KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump, Health Advisers Split On COVID-19 Response; VP Pence Absent From Pandemic Planning Calls For Over 1 Month

AP: On virus, Trump and health advisers go their separate ways
“A multi-state coronavirus surge in the countdown to Election Day has exposed a clear split between President Donald Trump’s bullish embrace of a return to normalcy and urgent public warnings from the government’s top health officials. … The Republican president and the health officials appear to be moving farther apart since White House chief of staff Mark Meadows declared last Sunday ‘we’re not going to control the pandemic’…” (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/30).

POLITICO: Pence absent from Covid-19 planning calls for more than a month
“When Vice President Mike Pence first took charge of the White House’s coronavirus task force, among his earliest moves was establishing a standing call with all 50 governors aimed at closely coordinating the nation’s pandemic fight. Yet as the U.S. confronts its biggest Covid-19 surge to date, Pence hasn’t attended one of those meetings in over a month. … It’s a prolonged absence that represents just the latest sign of the task force’s diminished role in the face of the worsening public health crisis it was originally created to combat…” (Cancryn/Goldberg, 10/29).

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India Passes 8M COVID-19 Cases As Numbers Begin To Drop; Experts Discuss Election Promises Of Vaccine, Claims Of Herd Immunity

Devex: In India, a new election promise: A vaccine for COVID-19
“Six days before some 72 million people were scheduled to go to the polls in the eastern state of Bihar, the Bharatiya Janata Party announced its manifesto which touted the promise of a free COVID-19 vaccine for everyone in the state, if the party was elected. This sparked heated debates, questioning the ethics and substance of such a promise in India’s first major state election since the pandemic started. The manifesto and the criticism that followed prompted the central health minister, also from BJP, to announce that everyone in India would get a free COVID-19 vaccine. But experts are wary, and say that the party is exploiting people’s fears…” (Byatnal, 10/30).

NPR: India Surpasses 8 Million Coronavirus Cases; 2nd Only To U.S.
“India has surpassed 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases, making it the second country to reach that milestone after the United States. Daily new cases in India are continuing to drop after a record high in September, and a government-appointed panel of scientists has said that the country is past its peak. But the Hindu festival season, local elections and seasonal air pollution are raising concerns that the virus could surge again…” (Pathak, 10/29).

Science: India’s COVID-19 cases have declined rapidly — but herd immunity is still far away, scientists say
“Last week, a panel of leading scientists appointed by the Indian government delivered a startlingly optimistic message: The world’s second largest COVID-19 epidemic has rounded a corner. India’s daily number of daily new cases has almost halved the past six weeks, and a new mathematical model suggests ‘we may have reached herd immunity,’ some members of the panel wrote in a paper published online by the Indian Journal of Medical Research. Assuming measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and hand washing remain in place, the group said the pandemic could be ‘controlled by early next year.’ But other scientists say the model overestimates the number of people already infected and warn that with colder temperatures and several religious holidays approaching, India may well see a second wave…” (Chandrashekhar, 10/29).

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Loss Of Habitat, Biodiversity Will Lead To Future Pandemics, IPBES Report Warns

France 24: Nature loss means deadlier future pandemics, U.N. warns
“Future pandemics will happen more often, kill more people, and wreak even worse damage to the global economy than Covid-19 without a fundamental shift in how humans treat nature, the United Nations’ biodiversity panel said Thursday. Warning that there are up to 850,000 viruses which, like the novel coronavirus, exist in animals and may be able to infect people, the panel known as IPBES said pandemics represented an ‘existential threat’ to humanity. Authors of the special report on biodiversity and pandemics said that habitat destruction and insatiable consumption made animal-borne diseases far more likely to make the jump to people in future…” (10/29).

U.N. News: Reduce risk to avert ‘era of pandemics,’ experts warn in new report
“…Their study stems from an urgent virtual workshop convened by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) to investigate the links between pandemic risk and the degradation of nature. It finds that risk is increasing rapidly, with more than five new diseases emerging in people every year, any one of which could potentially spark a pandemic. COVID-19 is at least the sixth global health pandemic since the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, also known as the Spanish flu, the 22 experts said…” (10/29).

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News Outlets Examine Various Aspects Of Race For COVID-19 Vaccine, Therapeutics, Including Operation Warp Speed; IFFIm Vaccine Bond Sales; WHO Plan For Vaccine Insurance; Pharma Companies' Actions; Vaccine Mistrust

Bloomberg: Inside Operation Warp Speed’s $18 Billion Sprint for a Vaccine (Baker/Koons, 10/29).

