KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Coronavirus Killing About 50K People Every Week, WHO Warns, As Pandemic Total Passes 30M

CIDRAP News: Pandemic total tops 30 million as new restrictions target outbreaks
“The global COVID-19 total topped 30 million cases, only 4 days after passing the 29 million mark, fueled by a strengthening surge of cases in India and a mosaic of stubbornly high case levels, steady rises, and smaller flare-ups in other parts of the world…” (Schnirring, 9/18).

CNBC: WHO says the coronavirus is killing about 50,000 people a week: ‘That is not where we want to be’
“The World Health Organization warned Friday that the coronavirus is ‘not going away,’ noting that it’s still killing about 50,000 people a week. ‘That is not where we want to be,’ Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said of Covid-19 deaths during a news conference at the agency’s Geneva headquarters. ‘It’s not where the Northern Hemisphere wants to be going into the winter season. It’s not where developing countries want to be with their health services under nine months of pressure’…” (Lovelace/Higgins-Dunn, 9/18).

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U.K. Joins COVAX; Germany Will Not Join; Latin American Countries Join, Plan To Join After Deadline; China, Russia Roll-Out Still-Experimental Vaccines; News Outlets Cover Other Aspects Of COVID-19 Vaccines

Devex: U.K. joins COVAX scheme on deadline day
“The United Kingdom on Friday joined the international COVAX facility for researching, manufacturing, and equitably distributing vaccines against COVID-19, confirming its participation in the scheme on deadline day. It joins at least 76 wealthy states, including Japan and Norway, in signing up to the scheme. The World Health Organization has faced an uphill battle in convincing high-income countries to participate in full, however…” (Worley, 9/18).

Reuters: EXCLUSIVE — Germany won’t buy vaccines through WHO’s COVAX scheme — sources
“Germany has joined France in deciding against buying potential COVID-19 vaccines through a World Health Organization (WHO) program, although it supports the scheme, government sources told Reuters on Friday. The sources said Berlin was not buying supplies through the WHO’s COVAX program because it was already sourcing potential vaccines through a European Union scheme…” (Rinke, 9/18).

Reuters: Latin American nations plan to join COVAX vaccine facility after deadline
“Brazil and Argentina, Latin American nations seeking more time to commit to the global COVID-19 vaccine facility known as COVAX, said they intend to so as soon as possible after missing Friday’s deadline. Peru’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it managed to sign the binding agreement on Friday and will get access to 12 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX…” (Boadle et al., 9/19).

Washington Post: China and Russia are ahead in the global coronavirus vaccine race, bending long-standing rules as they go
“China and Russia have begun a mass rollout of their coronavirus vaccines before clinical tests are complete, in what is emerging as an unexpectedly complex geopolitical challenge for the United States. … These moves have thrown Western policymakers off balance. American health-care experts say the United States should not rush out its own vaccine in response. But that leaves China and Russia as the only countries wielding this valuable diplomatic tool for potentially months to come…” (Dou et al., 9/18).

Additional coverage of vaccine diplomacy and research is available from Fortune (2), The Guardian, New York Times (2), Reuters, Wall Street Journal, and Xinhua.

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Trump, U.S. Health Officials Disagree On Coronavirus Vaccine Timeline; HHS Secretary Azar Asserts Power Over FDA Decisions

New York Times: Top U.S. Health Officials Tiptoe Around Trump’s Vaccine Timeline
“As the nation’s coronavirus death toll neared 200,000, top administration health officials on Sunday delicately sidestepped President Trump’s ambitious declaration last week that a coronavirus vaccine would be available for every American by April. Instead, Adm. Brett P. Giroir, who heads up national testing efforts, and Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, offered a slightly more conservative timetable for vaccine availability…” (Gorman, 9/20).

New York Times: In ‘Power Grab,’ Health Secretary Azar Asserts Authority Over FDA
“In a stunning declaration of authority, Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, this week barred the nation’s health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, from signing any new rules regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices, and other products, including vaccines. Going forward, Mr. Azar wrote in a Sept. 15 memorandum obtained by the New York Times, such power ‘is reserved to the Secretary.’ The bulletin was sent to heads of operating and staff divisions within HHS. It’s unclear if or how the memo would change the vetting and approval process for coronavirus vaccines, three of which are in advanced clinical trials in the United States…” (Kaplan, 9/19).

