KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

COVID-19 Pandemic Contributes To Loss Of Progress In Global Health, Development Goals, Gates Foundation Report Says

Devex: How big is the SDG backslide? Gates Foundation presents new data
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a 7% increase in extreme poverty, with an additional 37 million people living below $1.90 a day, according to a new report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The fourth annual Goalkeepers report, which launched on Monday ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, draws on new data to provide what the Gates Foundation describes in a press release as ‘the most current global dataset for how the pandemic is affecting progress toward the Global Goals’…” (Cheney, 9/15).

New York Times: Gates Offers Grim Global Health Report, and Some Optimism
“…The assessment comes as the United States, stung harder by the virus than any other country, is retreating from the global health stage and seems focused primarily on saving itself. Could it ever return to its role as the world’s leader in both competence and generosity? In an interview with the New York Times, Mr. Gates devoted a half-hour to explaining why he was optimistic that it would. ‘It’s my disposition,’ he said. ‘Plus, I’ve got to call these people up and make the pitch to them that this really makes sense — and I totally, totally believe it makes sense.’ … Ultimately his goal is far more ambitious: to double American foreign aid from less than 0.25 percent of gross domestic product to 0.5 percent or more. He sees the pandemic as an opportunity to do that…” (McNeil, 9/14).

POLITICO: 25 years wiped out in 25 weeks: Pandemic sets the world back decades
“…Global action to stop the pandemic would prevent illness and deaths caused by Covid-19, but there’s more at stake: The crisis sets back strides made in global poverty, HIV transmission, malnutrition, gender equality, education, and many more areas. Even if the world manages to get the coronavirus under control soon, it could take years to claw back lost progress. ‘We’re at the real cusp moment at how you can tackle this and how long-term the effects are,’ Mark Suzman, the CEO of the Gates Foundation, told POLITICO…” (Paun, 9/14).

STAT: New report says Covid-19 pandemic has caused historic setbacks in global health
“…Progress on most of the global development metrics has been reversed in 2020. And the world, the report projects, is now perhaps irretrievably off-course to hit most of the goals by 2030. The report pointed to vaccine coverage as a good proxy for how well health systems are functioning during the pandemic. It noted that an evaluation, conducted by the foundation’s data partner, the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, found that in 2020 vaccination coverage is at levels last seen in the 1990s. The report’s stark appraisal: ‘In other words, we’ve been set back about 25 years in about 25 weeks’…” (Branswell, 9/14).

Wall Street Journal: Coronavirus Deals Setback to Global Vaccination Programs, Gates Report Finds
“…Health-care systems are also struggling to provide family-planning services, according to the report. The percentage of women of reproductive age who are able to obtain modern methods of contraception has fallen this year back to the level it was at in 2011, affecting 49 million women, according to Ms. Gates and data from the report. That could contribute to 15 million additional unplanned pregnancies world-wide this year, Ms. Gates said. ‘That’s comparable to the entire population of New York City, L.A., and Chicago all getting pregnant,’ she said…” (McKay, 9/14).

Additional coverage of the report is available from Axios, CNBC, The Guardian, Quartz, Reuters, STAT, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Xinhua.

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Trump Administration Proposes Regulation To Further Expand Mexico City Policy

The Hill: Trump administration seeks to extend Mexico City policy on abortion
“The Trump administration is looking to expand a ban on global health aid for foreign organizations that provide or promote abortions. The proposed change from the State Department would require that foreign groups receiving global health aid through contracts from the U.S. government agree to not provide or promote abortions — even with funding from other sources. The ban — called a ‘global gag rule’ by opponents — already applies to grants and cooperative agreements between the U.S. government and foreign organizations, but the proposed rule, published Monday in the Federal Register, would apply the policy to contracts, which make up about 40 percent of global health aid, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation…” (Hellmann, 9/14).

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Trump Administration Ignored NIH Evidence When Restricting Fetal Tissue Research, Democratic Lawmaker Investigation Shows

POLITICO: Dem probe: Trump administration ignored NIH evidence on fetal tissue
“The Trump administration’s efforts to curtail the use of fetal tissue in federal research was driven by political considerations despite health officials’ promise to follow the science, according to new findings from a long-running investigation by senior Democratic lawmakers. The lawmakers say documents obtained through their investigation indicate that scientific evidence raised by researchers at the National Institutes of Health was ignored by political appointees as they sought to restrict fetal tissue research, a policy favored by anti-abortion groups aligned with President Donald Trump…” (Diamond, 9/14).

