KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

About 10% Of Global Population May Have Had Coronavirus; 70% Of Cases In Only 10 Countries, WHO Says

NPR: 10% Of Global Population May Have Contracted The Coronavirus, WHO Says
“About 10% of the global population may have been infected by the coronavirus, according to a senior World Health Organization official. It’s an estimate that’s far higher than the total of global confirmed cases reported by governments. At the same time, it would mean that most of the world’s population is still vulnerable to getting infected and this pandemic is far from over, the WHO’s head of emergencies Dr. Michael Ryan said Monday…” (Beaubien, 10/5).

U.N. News: 70 percent of COVID cases located in just 10 countries, WHO reports
“…Speaking to a special session of the agency’s Executive Board, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said 10 countries account for 70 percent of all reported cases and deaths, and just three countries account for half. ‘Not all countries have responded the same way, and not all countries have been affected the same way,’ he told the 34 members…” (10/5).

Additional coverage of the WHO’s COVID-19 estimates is available from AP, BBC, The Hill, and Reuters.

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Pandemic Disrupts Mental Health Services, WHO Says; Hundreds Of Thousands With Mental Health Conditions Being Chained In 60 Countries, HRW Report Shows

The Guardian: Hundreds of thousands with mental health conditions being chained, says charity
“Hundreds of thousands of people with mental health conditions in 60 countries are still being chained, according to a comprehensive and damning new study. Human Rights Watch says that men, women, and children — some as young as 10 — are regularly shackled or locked in confined spaces for weeks, months, and even years, across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. The report, Living in Chains: Shackling of People with Psychosocial Disabilities Worldwide, examines how people with mental health conditions are often shackled against their will by families in their own homes or in overcrowded and unsanitary institutions because of widespread stigma and a lack of mental health services…” (Beaumont, 10/5).

U.N. News: COVID-19 disrupting critical mental health services, WHO warns
“The global pandemic has disrupted critical mental health services in 93 percent of the countries it surveyed, underscoring the devastating impact of COVID-19 and highlighting an urgent need to scale up funding, the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) has said. Announcing the findings on Monday, the U.N. health agency also said that the pandemic has increased the need for the vital services…” (10/5).

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26 Countries Led By China Urge Western Nations To Lift Sanctions To Support Effective COVID-19 Responses

AP: 26 countries urge Western sanctions lifting to tackle virus
“China and 25 other nations on Monday called for the immediate lifting of sanctions by the United States and Western countries to ensure an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking on behalf of the 26 countries at a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee, China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun said ‘unilateral coercive measures’ violate the U.N. Charter, multilateralism, and impede human rights by hindering ‘the well-being of the population in the affected countries’ and undermining the right to health. … Among the countries that backed the statement were half a dozen that face sanctions by the United States, European Union, or other Western nations including Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela…” (Lederer, 10/6).

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White House Overrules FDA's Standards For COVID-19 Vaccine Emergency Authorization; CDC Releases Update On Airborne Transmission

POLITICO: White House cited drug companies’ objections in overruling FDA’s vaccine standards
“A White House decision to halt release of new standards for emergency authorization of a Covid-19 vaccine came after officials close to President Donald Trump told the FDA that the pharmaceutical industry had objected to the tougher requirements, according to three people with knowledge of the situation. The White House cited the private-sector opposition as a chief reason for blocking the guidelines, which aim to hold companies’ vaccines to a higher bar for safety and effectiveness and would likely push any authorization beyond Election Day, they said…” (Cancryn, 10/5).

Washington Post: CDC says airborne transmission plays a role in coronavirus spread in a long-awaited update after a website error last month
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged Monday that people can sometimes become infected with the novel coronavirus through airborne transmission, especially in enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation. The long-awaited update to the agency web page explaining how the virus spreads represents an official acknowledgment of growing evidence that under certain conditions, people farther than six feet apart can become infected by tiny droplets and particles that float in the air for minutes and hours, and that they play a role in the pandemic. The update follows an embarrassing incident last month when the agency removed a draft that had not gone through proper review and was posted in error…” (Sun/Guarino, 10/5).