CNBC: Moderna says it’s preparing global launch of Covid vaccine as it takes in $1.1 billion in deposits (Lovelace, 10/29).

Financial Times: Vaccine bond sale raises $500m to fund immunization programs (Stubbington, 10/30).

Financial Times: Moderna rakes in over $1bn in deposits for potential Covid vaccine (Kuchler, 10/29).

New York Times: Gilead’s Covid-19 Drug Is Mediocre. It Will Be a Blockbuster Anyway (Thomas, 10/29).

POLITICO: The Covid vaccine’s tricky politics (Paun, 10/29).

Reuters: Under pressure, WHO plans COVID-19 vaccine insurance scheme for poor nations (Guarascio, 10/29).

SciDev.Net: Vaccine mistrust threatens COVID immunity (Castilhos, 10/29).

Washington Post: The Health 202: Biden could take over the largest vaccine effort in U.S. history (Cunningham/Ellerbeck, 10/29).

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Women Necessary For Peace, Progress, Yet Still No Equality In Peace Negotiations, U.N. Women Head Says; U.K. Announces Guidance To Protect Women Peace Builders

AP: U.N.: After 20 years, no equality for women in peace talks
“The head of the U.N. agency promoting gender equality told the 20th anniversary commemoration of a resolution demanding equal participation for women in peace negotiations that its implementation has failed, declaring Thursday that women still remain ‘systematically excluded’ from talks to end conflicts where men make decisions affecting their lives…” (Lederer, 10/29).

Devex: FCDO announces guidance to protect women peace builders
“The U.K. government has announced what it says is the first international guidance developed to protect female peace builders, as the world approaches the 20th anniversary of the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 — which stressed the importance of women in conflict prevention…” (Worley, 10/30).

The Guardian: Russia makes bid to water down U.N. commitments on women’s rights in conflict
“Russia has introduced a new U.N. Security Council resolution that could threaten the rights of women in conflict by attempting to water down previously agreed commitments on human rights…” (Ford, 10/29).

U.N. News: Guterres to Security Council: Women leaders ‘essential to peace and progress for all’
“Women continue to be under-represented in key decision-making over the battle against COVID-19, the chief of the U.N. gender empowerment agency said on Thursday, addressing the Security Council, adding that the situation is even ‘worse for women in conflict areas.’ ‘In war zones and everywhere in the world,’ individuals are ‘calling for inclusion and representation, which is one of the main reasons why so many ordinary people are taking to the streets, organizing protest, and raising their voices,’ U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka emphasized to the 15-member body…” (10/29).

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Humanitarian Responses In Africa Must Collaborate More To Fight Food Insecurity In Africa, Speakers At FAO Conference Say

Devex: FAO calls for collaboration to fight food insecurity in Africa
“Food insecurity is on the rise across the African continent, fueled by conflict, climate change, economic slowdowns, pests, and the COVID-19 pandemic. But this trend could be turned around if humanitarian responses were managed differently, according to speakers at the 31st session of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Regional Conference for Africa, which was held virtually this week. Humanitarian responses often operate in silos from development efforts and not enough is done to forecast risk and build resilience to shocks in populations, experts said. This approach only creates short-term solutions to food insecurity…” (Jerving, 10/29).

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Child Malnutrition At Record Levels, Health System Collapsing In Yemen, U.N. Warns

Reuters: Child malnutrition at record highs in parts of Yemen: U.N. survey
“Parts of Yemen are suffering record levels of acute child malnutrition, with nearly 100,000 children now at risk of dying, heightening warnings that the country is approaching a dire food security crisis, a U.N. report and officials said on Tuesday…” (10/27).

VOA News: Yemen’s Collapsing Health System Unable to Cope with Disease Upsurge
“The World Health Organization warns nearly 18 million people in Yemen are unable to get treatment for deadly diseases because years of war, economic distress and a chronic shortage of money have led to a collapse of the country’s healthcare system. … WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic says that for three years, appalling socio-economic conditions in Yemen have caused a spiraling of deadly diseases including the worst cholera outbreak in modern times, as well as epidemics of diphtheria, dengue, measles, and malaria…” (Schlein, 10/29).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: Bangladeshi floating hospital treats flood-ravaged community (Alam, 10/30).