Additional coverage of the discrepancies between Trump’s and health experts’ vaccine predictions is available from Financial Times and Roll Call.

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As U.N. General Assembly Gathers Virtually For 75th Meeting, SG Guterres Calls For Political Will Among International Community To Address COVID-19, Achieve SDGs

AP: Pandemic retools diplomacy as world leaders gather virtually
“With COVID-19 still careening across the planet, the annual gathering of its leaders in New York will be replaced this year by a global patchwork of prerecorded speeches, another piece of upheaval in a deeply divided world turned topsy-turvy by a pandemic with no endpoint in sight. As U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres put it: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis unlike any in our lifetimes, and so this year’s General Assembly session will be unlike any other, too.’ This is the first time in the 75-year history of the United Nations that there will be no in-person meeting…” (Lederer, 9/19).

Devex: U.N. chief: ‘We are in trouble, and we need to change course’
“United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres sees two potential scenarios playing out in the global response to COVID-19. In the first scenario, wealthy nations — led by the G-20 — will find a way to deliver meaningful debt relief to low- and middle-income countries, ‘seriously mobilize the liquidities necessary to support the developing world,’ and lead an effort to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is a ‘people’s vaccine.’ … In the other scenario, those things do not happen — lower-income countries are left to fend largely for themselves, and there is no effective global coordination of vaccine production and distribution. Guterres projects that such an approach would lead to a long cycle — ‘five to seven years’ — of social and economic disruption. … The conclusion, for Guterres, is that, ‘it’s time to put our act together’…” (Igoe, 9/21).

Xinhua: U.N. chief calls for political will for Sustainable Development Goals
“United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday called for political will and bold action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Public appetite for transformative change is growing, he said in his opening remarks at the SDG Moment 2020. ‘But one critical ingredient is still missing: political will. Without it, neither public appetite nor stakeholder action will be sufficient’…” (9/19).

Additional coverage of the 75th U.N. General Assembly meeting, progress on the SDGs, and U.N. diplomacy is available from Devex, The Guardian, and U.N. News (2) (3).

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POLITICO Examines WHO's Response To, Fundraising Efforts For COVID-19 Pandemic

POLITICO: Go-it-alone attitude dents WHO’s ‘global solution’ to pandemic
“The world is in this pandemic together. Until it comes to money, that is. With virtually every country around the globe turning inward as its leaders struggle to control the coronavirus at home, the World Health Organization is having trouble raising money for an international effort to develop vaccines, medicines, and tests that many health experts argue is necessary to pull humanity out of the coronavirus pandemic. And they say the window of opportunity is closing…” (Paun, 9/18).

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WHO Establishes Rules For Testing African Herbal Remedies; European Nations Implement Restrictions Amid Rise In COVID-19 Cases; Pandemic Impacts Education In Middle East, N. Africa; U.S., Mexico Border To Remain Closed


BBC News: Coronavirus: WHO sets rules for testing African herbal remedies (9/20).

NPR: Kenya Braced For The Worst. The Worst Didn’t Happen. Why? (Peralta, 9/18).

VOA News: Graft Alleged as Kenya’s Fight Against COVID-19 Struggles (Ruvaga, 9/18).


Reuters: Australia heads for lowest virus count in three months (Kaye, 9/19).


AP: Europe scrambles to contain rise in coronavirus cases (Jordans et al., 9/21).

AP: U.K. science advisers warn of darker COVID-19 days ahead (Kirka, 9/21).

AP: Madrid adopts virus restrictions exposing poor-rich divide (Parra et al., 9/21).

Bloomberg: Threat of Lethal Autumn Looms in Europe After Covid Reprieve (Kresge et al., 9/20).

DW: Coronavirus: The race to save Germany (Pladson, 9/18).

