KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

World Leaders Clash At U.N. General Assembly Meeting Over COVID-19, Other Issues As SG Guterres Urges Unity

AP: World powers clash, virus stirs anger at virtual U.N. meeting
“Kept apart by a devastating pandemic and dispersed across the globe, world leaders convened electronically Tuesday for an unprecedented high-level meeting, where the U.N. chief exhorted them to unite and tackle the era’s towering problems: the coronavirus, the ‘economic calamity’ it unleashed, and the risk of a new Cold War between the United States and China. As Secretary-General António Guterres opened the first virtual ‘general debate’ of the U.N. General Assembly, the yawning gaps of politics and anger became evident. China and Iran clashed with the United States — via prerecorded videos from home — and leaders expressed frustration and anger at the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the U.N. chief has called ‘the number one global security threat in our world today’…” (Lederer, 9/23).

NPR: In U.N. Speech, Trump Blasts China And WHO, Blaming Them For Spread Of COVID-19
“In a speech Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly, President Trump once again sought to blame China for the COVID-19 pandemic and called on Beijing to be punished for its handling of the disease, which has killed nearly 1 million people worldwide — a fifth of them in the United States…” (Neuman, 9/22).

Reuters: Russia’s Putin wants stronger WHO, proposes conference on coronavirus vaccine
“Russian President Vladimir Putin told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that the World Health Organization should be strengthened to coordinate the global response to the coronavirus pandemic and proposed a high-level conference on vaccine cooperation…” (Nichols/Osborne, 9/22).

U.N. News: ‘Enhance solidarity’ to fight COVID-19, Chinese President urges, also pledges carbon neutrality by 2060
“The Chinese President Xi Jinping called for enhanced international solidarity to fight the coronavirus on Tuesday during his U.N. General Assembly address, declaring that his country would aim to become carbon neutral, in the wider battle against climate change, by 2060…” (9/22).

U.N. News: Brazilian President outlines action taken to address COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment
“Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has highlighted social and economic measures his administration implemented to address the COVID-19 pandemic and what he views as the politicization of the virus in South America’s largest country…” (9/22).

AP: Telling COVID’s story: At U.N., leaders spin virus storylines (Prengaman, 9/23).

Devex: Leaders juggle blame and calls for solidarity in first virtual UNGA (Igoe, 9/23).

The Hill: Putin calls on U.N. to strengthen World Health Organization (Castronuovo, 9/22).

The Hill: Trump slams China, WHO for COVID-19 spread at virtual United Nations gathering (Kelly, 9/22).

New Humanitarian: From COVID-19 to climate change: What we’re watching at the UNGA (Dupraz-Dobias, 9/22).

U.N. News: Unlike neoliberalism, coronavirus does not favor ‘richest one percent,’ Cuban President tells world leaders (9/22).

U.N. News: As U.N. turns 75, multilateral milestones show successes and ‘how much remains to be done’ — Kagame (9/22).

U.N. News: Forgetting lesson of history ‘short-sighted,’ Russia’s Putin says, calls for cooperation to tackle health challenges (9/22).

U.N. News: COVID-19 pandemic should be ‘shock’ to U.N., revive multilateral order, France’s Macron tells world leaders (9/22).

U.N. News: U.N. chief appeals for global solidarity at General Assembly, warns COVID is ‘dress rehearsal’ for challenges ahead (9/22).

U.N. News: U.S. delivering ‘peace through strength’: President Trump tells U.N. (9/22).

Washington Post: Trump and Xi clash as U.N. marks a gloomy 75th birthday (Tharoor, 9/23).

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Media Outlets Examine Political Interference In U.S. Government Science Agencies; FDA To Announce New Guidance For Emergency Authorization Of Coronavirus Vaccines

AP: 200,000 dead as Trump vilifies science, prioritizes politics
“…Over the past six months, the Trump administration has prioritized politics over science at key moments, refusing to follow expert advice that might have contained the spread of the virus and COVID-19, the disease it causes. Trump and his people have routinely dismissed experts’ assessments of the gravity of the pandemic, and of the measures needed to bring it under control. They have tried to muzzle scientists who dispute the administration’s rosy spin…” (Dearen, 9/23).

The Hill: Despair at CDC after Trump influence: ‘I have never seen morale this low’
“The Trump administration’s bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent efforts to meddle with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are taking a substantial toll on the nation’s foremost public health institution. In interviews with half a dozen current and former CDC officials, they described a workforce that has seen its expertise questioned, its findings overturned for political purposes, and its effectiveness in combating the pandemic undermined by partisan actors in Washington…” (Wilson, 9/23).

