KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

New U.N. Report Outlines Steps Needed To Protect Lives, Mitigate Shocks, Recover From COVID-19; Media Outlets Report On Other U.N. Pandemic-Related News

U.N. News: Protect lives, mitigate future shocks and recover better: U.N.-wide COVID-19 response
“Over the course of 2020 thus far, the coronavirus has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, infected millions of people, and wreaked socio-economic, humanitarian, and human rights havoc, the United Nations said in a new report released on Wednesday. According to the September update of the U.N. Comprehensive Response to COVID-19, no country has been spared; no population left unscathed. Among other things, the update outlines the steps needed to save lives, protect societies, and recover better while pointing the way to addressing future shocks, above all from climate change, and overcoming the universal inequities…” (9/16).

The Hill: WHO says average age of those infected with the coronavirus is falling (Guzman, 9/16).

Reuters: WHO’s Ryan: don’t turn COVID-19 into ‘political football’ (Nebehay, 9/17).

Reuters: WHO warns of coronavirus momentum as winter looms in north (Nebehay/Blamont, 9/16).

The Telegraph: You are more likely to win the lottery than escape Covid-19 infection, warns WHO expert (Kelly-Linden, 9/16).

U.N. News: COVID pushes millions more children deeper into poverty, finds new study (9/17).

U.N. News: U.N. chief: COVID-19 vaccine must be affordable and available to all (9/16).

Xinhua: U.N. chief calls for more efforts to address global fragilities exposed by COVID-19 (9/17).

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U.S. Health Officials Appear Before Senate Subcommittee, Launch Plan To Distribute Potential Coronavirus Vaccine; Trump Rejects Government Scientists' Statements On Vaccines, Masks; Biden Questions Trump Administration's Motivation To Approve Vaccine

The Hill: Trump health officials grilled over reports of politics in COVID-19 response
“Trump administration health officials were grilled by senators Wednesday about a cascade of reports on political interference in the federal government’s response to the pandemic. The officials sought to defend the scientific integrity of the administration’s response, while at times striking markedly different notes than President Trump, particularly on the importance of wearing masks. The Senate Appropriations health subcommittee hearing assessing the coronavirus response took place against a backdrop of turmoil in the administration, with news coming that same day that the top spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Michael Caputo, would be taking a 60-day leave of absence after he accused government scientists of forming a ‘resistance unit’ to Trump and urged supporters to arm themselves ahead of the Nov. 3 election…” (Sullivan, 9/16).

New York Times: Trump Scorns His Own Scientists Over Virus Data
“President Trump on Wednesday rejected the professional scientific conclusions of his own government about the prospects for a widely available coronavirus vaccine and the effectiveness of masks in curbing the spread of the virus as the death toll in the United States from the disease neared 200,000. In a remarkable display even for him, Mr. Trump publicly slapped down Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the president promised that a vaccine could be available in weeks and go ‘immediately’ to the general public while diminishing the usefulness of masks despite evidence to the contrary. The president’s comments put him at odds with the CDC, the world’s premier public health agency, over the course of a pandemic that he keeps insisting is ’rounding the corner’ to an end…” (Baker et al., 9/16).

Washington Post: Top health official says states need about $6 billion from Congress to distribute coronavirus vaccine
“Trump administration officials released a detailed road map Wednesday of their plans to speed doses of a coronavirus vaccine into the arms of millions of Americans, as a top health official warned that Congress has yet to provide about $6 billion to help states prepare for what is expected to be the largest vaccination campaign ever undertaken. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a Senate panel that his agency, which is playing a lead role in vaccine distribution, does not have the critical funds that states need for the distribution, which will take place in phases…” (Sun, 9/16).

Washington Post: Biden questions whether a vaccine approved by Trump would be safe
“Joe Biden on Wednesday expressed reservations about whether a coronavirus vaccine approved by the Trump administration would be safe, raising doubts about the president’s ability to put the health of Americans before politics. Biden said Americans should trust a coronavirus vaccine developed under the Trump administration only if the president gives ‘honest answers’ to questions about its safety, effectiveness, and equitable distribution. ‘I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump,’ Biden said. ‘And at this point, the American people can’t, either.’ Biden also raised the possibility of President Trump pressuring agency officials to sign off on a vaccine that scientists are not yet confident in, to gain an electoral advantage…” (Sullivan/Goldstein, 9/16).

