KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

WHO DG Advises Nations To Continue Coronavirus Mitigation Strategies; WHO Experts Discuss Lessons Learned, Pandemic Trajectory

Reuters: Europe, North America should learn from Asia on COVID-19 — WHO expert
“Europe and North America should follow the example of Asian states by persevering with anti-COVID measures and quarantining anyone who comes into contact with infected people, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Monday…” (Nebehay/Shields, 10/19).

The Telegraph: Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove: ‘There are no inevitable subsequent peaks or waves of coronavirus’
“Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove is an American epidemiologist and a technical lead on the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 response program. She spoke to the Telegraph’s Global Health Security team about how coronavirus has worsened existing inequalities, the gendered nature of the international community’s response, and why repeated waves of the disease are far from ‘inevitable’…” (Penna, 10/20).

U.N. News: Focus on fundamentals as COVID-19 caseloads rise: WHO
“As COVID-19 cases continue to accelerate, particularly in Europe and North America, the World Health Organization (WHO) is advising governments and people everywhere not to let their guard down, for the benefit of those hospitalized, or working on the front line of the battle to end the pandemic…” (10/19).

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184 Countries Have Joined COVAX, WHO Says; Vaccine Hesitancy Could Prove Challenging, Study Shows; Media Outlets Provide Other Vaccine-Related News

Devex: What do people in BRICS countries think about a COVID-19 vaccine?
“Vaccine hesitancy will prove a steep challenge for global efforts to find a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine and ensure its equitable distribution, new evidence suggests. About 28% of 13,400 individuals from 19 countries would hesitate to get, or completely refuse, a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a study published Tuesday on the opening day of the 51st Union World Conference on Lung Health. The study surveyed respondents from some of the countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, including those that make up the BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa…” (Ravelo, 10/20).

VOA News: WHO Says 184 Countries Have Now Joined COVAX Vaccine Program
“The World Health Organization says 184 countries have now joined the COVID-19 global vaccine alliance, known as COVAX, designed to speed development and ensure distribution of viable vaccines and treatments for the ailment caused by the coronavirus. At the organization’s Monday briefing at its headquarters in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Ecuador and Uruguay are the most recent nations to join the cooperative program…” (10/19).

The Atlantic: The Vaccine News That Really Matters (Zhang, 10/19).

Financial Times: World’s first Covid human challenge trials to start in London (Cookson, 10/20).

The Guardian: ‘Killer’ cells in Ebola immunity study could help Covid research (O’Carroll, 10/19).

NPR: UNICEF To Stockpile Over Half A Billion Syringes For Future COVID-19 Vaccine (Oxner, 10/19).

Reuters: Sinopharm says may be able to make over one billion coronavirus vaccine doses in 2021 (Liu/Munroe, 10/20).

Reuters: Pfizer, BioNTech start combined trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Japan (Swift, 10/20).

Reuters: WHO says expects to hear more soon on paused COVID-19 antibody trial (Shields/Nebehay, 10/19).

Reuters: Coronavirus vaccine unlikely to be available in Britain before spring — adviser (10/19).

Reuters: China’s Sinovac vaccine is safe, Brazil institute says (Liu/Boadle, 10/19).

Science: Could certain COVID-19 vaccines leave people more vulnerable to the AIDS virus? (Cohen, 10/19).

STAT: Why this week’s meeting of an FDA advisory panel on Covid-19 vaccines matters (Branswell, 10/20).

The Telegraph: Unicef unveils plan to stockpile half a billion vaccine syringes by Christmas (Newey, 10/19).

U.N. News: COVID-19 vaccine: UNICEF to stockpile more than half a billion syringes by year’s end (10/19).

Washington Post: Britain to infect healthy volunteers with coronavirus in vaccine challenge trials (Booth/Johnson, 10/20).

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GAO To Investigate Allegations Of Trump Administration Interference At CDC, FDA; Trump Calls Fauci, Scientists 'Idiots' In Campaign Call; Washington Post Highlights Discord Among White House COVID-19 Task Force

The Hill: Government watchdog to investigate allegations of Trump interference at CDC, FDA
“…The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said it had accepted a request from Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Gary Peters (Mich.) to review whether the scientific integrity and communications policies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been violated, and ‘whether those policies are being implemented as intended to assure scientific integrity throughout the agency.’ The senators requested the investigation earlier this month, following numerous reports of political meddling in the COVID-19 response at both CDC and FDA…” (Weixel, 10/19).