Washington Post: FDA poised to announce tougher standards for a covid-19 vaccine that make it unlikely one will be cleared by Election Day
“The Food and Drug Administration is expected to spell out a tough new standard for an emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine as soon as this week that will make it exceedingly difficult for any vaccine to be cleared before Election Day. The agency is issuing the guidance to boost transparency and public trust as it approaches the momentous decision of whether a prospective vaccine is safe and effective…” (McGinley/Johnson, 9/22).

Additional coverage of the FDA’s new guidance is available from Financial Times.

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Senate Democrats Introduce STOP Act To Investigate Political Interference In U.S. Government COVID-19 Response; House Democrats Seek Investigation Into Diversion Of Pentagon Money Meant For Coronavirus

POLITICO: Senate Democrats introduce bill to investigate political interference in Covid-19 response
“Senate Democrats want to create a task force to investigate any political interference in government health agencies’ coronavirus response. Legislation introduced Tuesday would create a task force within the Pandemic Response and Accountability Committee — an independent body created by the CARES Act — to investigate what Democrats argue are clear examples of the Trump administration impeding scientific work by agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” (Lim, 9/22).

Washington Post: Democrats seek investigation into Pentagon’s coronavirus fund following Washington Post article
“Congressional Democrats sharply criticized a Defense Department decision to repurpose a $1 billion coronavirus fund into an economic stimulus for defense contractors, a change the lawmakers say violated congressional intent. Two lawmakers asked for an investigation and public hearings on the matter following a Washington Post article that revealed the change. The funds, set aside under the Cares Act economic stimulus package passed in March, were given to the Pentagon to ‘prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.’ But the Defense Department decided to divert most of that funding toward long-standing defense concerns such as drone technology, body armor, and dress uniforms. … Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) called for a formal investigation reviewing the legality of the Defense Department’s decision to use any of the coronavirus funding for defense industry stimulus…” (Gregg/Torbati, 9/22).

Additional coverage of Senate Democrats’ STOP Act is available from The Hill.

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UNICEF Urges Africa To Reopen Schools; Finland To Deploy Coronavirus-Sniffing Dogs; Aid Agencies Warn Of Crises In Middle East Refugee Camps; U.S. Passes 200K Deaths


AP: Sierra Leone doctor in dedicated mission against COVID-19 (Petesch, 9/23).

Xinhua: UNICEF urges safe reopening of schools in Africa to avert losses (9/22).


AP: Asia Today: Duterte extends virus calamity status by a year (9/22).


Washington Post: Finland to deploy coronavirus-sniffing dogs at Helsinki Airport (Noack, 9/22).


Science: ‘I just want this suffering to be over.’ Brazilians flock to COVID-19 vaccine trials (Escobar, 9/22).


The Guardian: Aid agencies warn of Covid-19 crisis in refugee camps as winter approaches (Chulov, 9/23).


CNN: Fauci calls 200,000 pandemic death toll ‘sobering, and in some respects, stunning’ (Duster, 9/22).

POLITICO: Pence calls 200,000 Covid deaths a ‘heartbreaking milestone’ but says things could’ve been worse (Kim, 9/22).

POLITICO: U.S. coronavirus death toll tops 200K as officials fear fall surge (Wanneh, 9/22).

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UNICEF Executive Director Discusses COVID-19 Pandemic's Impact On Education, Urges Efforts To Reach More Children

Devex: We need to reach out-of-school children ‘now,’ says UNICEF’s Henrietta Fore
“The COVID-19 pandemic could offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to equalize education for children worldwide — or it could lead to many children never returning to school following countrywide lockdowns, according to Henrietta Holsman Fore, executive director of UNICEF. Fostering equitable access to digital learning and technology is key to closing the widening gap between school children worldwide, Fore told Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar in a recent interview leading up to the opening of the United Nations General Assembly…” (Lieberman, 9/22).

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Novartis Raises $2.1B By Selling Bonds Aimed At Improving Access To Medicines In LMICs

STAT: Novartis sells bonds tied to expanding access to medicines in poor countries
“In a first-of-its-kind move by a large drug maker, Novartis (NVS) raised approximately $2.1 billion last week by selling bonds that are tied directly to its progress in making medicines accessible in certain low- and middle-income countries…” (Silverman, 9/22).

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News Outlets Cover Advances In, Questions Over Coronavirus Vaccine Research

AP: Late-stage study of first single-shot vaccine begins in U.S. (Johnson, 9/23).

Financial Times: How close is a coronavirus vaccine? (Gross/Bott, 9/23).

Financial Times: Scientists plead for clarity on AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine trial (Kuchler et al., 9/22).