Additional coverage of the Senate Appropriations health subcommittee hearing and Trump’s and Biden’s comments is available from AP, CNN, Financial Times, The Hill (2), New York Times, POLITICO (2) (3), Roll Call (2), and Washington Post.

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News Outlets Report On COVID-19 Vaccine, Treatment Research, Development

Bloomberg: Trial Illness Likely Not Linked to Covid Shot, Oxford Says (Paton, 9/16).

New York Times: An Experimental Drug Protects Covid-19 Patients, Eli Lilly Claims (Kolata, 9/16).

STAT: Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody helps some patients rid their systems of virus sooner in early analysis (Herper/Garde, 9/16).

USA TODAY: Pfizer reports ‘potential’ of COVID-19 candidate vaccine after expanding trial to 44,000 people (Weintraub, 9/15).

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HHS Appointee Michael Caputo Taking 60-Day Medical Leave; POLITICO Examines Influence Over Coronavirus Messaging

POLITICO: ‘It just created a public relations nightmare’: Inside Michael Caputo’s time at HHS
“…On Wednesday, after POLITICO detailed Caputo’s efforts to interfere with the weekly scientific reports coming out of the CDC and a disastrous rant in which he accused health officials of plotting against Trump, the 58-year-old spokesman announced he was taking a 60-day medical leave. HHS officials are left to assess the damage to their credibility at a time when they need the public to accept the safety and effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine they choose as soon as next month. … But with Caputo out of the picture, it’s not clear that credibility can be restored so quickly…” (Diamond et al., 9/16).

Additional coverage of Caputo’s leave of absence and comments is available from The Hill, POLITICO, and Washington Post.

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Trump Administration Proposes Further Expansion Of Mexico City Policy

National Review: The Trump Administration Proposes Another Expansion of the ‘Mexico City Policy’
“…When it applied only to the State Department and USAID, the Mexico City policy covered about $600 million in U.S. aid directed to international family-planning programs. … And now, the administration has proposed further broadening the [Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) policy] so that it covers global-health-aid contracts and subcontracts awarded by the Defense Department, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration…” (DeSanctis, 9/16).

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Bipartisan Group Of 12 U.S. Lawmakers Launches International Water And Sanitation Caucus

Devex: Bipartisan lawmakers in the U.S. unite to advocate for WASH
“Politicians from both sides of the U.S. political spectrum have come together to advocate for global access to water, sanitation, and hygiene. The International Water and Sanitation Caucus, which launched this week, was founded by a bipartisan group of 12 lawmakers who believe WASH is central to national and global health, as well as economic productivity, ecosystem functions, and national security…” (Root, 9/17).

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More Than 50 Democratic U.S. Lawmakers Urge State Department To Restore Aid To Yemen

Foreign Policy: Congress Pressures Trump Administration to Restore Aid to Yemen
“U.S. Congress is urging the State Department to reconsider U.S. assistance to Yemen suspended by President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year after a plea from humanitarian groups last month appeared to fall on deaf ears, redoubling attention on years of U.S. policy missteps in the war-torn country. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo provided to us, a group of more than 50 Democratic lawmakers led by Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, who chairs the Middle East subcommittee of the House’s powerful foreign-affairs panel, called on the agency to restore $73 million in aid halted in March over U.S. fears that Iran-backed Houthi rebels were seizing control of the aid and stopping distribution…” (Detsch/Gramer, 9/16).

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World Bank's Human Capital Index 2020 Warns Of Pandemic Impacts On Human Capital

Devex: World Bank warns of COVID-19 toll on human capital
“On Wednesday, the World Bank released its latest installment of the ‘Human Capital Index,’ a country-by-country ranking that translates shortfalls in health and education into potential productivity losses at a national level. The 2020 version of the index describes the world of human capital before COVID-19 and could offer its greatest value as a marker of what has been lost…” (Igoe, 9/16).

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COVID-19 Could Have Peaked In Many African Nations, Confounding Scientists; India's Cases Pass 5M; WHO Warns Of Rising Cases In Europe, Risk In L. America; U.S. Senators Introduce Bill To Counter Pandemic Misinformation


AP: South Africa says 12 million ‘probably’ had coronavirus (Imray et al., 9/16).

