.N. chief António Guterres set out a new plan to transform the world’s food systems on Monday — coinciding with the start of World Food Week — which will culminate in a major summit, scheduled to take place in September next year. In a video message, Mr. Guterres highlighted the importance of food systems, and their impact on economies, environment, and health, but warned that they are ‘one of the main reasons we are failing to stay within our planet’s ecological boundaries’…” (10/12).

Additional coverage of the Global Hunger Index and nutrition funding in African nations is available from Devex and DW.

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U.N. Urges More Global Action On Risk Reduction, Impact Forecasting To Prepare For Climate-Related Disasters

U.N. News: ‘Staggering’ rise in climate emergencies in last 20 years, new disaster research shows
“In an urgent call for countries to prepare better for all catastrophic events — from earthquakes and tsunamis to biological threats such as the new coronavirus — data from the U.N. Office on Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) indicates that wealthy nations have done little to tackle the harmful emissions that are linked to climate threats which make up the bulk of disasters today…” (10/12).

U.N. News: Bad situations ‘only get worse’ without disaster risk governance, U.N. chief says on International Day
“In a message commemorating the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, Secretary-General António Guterres warned that without good disaster risk governance, ‘bad situations only get worse.’ Noting that disaster risk isn’t the ‘sole responsibility’ of local and national authorities, Mr. Guterres highlighted the need for political commitment at the highest level to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. ‘Good disaster risk governance means acting on science and evidence,’ he added…” (10/13).

U.N. News: Shift needed from what weather will be, to ‘what the weather will do’
“The State of Climate Services 2020 Report: Move from Early Warnings to Early Action, released on Tuesday by the U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO), underscored the need to switch to impact-based forecasting — an evolution from ‘what the weather will be’ to ‘what the weather will do’ so that people and businesses can act early, based on the warnings…” (10/13).

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Devex Examines Global WASH Financing Gap, Speaks With Sanitation And Water For All Chair

Devex: Kevin Rudd’s guide to making the case for WASH financing
” ‘It’s not just good economics, it’s good politics.’ That’s former Australian Prime Minister and High-Level Chair of Sanitation and Water for All Kevin Rudd’s message to finance ministers ahead of the group’s upcoming meetings for water, sanitation, and hygiene. Held biannually by SWA — a partnership of governments, donors, civil society organizations, and other development partners ‘working to catalyze political leadership and improve accountability in sanitation, water and hygiene’ — the high-level meetings convene finance ministers from across the world to discuss smart investments that can be made to fill the WASH financing gap…” (Root, 10/13)

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

Al Jazeera: Q&A: ‘We can eradicate polio from the world’ (Aziz, 10/12).

AP: Asia Today: China city says it’s tested 3 million for virus (10/13).

AP: E.U. nations set to adopt common travel rules amid pandemic (Petrequin, 10/12).

AP: Iran shatters its single-day record for virus deaths, cases (Vahdat/DeBre, 10/12).

Borgen Magazine: The U.N. Initiates the Alliance for Poverty Eradication (Kuras, 10/12).

Devex: COVID-19 threatens the vision of thousands in the Palestinian territories (Root, 10/13).

Devex: As easy as pie — how telecare is helping Brazil’s health care workers (Shue, 10/12).

The Hill: Scientists confirm Nevada 25-year-old got coronavirus twice, second case was more severe (Seipel, 10/12).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: FEATURE — ‘Corona carriers’: Stigma halts medication and meet-ups for HIV+ Malawians (Pensulo/Harrisberg, 10/12).

U.N. News: Greater equality a ‘prerequisite’ for overcoming global crises: Bachelet (10/12).

Washington Post: Second wave of covid-19 in Europe leads to new restrictions but no national lockdowns (Adam et al., 10/12).

Xinhua: South Sudan dismiss rumors of Ebola outbreak (10/12).