The Hill: As virus pummels U.S., Europe sees its own spike (Sullivan, 9/20).


Forbes: Guatemalan President Latest World Leader To Contract Coronavirus. Here Are The Other 7 (Walsh, 9/18).


Borgen Magazine: COVID-19 Impacts Education in the Middle East and North Africa (Mendez, 9/20).


The Hill: Fauci predicts pandemic will end in late 2021 (Kelley, 9/18).

USA TODAY: U.S. borders with Canada, Mexico to remain closed through Oct. 21 to ‘slow spread of COVID-19’ (Deerwester, 9/19).

Washington Post: CDC reverses controversial coronavirus guidelines for testing people without symptoms (Sun, 9/18).

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Media Outlets Examine Communications, Misinformation Surrounding COVID-19, Polio, Vaccines

AFP/France 24: Polio vaccine in the crossfire of misinformation (9/19).

The Guardian: Medical experts v anti-vaxxers: the Covid-19 information battle (Quinn/McIntyre, 9/19).

The Hill: Fewer Americans say they would take a COVID-19 vaccine compared to four months ago (Hellmann, 9/18).

STAT: How Pinterest beat back vaccine misinformation — and what Facebook could learn from its approach (Brodwin, 9/21).

STAT: An expert’s take on what the U.S., U.K did wrong in Covid-19 communications — and what others did right (Robbins et al., 9/18).

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NIH Launches Network To Detect Emerging Zoonotic Infectious Diseases

WIRED: The NIH Launches a Global Hunt for Animal-to-Human Diseases
“On Wednesday, a group of scientists gathered — virtually, of course — to share their research on a video call. At this point in the Covid-19 pandemic, that was utterly normal. What was not at all normal: The group was launching an international network to detect pathogens that can jump from wildlife to the human population, a field of inquiry that’s become politicized since the coronavirus pandemic began — and they were doing it with federal money, even though the United States government has been the source of the politicization. The network, known as CREID (for Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases), was announced three weeks ago by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases within the National Institutes of Health…” (McKenna, 9/17).

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DRC Must Be Transparent In Efforts To End Equateur Ebola Outbreak, U.K., U.S., Canadian Ambassadors Urge In Joint Statement

The Telegraph: U.K. ambassador urges transparency in Congo’s Ebola fight
“The U.K. ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo has urged the government of the country to be transparent in its fight against Ebola after a rising tide of corruption allegations. Emily Maltman made the call earlier this week in a joint statement with her U.S. and Canadian counterparts, Nicolas Simard and Mike Hammer, after the three toured the Equateur Province, the scene of the most recent Ebola outbreak in the country. The statement comes after months of allegations of corruption in DRC’s health sector…” (Lawal, 9/19).

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More News In Global Health

Borgen Magazine: Eradicating Polio Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic (Marabito, 9/20).

Borgen Magazine: Pneumonia Vaccine Price Drops by 43%, Saving Millions Worldwide (Mui, 9/20).

Borgen Magazine: Contact Tracing: What Developing Countries Have Shown (Daniel, 9/19).

Borgen Magazine: The Rise of Midwifery in Developing Countries Amid COVID-19 (Marabito, 9/19).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Church, anti-abortion groups seen threatening women’s health bill in Kenya (Bhalla, 9/18).

Xinhua: U.N. Women chief calls for bold policies to prevent reversal of women’s cause (9/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Address Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Response, Including Peacebuilding, Vaccine Development

Bloomberg: Boris Johnson Stumbles Into Yet Another Crisis
Therese Raphael, columnist for Bloomberg Opinion (9/21).

The Conversation: Can COVID-19 inspire a new way of planning African cities?
Patrick Brandful Cobbinah, lecturer at the University of Melbourne; Ellis Adjei Adams, assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame; and Michael Odei Erdiaw-Kwasie, research fellow at the University of Southern Queensland (9/20).

Devex: Opinion: The short-sightedness of the COVID-19 vaccine race
Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and national president of the Italian Red Cross Association (9/18).