Additional coverage of the White House’s overruling of FDA guidance and the CDC’s update on the airborne transmission of the coronavirus is available from The Hill and New York Times.

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U.S. Lawmakers Call On GAO To Review World Bank's International Development Association Ahead Of Negotiations Over Next Replenishment

Devex: U.S. lawmakers raise financing concerns about World Bank’s fund for poorest countries
“Two Democratic lawmakers have called on the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review the ‘financial viability’ of the World Bank’s fund for low-income countries, the International Development Association. Rep. Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, sent a letter to GAO last month asking that the office ‘analyze IDA’s financing model, financial viability, and risk management.’ … The letter … requests a review to generate more information that can help the U.S. Congress perform its oversight duties and to prepare for the upcoming negotiations over IDA’s next replenishment. The lawmakers’ concern is that if more countries experience debt distress due to COVID-19 and other financial pressures — something the bank has frequently warned about — they could struggle to repay their IDA loans…” (Igoe, 10/6).

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Trump's COVID-19 Treatment Exemplifies Inequalities In Access To Care

STAT: ‘Covid is all about privilege’: Trump’s treatment underscores vast inequalities in access to care
“As the symptoms of Covid-19 took hold, President Trump got an infusion of an experimental antibody cocktail and was whisked by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. When his oxygen levels dipped, he was quickly put on a steroid normally given to patients with severe cases of the disease. At every step of the way, the president has had a team of expert physicians carefully monitoring his care. That experience is a world away from the stressful waiting game most patients wade through after a positive test. … If the president’s privileged treatment is understandable given his prominence, the contrast is no less stark for millions of Americans who have faced down Covid-19 in their homes or local hospitals, where barriers to cutting-edge care do not simply melt at the mere mention of their names or job titles…” (Ross et al., 10/6).

Additional coverage of Trump’s release from the hospital and downplaying of the novel coronavirus is available from AP and Washington Post (2).

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New York Times Examines Failure Of Western Nations To Implement Effective Contact Tracing Initiatives

New York Times: Contact Tracing, Key to Reining In the Virus, Falls Flat in the West
“As the coronavirus stampeded across Europe and the United States this spring, governments made their depleted citizens a tantalizing promise: Soon, legions of disease detectives would hunt down anyone exposed to the virus, confining them to their homes and letting everyone else get on with their lives. Nearly eight months on, as a web of new infections spreads across Europe and the United States, that promise has nearly evaporated. … Beholden to privacy rules, Western officials largely trusted people to hand over names to contact tracers. But that trust was not repaid, in large part because governments neglected services that were crucial to winning people’s cooperation: a fast and accurate testing system, and guarantees that people would be housed, fed, and paid while they isolated…” (Mueller et al., 10/3).

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USAID Announces $100M Program To Address Zoonotic Viral Disease Threats

Homeland Preparedness News: USAID outlines zoonotic viral disease initiative
“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has selected Tufts University to spearhead a $100 million program to assess and address zoonotic viral disease threats such as SARS-CoV-2. … Strategies to Prevent Spillover (STOP Spillover) builds on the university’s expertise in One Health — the interrelated health of humans, animals, the environment, and many related fields. The work scope is slated to involve wildlife and human disease experts from both the university and organizations across the globe…” (Clark, 10/5).

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GPMB Co-Chair Brundtland Discusses Need For Greater Focus On Global Health Security In Telegraph Interview

The Telegraph: Health security must take a bigger place on global agenda, says former WHO chief
“Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland served three terms as prime minister of Norway and was director general (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003 when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) pandemic emerged in China. She is now co-chair of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, which provides an independent appraisal for leaders, key policymakers, and the world on preparedness and response capacity for disease outbreaks. Its inaugural report last year warned the world was ‘grossly unprepared’ for pandemics and its second report, published earlier this month, said financial and political investments in preparedness have been insufficient. She spoke to the Telegraph about the global response to the disease…” (Gulland, 10/5).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: U.K. hit by new virus test failing, finds 16,000 extra cases (Pylas, 10/5).

Borgen Magazine: 10 Need to Know Facts About TB in Developing Countries (Carter, 10/5).

CNN: Nigerian scientists develop cheaper and faster Covid-19 test kits (Busari/Sunday, 10/3).