Xinhua: COVID-19 impacts push urban centers, refugee settlements in Uganda to food crisis levels (10/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Public Health Experts Must Build Effective Partnerships, Engage Better With All Communities Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Says Opinion Piece

Washington Post: We’re public health experts. We need to do a better job of talking to conservatives
Lindsey Leininger, clinical professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and co-director of the Dear Pandemic public health campaign, and Harold Pollack, professor at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and co-director of the University of Chicago Health Lab

“…We [in the public health community] have failed to nurture and preserve our own standing as a trusted resource for much of America. We must do better. A key piece of our professional training involves identifying and addressing the blind spots caused by our beliefs, backgrounds, cultural influences, and preferred information sources. It’s crucial to do this if we want to build effective partnerships with communities and cultures that differ from our own. … We cannot allow the public health enterprise to become estranged from conservative America. We can do better, starting with a reaffirmation that our shared values are more important than what sets us apart. … Rather than assuming we know best how to promote protective measures and behaviors, we who work in public health should always look to successful messengers for these ideas within the communities we hope to persuade. … We must build and sustain these relationships for the long haul. In the fight against covid-19, and beyond, we’re going to need them” (10/12).

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FT Editorial Discusses China's Vaccine Diplomacy Efforts

Financial Times: China’s vaccine diplomacy has broader aims
Editorial Board

“As the U.S. under President Donald Trump retreats from multilateral efforts on climate change and health, so China is rushing to fill the void. First came Xi Jinping’s commitment last month to make his country carbon neutral by 2060. Then late last week Beijing signaled it would join a World Health Organization initiative aimed at ensuring fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world. Both moves appear part of a wider public relations effort by Beijing to present itself as a good global citizen, and counter souring international perceptions of China. … Along with the emissions target, and a sign of willingness to co-operate on multilateral debt forgiveness, the vaccines step appears part of a broader attempt by China to portray itself as a more constructive partner. That cannot obscure the deep concerns over its behavior, including its treatment of Uighurs, its Hong Kong clampdown, and threatening stance towards Taiwan. After the increase in tensions with the west in recent years, however, any indication of a shift in Beijing’s approach should be seen, with due caution, as positive” (10/12).

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U.S. Africa Policy Should Focus On, Engage With Local Civil Society, Religious, Traditional Leaders, Says Opinion Piece

Foreign Affairs: U.S. Africa Policy Needs a Reset
John Campbell, Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

“…U.S. Africa policy does need a reset. For decades, U.S. diplomacy has falsely assumed that Africa comprises traditional nation-states whose governments control their territories and speak for their people. With the exception of a handful of postcolonial African states, that has never been the case. As a result, U.S. diplomacy has focused too much on national-level elites and the elections through which they maintain power and not enough on local leaders and priorities. A better approach would engage with civil society, religious, and traditional leaders, and prioritize issues such as the rule of law that are more popular with African people than with African governments. … [W]hichever U.S. candidate wins [the upcoming election in November], Africa’s future will remain largely in African hands. For good or for ill, the United States does not wield as much influence in Africa as the former colonial powers. Its ties to the continent have traditionally been shallow, and U.S. businesses have been timid about investing and trading in Africa. Popular U.S. support for greater involvement in Africa is limited, and U.S. policymakers have been slow to recognize the continent’s growing importance. Nevertheless, African demography, security, and health issues will mandate greater U.S. diplomatic engagement. To be effective, the next administration’s policies toward Africa must reflect African realities” (10/12).

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Research Engagement With Smallholder Farmers Critical To Achieving SDG To End Hunger, Nature Editorial Says

Nature: Ending hunger: science must stop neglecting smallholder farmers
Editorial Board

“…[W]hy aren’t more researchers answering more practical questions about ending hunger that are relevant to smallholder farmers? Many of the key reasons can be traced to the changing priorities of international agricultural-research funding. During the past four decades, funding provision for this type of research has been shifting towards the private sector … Increasingly, university research-strategy teams want their academics to bid for larger grants … Publishers also bear some responsibility. … National research agencies, too, need to listen, because they are the major funding source for researchers in universities. There’s a place for collaborating with big businesses, but achieving the SDG to end hunger will require an order of magnitude more research engagement with smallholders and their families. Their needs — and thus the route to ending hunger — have been neglected for too long” (10/12).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Releases Discuss Actions Needed To Prepare For Future Pandemics

World Bank: Epidemic Preparedness and Response (10/12).