The Guardian: Staple food prices rise by 50% in Sudan amid economic strife, floods and Covid (Salih, 9/17).

The Guardian: ‘Confounding’: Covid may have already peaked in many African countries (McVeigh, 9/16).


AP: As India’s virus cases rise, so do questions over death toll (Ghosal et al., 9/17).

AP: 5M people infected, India’s virus outbreak still soaring (Sharma/Ghosal, 9/16).

CIDRAP News: India’s COVID-19 total tops 5 million as cases rise in Europe (Schnirring, 9/16).

Washington Post: Churches have become South Korea’s coronavirus battleground (Kim, 9/17).

Yahoo News Australia: The surprising country that has quietly beaten the coronavirus pandemic (Whigham, 9/15).


AP: Some U.K. bars to close early amid rising COVID-19 infections (Kirka, 9/17).

CNBC: ‘Very serious situation’ unfolding in Europe, WHO warns, as cases rise dramatically (Ellyatt, 9/17).

The Hill: U.S. general reassures German town of commitment to prevent COVID-19 spread after outbreak (Budryk, 9/16).


Al Jazeera: WHO warns Latin America reopening too soon amid COVID-19 risk (9/16).

Reuters: WHO director warns Latin America is opening too early, COVID-19 still a risk (Boadle, 9/16).


Science: Turkish scientists and physicians face criminal investigations after criticizing COVID-19 policies (McTighe, 9/16).

U.N. News: Syria COVID spread may be much higher than figures suggest, Lowcock tells Security Council (9/16).


Homeland Preparedness News: Sens. Peters, Klobuchar and Reed introduce bill to counter COVID-19 misinformation (Kovaleski, 9/16).

Roll Call: COVID-19 hits Latino, Black and Native American wallets harder (Saksa/Macagnone, 9/16).

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: U.S. sanctions ‘ruining lives,’ Iran tells United Nations court (9/16).

Borgen Magazine: Exploring the Global Funding for TB Eradication (Robinso, 9/17).

Devex: Q&A: COVID-19 highlights the value of context-specific messaging (9/17).

Devex: Independent evaluation lost as DFAT ‘adjusts’ its structure (Cornish, 9/17).

Devex: U.S. State Department comes up short of a global fragility strategy (Welsh, 9/17).

The Guardian: ‘Why wait for it?’ How to predict a pandemic (Vidal, 9/16).

Science: From leprosy to COVID-19, how stigma makes it harder to fight epidemics (Chandrashekhar, 9/16).

STAT: The cost of Gilead’s HIV prevention pill thwarted widespread use, study finds (Silverman, 9/16).

The Telegraph: ‘People are the currency of progress’: how Pakistan is battling stunting (Farmer, 9/16).

The Telegraph: Once-in-a-lifetime floods wreak havoc across Africa (Brown, 9/16).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Beirut blast adds to women’s money and health worries in Lebanon (Barkawi, 9/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Address Various Issues Related To COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Lessons From Polio Vaccine, Global Cooperation, Impacts On Women, Children

The Conversation: Lessons from how the polio vaccine went from the lab to the public that Americans can learn from today
Carl Kurlander, senior lecturer, and Randy P. Juhl, distinguished service professor emeritus of pharmacy, both at the University of Pittsburgh (9/16).

Devex: Opinion: Global cooperation tested by the pandemic at UNGA 75
José Luis Castro, president and CEO of Vital Strategies (9/16).

Devex: Opinion: Our collective vulnerability
Vanessa Kerry, co-founder and CEO of Seed Global Health (9/17).

Harvard Business Review: Don’t Let the Pandemic Set Back Gender Equality
Deepa Mahajan, partner in McKinsey & Company’s San Francisco office, and colleagues (9/16).

The Hill: Media’s anti-Trump coronavirus spin has real consequences
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (9/16).

IPS: Leveraging Research for Solution-driven Policymaking in the Era of COVID-19
Sudip Ranjan Basu, program officer for partnerships in the Office of the Executive Secretary at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and colleagues (9/16).

IPS: Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Children
Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders and former president of Ireland (9/16).

JAMA: Suboptimal U.S. Response to COVID-19 Despite Robust Capabilities and Resources
Jennifer B. Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues (9/16).

New York Times: A Cataclysm of Hunger, Disease and Illiteracy
Nicholas Kristof, opinion columnist at the New York Times (9/16).

