KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Harris, Pence Discuss COVID-19 Vaccine, Other Pandemic Issues In Vice Presidential Debate

STAT: Harris and Pence square off on whether — and when — to trust a Covid-19 vaccine
“Sen. Kamala Harris of California made clear Wednesday that President Trump’s word, alone, would not be enough to earn her trust in the safety and effectiveness of a future Covid-19 vaccine. Vice President Mike Pence’s quick retort implored her to ‘please stop undermining confidence in a vaccine.’ Harris’ statement, which came during the only vice presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle, underscores the central role that Covid-19 vaccine development has played on the 2020 campaign trail…” (Facher, 10/7).

Additional coverage of comments on COVID-19 made during the vice presidential debate and the Trump administration’s pandemic response is available from The Hill, POLITICO, Roll Call, and Vox.

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News Outlets Examine Trump's Attitude On Face Masks; Administration's Defunding Of Virus Research; NEJM Editorial Denouncing White House Pandemic Response

The Hill: New England Journal of Medicine blasts Trump officials’ response to virus, calls for new leaders
“The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, in an unprecedented editorial, denounced the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and called for voting out ‘current political leaders’ who are ‘dangerously incompetent.’ The harshly worded editorial is the first time the prestigious medical journal, which usually stays out of politics, has weighed in on an election…” (Sullivan, 10/7).

NPR: Ironic Twist: In Spring Trump Halted Research Key To COVID-19 Drug He’s Now Taken
“…Beginning in 2014, virus experts in the U.S. tested remdesivir against some of the bat strains [of coronaviruses] that EcoHealth Alliance had discovered. The results were promising — helping to elevate remdesivir’s profile within pharmaceutical research such that, when the current coronavirus hit, the drug was one of the first options scientists proposed trying against it. Yet in April the National Institutes of Health abruptly terminated funding for the China bat research project with no clear explanation. In the weeks earlier, Trump administration officials had been pushing a largely discredited theory that the Chinese lab that EcoHealth Alliance was partnered with — the Wuhan Institute of Virology — had accidentally released the virus causing COVID-19. And at a White House press conference days before the funding was pulled, Trump erroneously implied that the entirety of the money had gone to the Wuhan Institute and promised that his administration would take action on the issue…” (Aizenman, 10/7).

Washington Post: Trump’s resistance to face masks, even while he is infected with coronavirus, sets him apart from other world leaders
“Among world leaders, President Trump is increasingly isolated on the issue of face masks. After he cast doubt for months on masks’ efficacy in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, his resistance to White House precautions even after contracting the virus seemed to forestall the possibility of an about-face. While many world leaders have supported the use of face masks and have chosen to wear them during public appearances — despite, in some cases, earlier reluctance of their own — Trump has delivered mixed, sometimes contradictory guidance, and has often appeared without a mask, donning one in public for the first time in July…” (Noack, 10/7).

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WHO Executive Board Discusses COVID-19 Responses, Vaccine Allocation, U.S. Withdrawal

Devex: Vaccine allocation and WHO reform take center stage as WHO executive board meets
“During the two-day, semivirtual session of the World Health Organization executive board meeting this week, officials gave member states an overview of the COVID-19 response to date and provided updates on the changes that have taken place within the organization to support coronavirus response efforts. These changes include the creation of WHO’s science division — which initiated the Solidarity Trial to compare COVID-19 treatments and assess their effectiveness — and the new emergency preparedness division under the WHO Health Emergencies Program. Member states also asked questions on vaccine allocation and raised concerns about the planned U.S. withdrawal from the organization. Missing from the event, however, were the voices of civil society organizations, which expressed concern over their exclusion from the discussions…” (Ravelo, 10/7).

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COVID-19 Pandemic Shifting Extreme Poverty To More Urban, Better-Educated Populations, World Bank Report Says

Devex: COVID-19 is changing the face of extreme poverty
“Not only will the COVID-19 pandemic force upward of 100 million people into extreme poverty, but it will also reshape what extreme poverty looks like, according to a new analysis from the World Bank. According to the bank’s latest projections, people who see their incomes fall below $1.90 per day — the international poverty line — due to the pandemic are more likely to be ‘urban, better educated, and less likely to work in agriculture than those living in extreme poverty before COVID-19.’ The bank’s ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2020’ report, released on Wednesday, labels this group ‘the new poor’…” (Igoe, 10/7).

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Global Fragility Strategy Expected By Month's End, U.S. State Department Official Says

Devex: Global fragility strategy to come this month, U.S. State Department says
“After missing last month’s deadline, the Trump administration expects to release a full global fragility strategy before the end of October, Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations Denise Natali told Devex in an interview. Natali’s department, along with the State Department Office of Foreign Assistance, is leading the implementation of the Global Fragility Act, which passed Congress in December…” (Welsh, 10/8).