New York Times: A Viral Theory Cited by Health Officials Draws Fire From Scientists
“As the coronavirus pandemic erupted this spring, two Stanford University professors — Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and Dr. Scott W. Atlas — bonded over a shared concern that lockdowns were creating economic and societal devastation. Now Dr. Atlas is President Trump’s pandemic adviser, a powerful voice inside the White House. And Dr. Bhattacharya is one of three authors of the so-called Great Barrington Declaration, a scientific treatise that calls for allowing the coronavirus to spread naturally in order to achieve herd immunity — the point at which enough people have been infected to stall transmission of the pathogen in the community. … Alarmed and angry, 80 experts on Wednesday published a manifesto of their own, the John Snow Memorandum (named after a legendary epidemiologist), saying that the declaration’s approach would endanger Americans who have underlying conditions that put them at high risk from severe Covid-19 — at least one-third of U.S. citizens, by most estimates — and result in perhaps a half-million deaths…” (Mandavilli/Stolberg, 10/19).

POLITICO: ‘Fauci’s a disaster’: Trump attacks health officials in fiery campaign call
“President Donald Trump attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci and his administration’s other public health officials as ‘idiots’ in a heated call with his campaign staff Monday, even musing about potentially firing the nation’s top infectious disease expert. ‘People are tired of Covid. People are saying, ‘Whatever, just leave us alone.’ People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,’ Trump said on the call, which included press…” (Forgey, 10/19).

Washington Post: Trump’s den of dissent: Inside the White House task force as coronavirus surges
“…Discord on the coronavirus task force has worsened since the arrival in late summer of [Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist whose commentary on Fox News led President Trump to recruit him to the White House], whom colleagues said they regard as ill-informed, manipulative and at times dishonest. … Birx recently confronted the office of Vice President Pence, who chairs the task force, about the acrimony, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Birx, whose profile and influence have eroded considerably since Atlas’s arrival, told Pence’s office that she does not trust Atlas, does not believe he is giving Trump sound advice and wants him removed from the task force, the two people said. … The result has been a U.S. response increasingly plagued by distrust, infighting, and lethargy, just as experts predict coronavirus cases could surge this winter and deaths could reach 400,000 by year’s end. This assessment is based on interviews with 41 administration officials, advisers to the president, public health leaders, and other people with knowledge of internal government deliberations, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide candid assessments or confidential information…” (Abutaleb et al., 10/19).

Additional coverage of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic is available from The Hill, POLITICO, Scientific American, and Washington Post.

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POLITICO Europe Examines Increasing Difficulties In Fundraising For HIV Epidemic As Treatments Improve

POLITICO Europe: The HIV fight is growing old
“This article is part of Telescope: The New AIDS Epidemic, a deep-dive investigation into the modern face of a disease that transformed the world. As medical breakthroughs allow more and more people to grow old with AIDS, the virus has — in many circles — become old news…” (Wheaton, 10/20).

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Wellcome Trust To Focus Funding More On Infectious Diseases, Climate Change, Mental Health

Science: In new strategy, Wellcome Trust will take on global health challenges
“One of the world’s largest nongovernmental funders of science, the Wellcome Trust, is enlarging its focus to include goal-oriented, as well as basic research. The London-based philanthropy, which spends more than £1 billion per year, said [Monday] it will boost funding for research on infectious diseases, the health effects of global warming, and mental health. The new strategy moves it closer to philanthropies such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on public health challenges around the world…” (Kupferschmidt, 10/19).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: Argentina hits 1 million cases as virus slams Latin America (Deluca et al., 10/20).

AP: South Africa’s health minister gets COVID-19, as cases rise (Magome/Meldrum, 10/19).

AP: Belgium fears virus ‘tsunami’ as COVID-19 cases keep soaring (Petrequin, 10/19).

Borgen Magazine: The Philippines’ Birth Practices Facilitate Maternal and Infant Mortality Declines (Young, 10/19).

The Conversation Africa: Invasive mosquito species could bring more malaria to Africa’s urban areas (Spooner, 10/19).

Devex: Is the COVID-19 pandemic a cash transfer tipping point? (Igoe, 10/19).

Devex: Scientists build on HIV research in bid to stop snakebite deaths (Jerving, 10/20).

Devex: African leaders question U.S. position on China at investment event (Saldinger, 10/19).

Devex: The pandemic takes its toll on women and girls’ mental health (Smith, 10/20).

Financial Times: Iranian hospitals hobbled by sanctions in fight against Covid (Bozorgmehr, 10/20).

The Guardian: Tuberculosis breakthrough as scientists develop risk prediction tool (Ahmed, 10/20).

The Guardian: Covid-19: what can we learn from the HIV/Aids pandemic? — podcast (Boseley/Waters, 10/20).

The Guardian: Climate finance driving poor countries deeper into debt, says Oxfam (Harvey, 10/19).

Nature: The unsung heroes of the Nobel-winning hepatitis C discovery (Ledford, 10/19).

New Humanitarian: From conflict to a pandemic: Kashmir’s volunteer aid brigade (Wani, 10/19).

Newsweek: Sweden, Which Refused Lockdown During COVID First Wave, Imposes Restrictions as Cases Soar (Kim, 10/19).

New York Times: With Covid-19 Under Control, China’s Economy Surges Ahead (Bradsher, 10/18).