World Economic Forum: 5 urgent actions to stop future pandemics crushing the global economy
Harry Kretchmer, senior writer for Formative Content (10/12).

World Politics Review: The Time to Start Preparing for the Next Pandemic Is Now
Stewart M. Patrick, James H. Binger senior fellow in global governance and director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (10/12).

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Donors Must Double Investments In Food Security, Nutrition, New Research Says; U.N. Agencies Release Statement On COVID-19's Impact On Health, Food Systems, Economies

FAO: Donors must double investments to stamp out hunger
“If donors double their investments and spend the money wisely, they could help end hunger by 2030, a coalition of research groups said in a call-to-action ahead of World Food Day. Donors must spend an additional US$14 billion on average each year between now and 2030, roughly double what they currently spend on aid for food security and nutrition, according to new research from the Center for Development Research (ZEF), Cornell University, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)…” (10/12).

WHO: Impact of COVID-19 on people’s livelihoods, their health and our food systems
This joint statement by ILO, FAO, IFAD and WHO discusses the impact of COVID-19 on public health, food systems, and economies, noting, “In the COVID-19 crisis food security, public health, and employment and labor issues, in particular workers’ health and safety, converge. … We need to develop long-term sustainable strategies to address the challenges facing the health and agri-food sectors. Priority should be given to addressing underlying food security and malnutrition challenges, tackling rural poverty, in particular through more and better jobs in the rural economy, extending social protection to all, facilitating safe migration pathways, and promoting the formalization of the informal economy…” (10/13).

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Africa CDC Launches Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative To Strengthen Public Health Surveillance, Laboratory Networks Across Continent

Africa Centers for Disease Control: US$100 million Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative to boost disease surveillance and emergency response capacity in Africa
“[On Monday], a group of public, private, and non-profit organizations, led by the African Union Commission through the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), launched the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative (Africa PGI) in a US$100 million, four-year partnership to expand access to next-generation genomic sequencing tools and expertise designed to strengthen public health surveillance and laboratory networks across Africa. … This new initiative will build a continent-wide disease surveillance and laboratory network based on pathogen genomic sequencing. This network will not only help identify and inform research and public health responses to COVID-19 and other epidemic threats, but also for endemic diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and other infectious diseases…” (10/12).

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More New HIV Infections Among Men Than Women In 2019, UNAIDS Data Show

UNAIDS: New HIV infections: men outnumber women
“Men living with HIV are less likely to access HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy, and they also experience higher levels of new HIV infections. … There were fewer new HIV infections in 2019 worldwide among women and girls (48% of total infections) than among men and boys (52%) in 2019 — globally the annual number of new infections has been falling more rapidly among women and girls (a 27% decrease since 2010) than among men and boys (an 18% decrease)” (10/12).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Senator Patty Murray Launches Tracker Detailing Reports Of Political Interference In U.S. COVID-19 Response Efforts

U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions: Murray Launches Interference Tracker Amid Continued Revelations of Trump Officials Meddling in COVID-19 Response
“[On Sunday], U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, launched the Save Our Science (SOS) Political Interference Tracker, a page that details the many reports of Trump Administration officials interfering in the work of public health experts and scientists on the frontlines of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts. … Last month, Senator Murray introduced the Science and Transparency Over Politics (STOP) Act, which would create a task force of the Pandemic Response and Accountability Committee charged with conducting a thorough investigation into any political interference with decisions made by scientific agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services in connection with the pandemic response…” (10/11).

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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 13, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (10/13).

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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