Devex: Can repurposing masks to detect child TB work? (Ravelo, 10/30).

Devex: DFAT backtracks on controversial budget decision (Cornish, 10/29).

The Economist: How covid-19 hinders the fight against malaria (10/31).

The Guardian: Women Deliver racism investigation verdict described as a ‘slap in the face’ (Ford, 10/30).

The Guardian: National lockdowns should be backup plan on Covid, says WHO envoy (Pidd, 10/29).

Nature: New polio vaccine poised to get emergency WHO approval (Irwin, 10/29).

U.N. News: COVID-19 robs children in poor countries of nearly four months of school (10/29).

U.N. News: Caribbean vital to tackling COVID-19, climate change, U.N. chief tells regional leaders (10/29).

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Editorials and Opinions

Americans Believe In Global Cooperation, So Should U.S. Foreign Policy, Former World Bank President Writes In Opinion Piece

Financial Times: Americans are still internationalists at heart
Robert Zoellick, former World Bank president and author

“…Americans are globalizers. Two-thirds believe globalization benefits the U.S. … If Joe Biden becomes the next U.S. president, he will face an immense domestic agenda … Mr. Biden’s foreign policy team should draw upon the domestic agenda to shape a complementary international plan. For example, in addition to rejoining the World Health Organization, the U.S. should urge the World Bank and regional development banks to partner with the WHO and developing countries to assist with the logistics, cold storage, distribution, and community health systems necessary to vaccinate the vulnerable. The U.S. should launch initiatives such as George W. Bush’s to counter the HIV-AIDS epidemic, malaria, and tuberculosis in Africa. … If a new administration rebuilds at home and revitalizes alliances abroad, the U.S. will be better prepared to face the two biggest challenges: the future of free societies and China” (10/29).

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U.S. Policy Should Support Women's, Girls' Reproductive Health, Rights, Opinion Piece Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: OPINION: From the Global Gag Rule to the Geneva Consensus, women’s bodies bear the brunt
Banchiamlack Dessalegn, regional director for East and Southern Africa for Marie Stopes International

“With the U.S. presidential elections just days away, it is hard to miss the growing efforts of the Trump administration to roll back reproductive rights. From the expanded Global Gag Rule, to Amy Coney Barrett’s supreme court confirmation and last week’s Geneva Consensus Declaration, with the U.S. administration asking countries to sign ‘that there is no international right to abortion,’ the fight for reproductive rights and gender equality is far from over. … Over the last four years, women have faced continuous attacks on their reproductive freedom, and while the future of the Global Gag Rule remains uncertain, U.S. policy on abortion continues to impact women around the world. Despite these attempts, every day in the countries where we work, we see defiance, solidarity and resilience, with advocates, healthcare providers, and women themselves refusing to let U.S. policy dictate abortion access. In my region, we have seen huge strides to increase access, through the political commitment and partnership between African Ministries of Health and other governmental and non-governmental partners globally. … At the end of the day, U.S. policy does not just harm access to contraception and safe abortion, but blocks women and girls’ full participation in educational, economic, and political opportunities too. Whoever wins next week, we cannot abandon long-held commitments to uphold reproductive choice, and all eyes will be on the next president to support women to access the care they need, safely and with dignity” (10/29).

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Food-Related Policies, Agricultural, Market Practices Need To Change For Africa To Be Able To Feed 10B People By 2050, Opinion Piece Says

News24: OPINION | Africa will not be able to feed 10 billion people by 2050
Ethel Phiri, lecturer in the Department of Agronomy at the Faculty of AgriSciences at Stellenbosch University, and colleagues

“…The idea that Africa will feed the world by 2050 is based on the premise that it has over 60% of uncultivated arable land that can be used to grow food for the global population. There is no doubt that many people in Africa gain most of their caloric intake from cereal grains, and having it as the leading producer of cereal grains for export to the rest of the world should be feasible. … However, the agricultural intensification of these staple crops and their consumption have not reduced poverty and malnutrition, especially in underdeveloped countries. … As we observe Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (30 October), it’s important to realize that before 2050, African governments and the African Union must develop policies that will empower small-scale farmers and individuals producing for informal markets. … We believe three things need to happen before Africa can feed the world. Firstly, governments should create fiscal incentives that would allow for an increase in the production and accessibility of healthy foods by creating links between consumers and producers. Secondly, small-scale farmers and producers should be incentivized to produce highly nutritious foods. … Thirdly, the nutritional quality of the supply of food should be included in policy objectives across the supply chain and formal avenues should be created for civil society to participate and engage in economic policymaking that will affect food supply, as well as policies directed at food and nutrition security” (10/30).