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2M Stillbirths Occur Each Year, Most In Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia, U.N. Report Shows

AP: 2 million stillbirths every year, pandemic might worsen toll
“The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and partners said there are about 2 million stillbirths every year, mostly in the developing world, according to the first-ever global estimates published Thursday. The U.N. health agency said that last year three of every four stillbirths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa or Southern Asia. It defined a stillbirth as a baby born with no signs of life at 28 weeks of pregnancy or later…” (10/7).

U.N. News: Stillbirths: An unnecessary, unspeakable tragedy — U.N. report
“A stillborn baby is delivered every 16 seconds, which translates into nearly two million infants over the course of a year that never took their first breath, according to a new U.N. report published on Thursday. A Neglected Tragedy: The Global Burden of Stillbirths, released by the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, and the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), reveals that 84 percent of these grievous episodes occur in low- and lower-middle-income countries…” (10/8).

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Progress On Gender Equality Remains Uneven 25 Years After Beijing, Pandemic Could Impact Gains, Experts Say

Devex: 25 years after Beijing, what’s changed on gender equality? Not enough, experts say.
“Twenty-five years after world leaders agreed upon the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, progress on gender equality remains uneven. The pandemic could now serve as a dangerous tipping point, experts say, threatening ‘major reversals’ on women’s leadership and child marriage, among other issues. … More than 100 countries recommitted to the Beijing Platform for Action during a high-level U.N. meeting last week marking the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women…” (Lieberman, 10/8).

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Forced Marriage Considered Form Of Human Trafficking, U.N. Report Says

U.N. News: Report reveals linkages between human trafficking and forced marriage
“Across the world, girls as young as 12 are being forced or tricked into marrying men who exploit them for sex and domestic work, in what the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has called an ‘under-reported, global form of human trafficking.’ The agency has published a report which documents the interlinkages between trafficking in persons and marriage, and provides steps for governments and other authorities to strike back…” (10/7).

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Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer A. Doudna Awarded Nobel Prize In Chemistry For Developing Crispr Gene-Editing Tool

Wall Street Journal: Nobel Prize in Chemistry Is Awarded for Crispr Gene-Editing Technology
“Two scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for discovering a powerful tool for genome editing that has enabled relatively quick and easy modification of the building blocks of life and promises new drugs for a range of diseases. France’s Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer A. Doudna shared the prize awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. Only five other women had ever received the award since its inception in 1901, bringing the total to seven out of 185 individuals…” (Abbott/Sugden, 10/7).

Additional coverage of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry is available from Nature, New York Times, TIME, and Washington Post.

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: Germany, which had virus under control, sees a jump in cases (10/8).

AP: Hard-hit Peru’s costly bet on cheap COVID-19 antibody tests (Armario/Chen, 10/7).

AP: ‘Catastrophically short of doctors’: Virus wallops Ukraine (Chernov/Karmanau, 10/8).

BBC News: Coronavirus: Iran sets new record for deaths amid ‘third wave’ (10/7).

CNBC: Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, says global leadership during the pandemic has been ‘inadequate’ (Bryer, 10/8).

Devex: How Senegal has set the standard on COVID-19 (Chakamba, 10/8).

Financial Times: Lilly seeks emergency approval for Covid drug (Kuchler, 10/7).

Financial Times: Logisticians grapple to map out ‘cold chain’ for vaccine campaign (Mancini, 10/7).

The Guardian: West and central Africa’s closed schools putting children at risk, UNICEF warns (Hodal, 10/8).

The Guardian: Sabrina Dhowre Elba: ‘The old idea of aid is dead’ (McVeigh, 10/8).

New Humanitarian: Funding, fuel, and ‘famine’: Unpacking Yemen’s overlapping crises (Slemrod/Parker, 10/7).

NPR: New Zealand Declares Victory Over Coronavirus Again, Lifts Auckland Restrictions (Peñaloza, 10/7).

Science: Newly discovered viruses suggest ‘German measles’ jumped from animals to humans (Gibbons, 10/7).

Washington Post: In the U.S., states — not science — decide what counts as a coronavirus outbreak (Mooney et al., 10/7).

WIRED: A Global Data Effort Probes Whether Covid Causes Diabetes (Molteni, 10/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Provide Critical Assessment Of Trump Administration's Response To COVID-19 Pandemic

NEJM: Dying in a Leadership Vacuum
Editorial Board (10/8).

Scientific American: Trump’s Illness and the Need for a Reset on U.S. Coronavirus Policy
Peter Hotez, physician, microbiologist, professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and dean at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine (10/7).