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Trump Health Appointee Touts Conspiracies, Makes False Accusations During Facebook Live Event; U.S. House Democrats Launch Investigation Into Reports Of Political Interference In CDC Publications

New York Times: Trump Health Aide Pushes Bizarre Conspiracies and Warns of Armed Revolt
“The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in ‘sedition’ in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election. Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a ‘resistance unit’ determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll…” (LaFraniere, 9/14).

POLITICO: Democrats launch probe into Trump officials’ Covid-report tampering
“House Democrats are launching an investigation into how Trump appointees have pressured officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change or delay scientific reports on coronavirus, citing POLITICO reporting that found political interference in the publishing process. ‘During the pandemic, experts have relied on these reports to determine how the virus spreads and who is at greatest risk,’ Rep. Jim Clyburn, chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and his Democratic colleagues write in a letter shared first with POLITICO. ‘Yet HHS officials apparently viewed these scientific reports as opportunities for political manipulation.’ … The Democrats’ investigation focuses on the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, the agency’s long-running series of scientific articles that researchers have looked to for the most current and reliable information on the coronavirus. POLITICO reported on Friday that Health and Human Services public affairs chief Michael Caputo and his scientific adviser Paul Alexander have pressured CDC officials to change the reports, in some cases retroactively, to align with President Donald Trump’s more optimistic message about the outbreak…” (Diamond, 9/14).

Additional coverage on Caputo’s comments during a live Facebook event is available from The Hill and Washington Post.

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Spread Of Conspiracy Theories Could Impact COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery, Report Warns; News Outlets Report On Vaccine Development, Research Efforts

Devex: Interactive: What COVID-19 conspiracy theories mean for vaccine delivery
“…A new report from the Global Health Security Network, ‘The COVID-19 pandemic vs. Post-Truth,’ highlights the dangers vaccine delivery may face as a growing number of conspiracy theorists — including those who believe that the vaccine will deliver microchip tracking by Bill Gates — targeting the ‘reality’ of COVID-19 become radicalized. … While social media spreads these conspiracies, politicians and other leading authority figures are helping to cement them. In the U.S., Hunt said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been forced to modify its public health guidelines in line with politicians who have ‘undermined’ the response with conspiracies about the severity, origin, and nature of COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to follow. The World Health Organization is also a target of conspiracy theories…” (Cornish, 9/15).

Financial Times: Researchers gain head start in coronavirus vaccine race (Bird, 9/14).

Nature: Scientists relieved as coronavirus vaccine trial restarts — but question lack of transparency (Cyranoski/Mallapaty, 9/14).

Reuters: Pfizer says enrolled more than 29,000 people in its COVID-19 vaccine trial (Erman, 9/14).

Reuters: China coronavirus vaccine may be ready for public in November: official (Liu/Munroe, 9/14).

Reuters: Exclusive: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial in U.S. on hold until at least midweek — sources (Steenhuysen/Taylor, 9/14).

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Experts Urge G20 Health, Finance Ministers To Fully Fund Pandemic Preparedness Efforts Ahead Of Meeting

The Telegraph: Experts urge G20 ministers to back rhetoric with resources and fully fund pandemic preparedness
“Promises to invest in pandemic preparedness to prevent a repeat of the current crisis are yet to be backed up with adequate resources, experts have warned, ahead of a meeting of G20 health and finance ministers this week. In a draft statement seen by The Telegraph and set to be published after a summit on Thursday, ministers concede that ‘major gaps still exist in global pandemic preparedness and response’ and commit to closing them. … The wording has been welcomed by commentators, who say it is the culmination of years of lobbying for governments to see health as a long-term investment, rather than an immediate cost. But there are concerns that action will fall short of the rhetoric and that the cycle of short-term thinking that has dominated approaches to global health challenges — from antimicrobial resistance to pandemic preparedness — will continue…” (Newey, 9/14).