Project Syndicate: A Moment of Truth in the Pandemic
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; and Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the WHO (9/16).

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Opinion Piece Calls On U.S. Policymakers To Repeal Mexico City Policy, Helms Amendment

Ms. Magazine: The Trump Administration Wants to Make the Global Gag Rule Even More Harmful
Lauren Cross, senior U.S. communications manager, and Zara Ahmed, senior policy manager on the public policy team, both at the Guttmacher Institute

“In the middle of a global pandemic, the Trump administration is trying to make it harder for people to get the sexual and reproductive health care they want and need. This week, the administration announced that it is proposing to expand the … ‘global gag rule’ even further than it already has. … The proposed expansion of the policy would, for the first time, cover all contracts that organizations have with the United States for global health work, not only grant funding. … [T]here are actions that policymakers can take to combat this harmful policy … First, Congress should pass the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (Global HER) Act. This bill would reverse and permanently repeal the global gag rule. The legislation has 194 cosponsors in the House and 46 in the Senate, including two Republicans. Second, Congress should pass the Abortion Is Health Care Everywhere Act to repeal the 1973 Helms Amendment … It’s time to address the larger legislative architecture that prevents abortion from being included as part of a comprehensive package of U.S.-supported sexual and reproductive health services… ” (9/16).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Policy Cures Research's G-FINDER 2020 Report Tracks Global Funding On Emerging Infectious Diseases R&D

Policy Cures Research: Amidst COVID-19, Disease X looms and more cross-cutting R&D funds needed for all emerging infectious diseases, says new G-FINDER report
“Emerging infectious diseases — both known and unknown — remain a constant threat as the world fights COVID-19, yet past R&D investments show the need for more consistent and diversified funding to prevent future pandemics, according to the new G-FINDER report on emerging infectious disease (EID) by Policy Cures Research, a global health think tank. The report, Landscape of Emerging Infectious Disease R&D: Preventing the next pandemic, tracks global funding for basic research and products such as vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to fight priority EIDs, including coronaviruses, Ebola, and Zika, as well as Disease X — the name given to unknown pathogens with pandemic potential — between 2014 and 2018…” (9/17).

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Blog Posts, Releases Address Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Impact Of Climate On Health, Vaccine Development, Health Worker Safety

BMJ Opinion: Mandeep Dhaliwal: We need a green recovery to prevent the next pandemic
Mandeep Dhaliwal, director of HIV, Health, and Development at the United Nations Development Programme (9/16).

BMJ Opinion: Els Torreele: As politics trumps science in the race for a vaccine, who will protect public health?
Els Torreele, researcher and advocate on medical innovation for access (9/16).

Oxfam International: Small group of rich nations have bought up more than half the future supply of leading COVID-19 vaccine contenders (9/17).

Pew Research: U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly
Richard Wike, director of global attitudes research at Pew, and colleagues (9/15).

WHO: Keep health workers safe to keep patients safe: WHO (9/17).

Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: The Global Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Girls
Hannah Chosid, staff intern with the Wilson Center’s Maternal Health Initiative (9/16).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has published Issue 386 of the ‘Global Fund Observer.’ The newsletter includes an analysis on the impact of school closures on the risk of unwanted pregnancy and HIV among adolescent girls and young women; an article on the need for increased awareness and funding as COVID-19 threatens to cause a resurgence of HIV, TB, and malaria; and an article on the Global Fund’s use of an online procurement platform to help recipient countries access COVID-19 products, including diagnostic tests (9/17).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Acting Administrator Meets With British Foreign Secretary To Discuss COVID-19, Humanitarian Assistance In Yemen

USAID: USAID Acting Administrator Barsa’s Meeting With British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, M.P.
“…United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Administrator John Barsa met [on Wednesday] with the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (U.K.), the Right Honourable Dominic Raab, M.P. … Acting Administrator Barsa noted USAID’s strong collaboration with the British Government on shared development and humanitarian-assistance priorities, including on the global response to the pandemic of COVID-19. In addition, the Acting Administrator and the Foreign Secretary discussed rising food insecurity in the Republic of Yemen, which is worsening as the country faces compounding shocks. They agreed on the need for robust funding from additional donors, provided according to humanitarian principles…” (9/16).

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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 September 17, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (9/17).

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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