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More Systemic Crises Require Humanitarian Aid System To Change, Opinion Piece Says

New Humanitarian: Crises have changed. Can the aid industry?
Lydia Poole, independent consultant and researcher focused on reform of the international aid financing system

“The humanitarian system has developed to respond to geographically contained and separate crises that are usually a long-haul flight from the centers of power and wealth that sustain it. But that is no longer how crises work. If you didn’t believe in systemic crises before, hopefully you do now — because like the COVID-19 virus, crises have jumped the species barrier and we don’t know how to contain them. The humanitarian system isn’t broken, or broke. But it is hopelessly ill prepared for our times, out of ideas, and running out of time. … If we are going to break out of our disappointing default — incremental change — we will need to address some of the constraints outlined here. … Open up the system to new ideas and challenge. … Ditch the crowd-sourced and consensus-based processes. … Be willing to think through the impossible. … Be willing to think through the impossible. … Be prepared to challenge the purpose of aid…” (10/29).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Think Global Health Publishes Posts Related To COVID-19 And Politics, Vaccine Race, Surgery Scale-Up

Think Global Health: Holding Incumbents Accountable: COVID-19 at the Ballot Box
Samantha Kiernan, research associate on global health, economics, and development at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and Caroline Kantis, graduate student studying security policy at the Elliott School and research associate on global health at CFR (10/29).

Think Global Health: COVID-19 Has a Strong Chance of Winning on November 3
Christopher Troeger, doctoral student at the University of Washington and pre-doctoral research assistant at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) (10/28).

Think Global Health: Britain’s Moral Bankruptcy Over COVID-19 Vaccines
William A. Haseltine, chair and president of ACCESS Health International (10/27).

Think Global Health: Scaling up Surgery and Anesthesia, Post-Coronavirus
Craig McClain, pediatric anesthesiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and founding faculty member of the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues (10/26).

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Blog Posts, Release Address Issues Facing Women Globally, Including Maternal Health In Africa, Risk Of Trafficking Amid COVID-19

Global Citizen: 3 of the Biggest Issues Facing Expectant Mothers in Africa
Khanyi Mlaba, writer and editor at Global Citizen in South Africa (10/29).

U.N. Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights: Children, women, migrants all at increased risk of exploitation and trafficking during second COVID wave, U.N. expert warns (10/28).

World Economic Forum: Are countries doing enough to support women through the pandemic?
Lucy Foster, writer with Formative Content (10/29).

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Releases Address Issues Related To COVID-19 Vaccine Development, Future Delivery

Médecins Sans Frontières: MSF responds to Gavi’s intent to purchase COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (10/29).

Sabin Vaccine Institute: JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. to Establish COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project (10/28).

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CSIS Releases Latest Essays From 'Reset The Table' Series On Food Security

CSIS: The U.S. Government Must Continue Leading on Overseas Humanitarian Aid. The World Depends on It. Literally.
David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (10/28).

CSIS: Beyond Food Aid: Priorities to Address Humanitarian Food Crises
Dina Esposito, vice president of technical leadership, and Olga Petryniak, senior director of resilience and food security, both with Mercy Corps (10/28).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC MMWR Article Discusses Global Dracunculiasis, Eradication Progress

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)”: Progress Toward Global Eradication of Dracunculiasis, January 2019 — June 2020
Donald Hopkins, former director of health programs and current special adviser for Guinea worm eradication at The Carter Center, and colleagues, discuss global dracunculiasis (Guinea worm disease) and current progress in eradicating the disease (10/30).

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New Issue Of NIH Fogarty International Center's 'Global Health Matters' Newsletter Available Online

NIH Fogarty International Center: Fogarty International Center’s Global Health Matters
The most recent issue of the Fogarty International Center’s newsletter contains various articles addressing global health topics, including one about a webinar during which several leaders of coronavirus response teams in Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Rwanda presented best practices of COVID-19 contact tracing. Another article and an opinion piece discuss data science and health innovation in Africa (September/October 2020).

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From KFF

KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of October 30, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (10/30).

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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