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WHO Europe Members, Partners Pledge To Work Together On COVID-19 Response, Vaccine Development Efforts

Xinhua: Members, partners of WHO Europe pledge solidarity in response to COVID-19 crisis
“Health ministers, high-level representatives of all 53 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region and partner organizations as well as representatives from civil society gathered online on Monday to discuss major health issues, pledging solidarity in response to [the] COVID-19 crisis. A key health issue on the shortened 2-day platinum anniversary agenda at the 70th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe (RC70) which started … on Monday is the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lessons learned, both globally and regionally. … WHO Europe members and partners were unanimous in working together for a vaccine against COVID-19 and thanked the regional office for its COVID-19 response…” (9/15).

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GPMB Report Calls For U.N. Summit On, New International Framework For Global Health Preparedness, Response

Devex: High-level body calls for new global health emergency framework, ‘pandemic proof’ future
“The high-level body that warned the world of the threat of a pandemic in 2019 — and how the world was unprepared for it — has come out with new recommendations that call for a new international framework for health emergency preparedness and response. The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, co-chaired by Norway’s former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and former Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Elhadj As Sy, recommended that the heads of the United Nations, World Health Organization, and international financing institutions convene a U.N. Summit on Global Health Security in a new report published on Sept. 14…” (Ravelo, 9/15).

Additional coverage of the GPMB report is available from U.N. News and U.S. News & World Report.

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Africa's COVID-19 Cases Pass 1.35M; India's Hospitals Face Oxygen Shortage; France Tightens Restrictions On Public Activities; Turkey's Daily Death Toll Tops May Levels; Pandemic Disrupts HIV Efforts In U.S.

AFRICA

Xinhua: Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases surpass 1.35M: Africa CDC (9/15).

ASIA

BBC: Coronavirus: India faces oxygen scarcity as cases surge (Biswas, 9/14).

NPR: At Least 25 Indian Lawmakers Test Positive For Coronavirus As Parliament Reopens (Frayer, 9/14).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Women grieve stillborn babies as COVID-19 hits maternity care in rural India (Sharma/Banerji, 9/14).

Washington Post: Australia’s coronavirus ‘dictator’ enforces a drastic lockdown. He’s still popular (Patrick, 9/15).

EUROPE

AP: France tightens screws on public activities to fight COVID (9/14).

MIDDLE EAST

AP: Turkey’s virus deaths rise to levels not seen since May (9/14).

NORTH AMERICA

AP: Pandemic vs. pandemic: COVID-19 hampers fight against HIV (Thanawala, 9/14).

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More U.K. Aid Should Be Spent On Basic Health Services In World's Poorest Nations, Report Says

The Telegraph: Call for more U.K. aid to go on basic health services in world’s poorest countries
“The U.K. government is being urged to spend more aid money on basic health services in the world’s poorest countries as charities fear that vital goals such as reducing child and maternal mortality are being neglected because of Covid-19. A report by Action for Global Health, a coalition of charities including Oxfam, Save the Children, and Christian Aid, highlights how spending on global health as a proportion of the aid budget has fallen in recent years, with the amount going directly [to] basic health services dropping by half since 2013. It also warns that health is no longer one of the priority areas for the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)…” (Gulland, 9/15).

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Warring Parties In Yemen 'Severely Restricting' Flow Of Aid Into Country, HRW Report Says

AP: Report says Yemen’s warring sides ‘severely restricting’ aid
“Warring parties in Yemen’s yearslong conflict are ‘severely restricting’ the delivery of desperately needed aid as the country slides toward famine amid the coronavirus pandemic, a rights group warned on Monday. Human Rights Watch said international donors slashed their funding in June partly because of the ‘systemic interference’ in relief operations by the Houthi rebels who hold Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, as well as by the country’s internationally recognized government and their southern separatists. That aid includes food, health care supplies, water, and sanitation support to people in need in the Arab world’s poorest nation…” (Magdy, 9/14).

New Humanitarian: ‘Criminal’ obstruction of aid in Yemen, says watchdog
“…Human Rights Watch (HRW) says both the northern rebel Houthi authorities and the internationally recognized government led by President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which controls much of southern Yemen with its allies, are imposing ‘onerous bureaucratic requirements’ to control the flow of aid or use it as a political bargaining chip. Houthi officials denied the allegations, saying they were simply overseeing aid agencies’ work. HRW did not get a response from the government…” (Parker, 9/14).

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More News In Global Health

CIDRAP News: Pandemic total passes 29 million as cases hit daily high (Schnirring, 9/14).