CNN: The race inside Russia’s coronavirus vaccine laboratory (Ullah/Chance, 10/5).

Devex: Maternity Matters: Lessons on supporting local private sector providers (10/6).

Devex: Does a decline in Australian aid communications reveal a lack of political leadership? (Cornish, 10/6).

Financial Times: Ministers to be questioned over U.K. coronavirus vaccination target (Gross/Pickard, 10/5).

Financial Times: E.U. fast-tracks process for Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine (Miller/Mancini, 10/6).

New Humanitarian: Inside Story: How we broke the Ebola sexual abuse scandal (Dodds, 10/5).

PRI: Abortion increasingly hard to access in Turkey (Nawa, 10/5).

Reuters: ‘A matter of survival’: Lebanon’s hospitals on the brink as COVID cases surge (Jalabi et al., 10/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Address Various Aspects Of COVID-19, Including Impacts On Addressing Poverty In South Asia, Global Balance Of Power; Vaccine Access In Africa; Trump's Attitude Toward Virus

The Conversation: South Asia: how to ensure progress on reducing poverty isn’t reversed by coronavirus
Antonio Savoia, senior lecturer in development economics at the University of Manchester, and colleagues (10/6).

IPS: Will COVID-19 Change the Global Balance of Power?
Daud Khan, former United Nations official, and Leila Yasmine Khan, independent writer and editor (10/5).

Nature: COVID-19 vaccines: how to ensure Africa has access
John N. Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues (10/6).

Washington Post: Covid-19 is a fearsome killer. Trump’s magical thinking will not change that
Editorial Board (10/5).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

3M 2020 State Of Science Index Survey Shows Decline In Science Skepticism

3M: State of Science Index Survey
“…In wave three of the 3M State of Science Index, science skepticism officially became a trend. Based on global data from the Index, the trajectory of skepticism increased over three consecutive years (29% in 2018 to 32% in 2019 to 35% [in] 2020 Pre-Pandemic). But in summer 2020, against the backdrop of COVID-19, the trend reversed itself. A world that was becoming increasingly skeptical of science appears to be waking up to its relevance and importance. Today, skepticism, at 28%, has declined for the first time in three years…” (October 2020).

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Blog Post Discusses CEPI's Efforts To Standardize COVID-19 Vaccine Development

CEPI: Why and how do we harmonize assessment of COVID-19 vaccine trials?
Jodie Rogers, communications manager at CEPI, writes, “We spoke to Valentina Bernasconi, Preclinical and Immunology Scientist in CEPI’s Vaccine R&D Team and Project Leader of the Centralised Laboratory Network, about the role of biological standardization in vaccine development, CEPI’s work within this area, and how the new global lab network will operate…” (10/2).

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Forthcoming Analysis Assesses Quality Of Health Care, Health Worker Knowledge Across African Countries

Center for Global Development: What Health Workers in Africa Know, What They Have to Work With, and How To Translate That into Quality of Care
Laura Di Giorgio, health economist at the World Bank, and colleagues discuss findings from a forthcoming analysis that assesses the quality of health care across African countries. The authors write, “This analysis demonstrates that improving health worker knowledge must be a top priority for health systems. Training programs have shown mixed results, so what that probably looks like is a combination of better training — both pre-service and in-service — along with better hiring and working conditions that attract bright candidates. In the absence of health provider know-how, there are limits to what other improvements will deliver” (10/5).

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From the U.S. Government

HHS Assistant Secretary Participates In WHO Executive Board Special Session On COVID-19, Provides Update On Implementation Of Resolution WHA73.1 On COVID-19 Response

HHS: HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir to Participate in the World Health Organization Executive Board Special Session on COVID-19 (10/5).

HHS: Statement from Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett P. Giroir: Update on Implementation of Resolution WHA73.1 on the COVID-19 Response (10/5).

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CRS Report Outlines Resources For Tracking Federal COVID-19 Spending

Congressional Research Service: Resources for Tracking Federal COVID-19 Spending
This CRS report provides sources for tracking federal spending on COVID-19 relief and assistance and includes links to and information on government sources detailing this spending (10/1).

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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 6, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (10/6).

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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