NPR: Why Coronavirus Vaccine Trials Need Large Numbers Of Volunteers (Palca, 9/22).

Washington Post: A single-shot coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson will be tested in 60,000 people (Johnson, 9/23).

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Officials At USAID's Bureau For Conflict Prevention And Stabilization Craft Memo Detailing Frustration With Trump Appointee

POLITICO: USAID dissent memo details frustrations with Trump appointee
“Officials at a division of the U.S. Agency for International Development that tries to prevent conflict are so fed up with their new boss that they’ve crafted a lengthy memo chronicling their frustrations in the hopes Trump administration officials will intervene. … The officials’ 13-page memo targets Pete Marocco, a political appointee who has left a bitter trail at other government departments where he’s served. Marocco now leads USAID’s Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Stabilization…” (Lippman/Toosi, 9/22).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: ‘It’s a power struggle’: UNICEF, WFP clash over wasting treatment reform (Welsh, 9/23).

New York Times: Covid-19 May Have a Hidden Impact on the Heart (Tingley, 9/23).

The Telegraph: Millions of animals from emerging disease hotspots are imported into U.K., study finds (Hayes, 9/22).

Xinhua: Health workers give polio vaccines to children during door-to-door polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan (9/22).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Topics Related To COVID-19, Including Testing, Vaccines, Africa's Response To Pandemic

Devex: Opinion: Making UNGA matter in the age of pandemic
Hardin Lang, vice president for programs and policy at Refugees International (9/22).

Foreign Affairs: One Virus, Two Americas
Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health (9/22).

New York Times: These Coronavirus Trials Don’t Answer the One Question We Need to Know
Peter Doshi, associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, and Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research (9/22).

STAT: Fast, low-cost testing is essential for averting a second wave of Covid-19
Menachem Fromer, data scientist, R&D lead for COVID-19 population health and mental health at Verily Life Sciences, and associate professor of genetics and genomic sciences and psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and colleagues (9/23).

Washington Post: Africa has defied the covid-19 nightmare scenarios. We shouldn’t be surprised
Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor at the Washington Post (9/22).

Washington Post: Beware of covid-19 vaccine trials designed to succeed from the start
William Haseltine, chair and president of ACCESS Health International (9/22).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Center For Public Integrity Publishes Details On New HHS Data Platform For Pandemic Response

Center for Public Integrity: New, Secretive Data System Shaping Federal Pandemic Response
“As deadly Ebola raged in Africa and threatened the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pinpointed a problem: The agency had many sources of data on the disease but no easy way to combine them, analyze them on a single platform, and share the information with partners. … It spent millions building a new platform. … But at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the CDC still struggled to integrate and share data. … So the CDC turned to outsiders for help. Information technology experts at the federal Department of Health and Human Services took control of the project. Five days later, they had a working platform, dubbed HHS Protect, with the ability to combine, search, and map scores of datasets on deaths, symptoms, tests, ventilators, masks, local ordinances, and more. … The Center for Public Integrity is the first to reveal details about how the platform came to be and how it is now being used…” (Whyte/Fryer-Biggs, 9/22).

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CARE Report Discusses Impacts Of COVID-19 On Women, Girls

CARE: New Report: ‘She Told Us So’ 10,000 People in 38 Countries Surveyed Around COVID Impacts
Emily Janoch, director of knowledge management and learning at CARE, and colleagues discuss a new report on the impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls. The report discusses challenges women face due to COVID-19 and provides recommendations on how to ensure a more equitable and effective pandemic response (9/22).

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Volunteer Vaccinators Overcome Numerous Challenges To Help Eradicate Polio In DRC

WHO Africa: DRC: The great lengths that polio vaccinators go to reach every last child
“By foot, boat, and bicycle, thousands of volunteer vaccinators in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) go to extraordinary efforts, sometimes at personal risk, to help eradicate polio. … Stopping polio transmission in DRC has been challenging. … Despite these challenges, the DRC’s polio program trailblazed a number of innovations and measures to overcome these challenges, which have since been used by other countries…” (9/23).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Releases Discuss Agency's Efforts To Train Health Workers In Vietnam, Yemen Amid COVID-19

USAID: USAID Equips Health Workers in Vietnam with Essential Skills to Fight COVID-19 (9/22).

USAID: Supporting Yemen’s Healthcare Workforce (9/22).

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USAID Acting Administrator Discusses Role Of U.S. Foreign Assistance As National Security During Remarks

USAID: USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa at 2020 Concordia Summit: “Foreign Assistance is National Security”
In remarks at the 2020 Concordia Summit, USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa discussed the role of U.S. foreign assistance as a national security tool (9/22).

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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 23, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (9/23).

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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