NPR: 3 Female Health Care Heroes: From Iceland’s Top Doc To A Village Protector In India (Sigfússon et al., 10/19).

POLITICO: Canada keeps border closed as Covid-19 cases spike in U.S. (Blatchford, 10/19).

U.N. News: Burkina Faso ‘one step short of famine,’ warns U.N. food relief agency (10/19).

USA TODAY: Air pollution could increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or other neurological disorders, study suggests (Rodriguez, 10/19).

Washington Post: The pandemic is rewriting the rules of science. But at what cost? (Sellers, 10/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Role Of Journalism; Lessons From Developing Countries; U.S., U.K., Israel Responses

The Atlantic: We May Never Know the Full Story of COVID-19
Karl Taro Greenfeld, journalist, novelist, television writer, and author (10/20).

Project Syndicate: How Israel Failed Its COVID Test
Shlomo Ben-Ami, vice president of the Toledo International Center for Peace and former Israeli foreign minister (10/12).

Project Syndicate: Boris Johnson’s Failed COVID-19 Launch
Mariana Mazzucato, professor of economics of innovation and public value at University College London and founding director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, and Anthony Costello, professor of global health and sustainable development at University College London (10/19).

Quartz Africa: What developing countries can teach rich countries about how to respond to a pandemic
Maru Mormina, senior researcher and global development ethics adviser at the University of Oxford, and Ifeanyi M. Nsofor, senior Atlantic fellow in health equity at George Washington University (10/19).

Washington Post: Of course we’re tired of the coronavirus, Mr. President. Wishful thinking won’t make it go away
Editorial Board (10/19).

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Opinion Piece Urges More Innovation In Eye Health

Devex: How to encourage and nurture an innovation mindset in eye health
Anurag Hans, leads the Base of Pyramid innovation, strategy, and operation team at Essilor International

“For those of us working in the development sector, the last months have undoubtedly been challenging, with resources rightly diverted to dealing with COVID-19. This is unlikely to change for some time yet the challenges we face in the vision care sector remain. Ninety-percent of the 2.7 billion suffering from uncorrected poor vision globally are from base-of-the-pyramid economies, and the most impacted by the pandemic. … The pandemic has exacerbated the need for us to find solutions to the barriers in addressing the need for affordable eye care products, better access to primary vision care providers, and increased awareness of the importance of getting your eyes tested in balance of payments economies. … None of us knows what the world will look like in the next few years or what the lasting effects of the pandemic might be, but one thing we do know is that innovation will always play a crucial role within the vision care sector if we want to eliminate poor vision from the entire world by 2050” (10/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Lancet Global Health Piece Examines Emergence Of Gender Inequalities In Health, Well-Being Across Childhood, Adolescence In Asia-Pacific Region

The Lancet Global Health: Gender inequalities in health and wellbeing across the first two decades of life: an analysis of 40 low-income and middle-income countries in the Asia-Pacific region
Elissa Kennedy, co-program director for Maternal and Child Health and co-head of Global Adolescent Health at Burnet Institute, and colleagues discuss the emergence of gender inequalities in health and well-being across the first two decades of life — childhood and adolescence. The authors conclude, “These findings call for a focus on gender policy and programming in later childhood and early adolescence before gender inequalities become embedded” (10/19).

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Ending Extreme Poverty In Latin America, Caribbean Requires Greater Emphasis On Addressing Gender Equality, World Bank Expert Writes

World Bank: We will not end poverty without closing gender gaps
Robert Taliercio O’Brien, regional director for Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions (EFI) for Latin America and the Caribbean at the World Bank, discusses the need to address gender equality to reduce poverty, writing, “The pandemic has imposed new challenges in the [Latin America and Caribbean] region for poverty reduction. Ending extreme poverty and recovering from the crisis requires providing opportunities for all individuals, especially women, to access economic opportunities. In order to achieve this goal, a greater emphasis must be placed on gender equality and the removal of barriers that disproportionately affect women. In other words, we will not end poverty without closing gender gaps” (10/19).

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Millions Of Out-Of-School Children In Central Sahel Region At Risk Of Violence, Save The Children Warns, Urges International Community To Increase Support

Save the Children: Millions of Out-of-School Children at Increased Risk of Violence — Save the Children
“Millions of children in the central Sahel region who are out of school due to conflict, recent flooding, and COVID-19, are at a higher risk of falling victim to violence, Save the Children warned [Monday]. Children in areas in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger face a daily risk of kidnappings, killing, maiming, and recruitment by armed groups, the charity said. … Save the Children reminds the governments of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger that they have signed up to the Safe Schools Declaration, committing themselves to protect and enable children to continue their education even during armed conflicts. However, as local budgets are not sufficient, the international community needs to step up to support the millions of children who are trapped by armed conflict and are seeing their right to education violated…” (10/19).

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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 20, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (10/20).

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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