IPS: Peace is the North Star During and the Post COVID-19 Pandemic
Siddharth Chatterjee, U.N. resident coordinator to Kenya, and Walid Badawi, UNDP resident representative to Kenya (9/21).

NBC News: Dr. Kenneth Gorelick: Trump’s Covid-19 vaccine timeline is missing key context about logistics of herd immunity
Kenneth Gorelick, internal medicine and pulmonary disease specialist, member of the Committee to Protect Medicare, and head of Zymo Consulting Group (9/19).

New York Times: The Pandemic, From the Virus’s Point of View
David Quammen, author and journalist (9/19).

POLITICO: How Much Are We Paying to Treat Covid?
Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina from 2011-2017 and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2017-2019 (9/21).

Rewire.News: Why Making Sex Work Legal Would Help in the COVID-19 Fight
Deon Haywood, executive director, and Lakeesha Harris, director of reproductive health and justice, both at Women With A Vision, Inc. (9/18).

STAT: Three lessons from Covid-19 on accelerating biopharma innovation
Anne White, president of Lilly Oncology (9/18).

Wall Street Journal: You Can Trust the FDA’s Vaccine Process
Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner from 2017-2019 and board member of Pfizer, and Mark McClellan, FDA commissioner from 2002-2004 and board member of Johnson & Johnson (9/20).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Releases Address Various Topics Related To COVID-19, Including Financing Equitable Response; Impact On Girls, Women; Sustaining Progress In Cancer Care Amid Pandemic

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: Financing a comprehensive and equitable COVID-19 response
Mahmoud Mohieldin, special envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations, and Michael Kelleher, director of external affairs at 2Blades Foundation (9/18).

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Corona-free? How disinformation could be clouding the true pandemic picture in Africa
Julia Ilhardt, student at Princeton University, and colleagues (9/21).

Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: How COVID-19 is Impacting Africa: A Conversation with the directors of Africa CDC and WACI Health (9/18).

Plan International: Halting Lives: The Impact of COVID-19 on Girls and Young Women (9/21).

Think Global Health: Just How Do Deaths Due to COVID-19 Stack Up?
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) (9/15).

World Economic Forum: How can we sustain progress in cancer care in the COVID-19 era?
Dina Mired, president at the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC); Rob Yates, head of the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House; and Philippe Drouet, senior vice president for Oncology Global Marketing & Market Access at MSD (9/18).

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Blog Posts, Releases Discuss Gathering Global Health-Related Quantitative, Qualitative Data; Developing Next UNAIDS Strategy; Accelerating UHC, Mental Health, Emergency Response, Nutrition Efforts; Ensuring Sustainability In Health Care

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “The Optimist”: Humanizing quantitative data: A Q&A with Chloé Roubert and Micki Semler
Chloé Roubert, design anthropology lead, and Micki Semler, design research lead, both at Sonder Design Collective (9/16).

UNAIDS: Shaping the next UNAIDS global AIDS strategy (9/18).

UNICEF: WHO and UNICEF recommit to accelerating health and well-being at all ages (9/18).

World Economic Forum: Healthy Futures: What are the challenges in making healthcare more sustainable?
Samantha Sault, writer at the World Economic Forum (9/20).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Delivers 200 Ventilators To NATO To Help Allies Respond To COVID-19

USAID: USAID Delivers 200 Ventilators To The North Atlantic Treaty Organization
“[On Friday], the U.S. Government donated 200 brand-new, American-made ventilators to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to help U.S. Allies respond to the pandemic of COVID-19. NATO will store the 200 ventilators and distribute them as needed to Allies to support civilian authorities in the event of additional surges in COVID-19 infections…” (9/18).

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U.S. Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance To Venezuela, Including $205M From USAID

USAID: The United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Funding In Response To The Venezuela Regional Crisis
In this statement, USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa discusses U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement of nearly $348 million in additional humanitarian assistance, including $205 million from USAID, to Venezuela, noting, “This funding will save lives by protecting hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan children against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and diphtheria. The United States recognizes the critical need to prioritize immunizations, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic” (9/19).

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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 21, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (9/21).

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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