Devex: Why nonstate armed groups allow access for health workers (Worley, 9/15).

Nature: Stillbirth rate rises dramatically during pandemic (Watson, 9/15).

New York Times: As U.N. Turns 75, the Celebration Is Muted by Calamity and Conflict (Gladstone, 9/15).

NPR: ‘We Had To Take Action’: States In Mexico Move To Ban Junk Food Sales To Minors (Fredrick, 9/14).

Washington Post: Around the world, health officials face death threats amid pandemic (Noack/Mellen, 9/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Address Various Topics Related To COVID-19 Pandemic, Response, Including Vaccines, Surgical Care, Role Of IMF, Pandemic's Death Toll

Financial Times: Bill & Melinda Gates: Vaccine fairness will make us all safer
Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (9/14).

Global Health NOW: To Prepare for Pandemics, Invest in Surgical Care
Kee Park, Paul Farmer global surgery scholar in the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change at Harvard Medical School (9/14).

The Hill: The use and abuse of the IMF in the fight against COVID-19
Rep. French Hill (R- Ark.), lead Republican overseeing the IMF on the House Financial Services Committee and member of the Congressional Oversight Commission tasked with monitoring the implementation of the CARES Act (9/14).

Scientific American: COVID-19’s Other Unnecessary Death Toll
Soumya Rangarajan, member of the Junior Clinical Faculty in the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at Michigan Medicine, administrative lead for Acute Care for Elders (ACE), and member of the UM Faculty Senate Medical Affairs Advisory Committee (MAAC) (9/15).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Report, Statement, Press Releases Address Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including 'Disease Denialism,' Pandemic Preparedness, Response Efforts

BMJ Opinion: Gregg Gonsalves: Covid-19 in the U.S. — the new disease denialism
Gregg Gonsalves, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Public Health Modeling Unit and Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale School of Public Health (9/14).

Georgetown University Medical Center: Georgetown Global Health Center Issues Pandemic Preparedness Report and COVID-19 Lessons
Alexandra Phelan, member of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown University, and adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center; and Rebecca Katz, professor and director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center (9/14).

International Organization for Migration: Enhanced Solidarity Critical as COVID-19 Spreads in World’s Most Vulnerable Communities (9/11).

The Lancet: Lancet COVID-19 Commission Statement on the occasion of the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly
The Lancet COVID-19 commissioners, Task Force chairs, and Commission Secretariat (9/14).

UNFPA: Demand for Afghanistan’s midwives unflagging during COVID-19 pandemic (9/14).

UNICEF: E.U. humanitarian aid mobilizes €5M for basic health service provision during COVID-19 (9/14).

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Blog Posts Address Issues Related To COVID-19 Vaccine Research, Development

Council on Foreign Relations: The Cyber Side of Vaccine Nationalism
David P. Fidler, adjunct senior fellow for cybersecurity and global health at CFR (9/14).

Science’s “In the Pipeline”: Vaccine Transparency
Derek Lowe, author of Science’s “In the Pipeline” blog (9/14).

World Economic Forum: 5 factors that affect our COVID-19 vaccine response, according to this expert
Paul Gill, post-doctoral researcher for gastroenterology and immunology, and Menno van Zelm,
associate professor of immunology, both at Monash University (9/14).

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From the U.S. Government

CRS Report Examines Ebola Outbreaks In DRC, U.S. Role In Response Efforts

Congressional Research Service: Ebola Outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Emergencies or Enduring Threat?
In this CRS report, Tiaji Salaam-Blyther, specialist in global health, and Alexis Arieff, specialist in African affairs, both at CRS, cover various issues related to the Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), providing an overview of the successes and challenges of Ebola control; discussing the U.S. role and funding in response to the epidemic; and examining implications for U.S.-DRC policy and aid, lessons learned for pandemic response in conflict settings, and global health security (9/10).

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From KFF

KFF Releases Side-by-Side Comparing Trump, Biden On COVID-19 Actions, Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic

KFF: Comparing Trump and Biden on COVID-19
This issue brief compares President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on their records, actions, and proposals related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a general overview of their respective approaches, followed by a detailed side-by-side (9/11).

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of September 15, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (9/15).

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. KFF’s blog series “Coronavirus Policy Watch” is available here.

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