Washington Post: A public health giant gives a scathing indictment of Trump’s pandemic response
Editorial Board (10/7).

Washington Post: I couldn’t sit idly and watch people die from Trump’s chaotic, politicized pandemic response, so I resigned
Rick Bright, immunologist, vaccine researcher, and former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (10/7).

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Declaration Of Africa's Elimination Of Wild Poliovirus Is Premature, Researcher Argues

UNDARK: Opinion: Why It’s Premature to Declare Africa Free of Wild Polio
Jordan Schermerhorn, researcher working on infectious diseases in fragile states and conflict settings throughout sub-Saharan Africa

“…[G]iven the extreme inaccessibility caused by conflict, low vaccination rates, and logistical constraints that limit disease surveillance in many parts of rural Africa — a situation only made worse by Covid-19 — the declaration that wild poliovirus has been eliminated from the continent is premature. The rush to declare victory reflects the chasm between high-level rhetoric and the day-to-day reality of life in Nigeria. … [E]radication programs inherently operate on the fringes of detection capacity, and northeast Nigeria poses unique challenges. … Despite these red flags, declarations of success have continued, ensuring that any future wild polio cases in Nigeria — or elsewhere in Africa — will be framed as a setback at best, or hidden at worst. A four-year absence of reported polio cases from Borno [in northeast Nigeria] is insufficient evidence that wild poliovirus has been eliminated in Africa. Ignoring this reality may prove a shortsighted misstep for polio eradication: Any complacency in prevention efforts could allow the disease to come roaring back out of hiding. Senior leaders in the effort should not be so easily tempted by the lure of prematurely declaring victory” (10/8).

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U.N. Should Establish Independent Body To Address Sexual Abuse, Hold Staff Accountable, U.N. Whistleblower Says

New Humanitarian: Why the U.N. must set up an independent body to tackle sexual abuse
Anders Kompass, Swedish diplomat and civil servant

“Six years ago, I became a U.N. whistleblower, intervening to stop the sexual abuse of children by soldiers in Central African Republic. The revelation led to an independent investigation into how the U.N. had handled the affair and, in 2015, to a damning report that identified severe structural and systemic weaknesses within the U.N. system. At the end of it, in 2016, I resigned from the United Nations, making a final call for structural change in the ethical standards of the organization. Since then, I have looked from a distance as Sweden’s ambassador in Central America, still hoping that the U.N. would learn from what had happened, and change. Last week, though, The New Humanitarian and the Thomson Reuters Foundation published a one-year investigation into (yet another) sex abuse scandal involving the United Nations. I read the details with a bone-chilling feeling of déjà-vu coursing through me — the abuse, the denial, the internal closing of the ranks, the excuses, the passing of the buck: It had all happened before. … So, allow me to make a few suggestions for consideration by the United Nations…” (10/8).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Releases Address Various Topics Related To COVID-19, Including Humanitarian Crisis Amid Pandemic In Ethiopia; New Guidance On Reducing Stigma, Discrimination In COVID-19 Response; Role Of WASH Partnership In Burundi

BMJ Opinion: Hanad Ahmed: Covid-19 has shown us we need to ingrain values of equality into medical education
Hanad Ahmed, faculty of medicine at the University of Southampton (10/7).

International Rescue Committee: Twelve fold increase in Ethiopia COVID-19 cases, severe weather and locusts creating massive need in Ethiopia, warns IRC (10/7).

UNAIDS: 26 organizations to receive funding to address HIV and COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean (10/7).

UNAIDS: UNAIDS issues guidance on reducing stigma and discrimination during COVID-19 responses (10/8).

World Bank: Burundi’s “Blue Soap” partnership: A multi-partner alliance helps citizens stem COVID-19
Veronique Kabongo, country manager for Burundi at the World Bank (10/6).

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U.S. Can Draw From Global Lessons To Address COVID-19 Health Disparities, FHI 360 Experts Say

FHI 360: What can the United States learn from other countries to tackle disparities?
Otto Chabikuli, director of global health, population, and nutrition at FHI 360, and Timothy Mastro, chief science officer at FHI 360, discuss how the U.S. can draw on international best practices to address COVID-19 health disparities (10/7).

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FT Health Highlights Vaccine Nationalism, Features Interview With Novartis Expert Discussing Bond Focused On Access To Medicines

FT Health: Fighting vaccine nationalism
The Financial Times’ monthly global health and finance newsletter highlights vaccine nationalism and access to vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic and features an interview with Patrice Matchaba, group head of global health at Novartis, who discusses a sustainability-linked bond to increase access to medicines in lower- and middle-income countries. The newsletter also provides a roundup of global health-related news stories (Jack, 10/7).

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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 8, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (10/8).

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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