KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Worldwide Coronavirus Deaths Hit 1 Million

AP: Nearly 1M who died of COVID-19 also illuminated treatment
“The nearly 1 million people around the world who have lost their lives to COVID-19 have left us a gift: Through desperate efforts to save their lives, scientists now better understand how to treat and prevent the disease — and millions of others may survive…” (Marchione, 9/27).

Devex: World hits 1M COVID-19 deaths. How did we get here, and will it get worse?
“The latest COVID-19 milestone serves as a grim reminder of its devastating human toll, and a renewed wake-up call to governments and populations of the seriousness of the disease. While some governments have maintained a low number of cases, others have struggled to control transmission. Misinformation and disinformation — at times coming from government leaders — have also contributed to the challenges in tackling the pandemic. Dangerous conspiracy theories have kept people from following basic safety protocols, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing in public places…” (Ravelo/Cornish, 9/28).

NPR: Sobering Milestone: Global Coronavirus Deaths Near 1 Million (Aizenman, 9/28).

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COVID-19 Dominates U.N. General Assembly Proceedings, Underscores Development, Climate, Leadership Challenges

Devex: How will COVID-19 change global development? 5 experts weigh in
“The unofficial theme of the 75th United Nations General Assembly, which certainly looked and felt different, was the response to and recovery from COVID-19. The unprecedented crisis has cast a long shadow and disrupted ongoing development efforts, which were already falling short of what was necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. … Devex asked five experts how COVID-19 could reshape development and change their organizations. Here’s what they had to say…” (Saldinger, 9/28).

Devex: Top donors call for more humanitarian ‘burden-sharing’
“The world’s top 10 donors contribute 80% of humanitarian funding, a situation they say is unsustainable in light of budget pressures and increased needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from the largest donor governments spoke Thursday at a United Nations General Assembly side event convened by the U.S. Many of them stressed the need for greater ‘burden-sharing’ in humanitarian assistance, particularly by expanding the donor base to include new governments…” (Igoe, 9/25).

AP: Leaders to UN: If virus doesn’t kill us, climate change will
“In a year of cataclysm, some world leaders at this week’s annual United Nations meeting are taking the long view, warning: If COVID-19 doesn’t kill us, climate change will. …’We are already seeing a version of environmental Armageddon,’ Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said, citing wildfires in the western U.S. and noting that the Greenland ice chunk was larger than a number of island nations. This was meant to be the year ‘we took back our planet,’ he said. Instead, the coronavirus has diverted resources and attention from what could have been the marquee issue at this U.N. gathering. Meanwhile, the U.N. global climate summit has been postponed to late 2021…” (Anna, 9/27).

AP: U.N. failures on coronavirus underscore the need for reforms
“The coronavirus that has claimed nearly 1 million lives has underscored the failure of the United Nations to bring countries together to defeat it, prompting renewed calls to reform the world body so that it can meet challenges far different — and more daunting — than those it faced at its birth. As U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said last week, ‘The pandemic is a clear test of international cooperation — a test we have essentially failed.’ There is a ‘disconnect between leadership and power,’ he said, warning that in the 21st century’s interconnected world, ‘solidarity is self-interest,’ and ‘if we fail to grasp that fact, everyone loses’…” (Lederer, 9/28).

NPR: COVID-19 Pandemic Tests World Leaders
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a test of international cooperation, one the U.N. secretary-general says the world is failing. As NPR’s Michele Kelemen reports, that failure was on display at the ongoing General Assembly…” (Kelemen, 9/26).

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WHO Publishes Updated Investment Case For ACT-Accelerator For COVID-19 Treatment, Prevention Strategies

Devex: The ACT-Accelerator needs $35B more funding. Here’s what’s at stake if it fails
“The World Health Organization has published an updated investment case for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and a detailed plan for how the money will be used in the next three months — or what will happen if immediate funding fails to materialize. The investment case now includes costing for the ACT-Accelerator’s ‘fourth pillar,’ known as the health systems connector, which has a total requirement of $9 billion. This fourth pillar is essentially meant to ensure the availability of oxygen and personal protective equipment in countries, as well as support countries in building their capacities and health systems to deploy COVID-19 tools effectively and efficiently. In addition to a reduction in costings for the vaccines pillar, this brings the initiative’s total ask from $31 billion to $38 billion, with $15 billion in funding needed immediately…” (Ravelo, 9/25).

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Media Outlets Examine Coronavirus Vaccine Development Efforts In India, China, U.S.

AP: At U.N., India vows to help produce virus vaccine for world
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to help the world produce and deliver potential coronavirus vaccines while making no mention Saturday of the heavy toll the pandemic has taken on his own country, where the enormous population has suffered among the highest numbers of cases and deaths in the world…” (Peltz, 9/27).

The Hill: China vaccinates tens of thousands of people with COVID-19 trials still underway
“China has vaccinated tens of thousands of people for protection against the coronavirus while clinical trials are still being conducted, stoking safety concerns from some experts about the decision. The World Health Organization (WHO) was supportive of China’s campaign to vaccinate certain people against the coronavirus in July amid Phase 3 clinical trials, Reuters reported…” (Desee, 9/26).

STAT: The 8 most important leaders of Operation Warp Speed
“Below are the eight most important people leading Operation Warp Speed. It is based on an organizational chart obtained and published by STAT, as well as interviews with more than a dozen officials close to leaders of the initiative. Their mission: to help develop and distribute a coronavirus vaccine in record time or risk contributing to the coronavirus response as a dark moment in the nation’s history…” (Florko, 9/28).

STAT: A layperson’s guide to how — and when — a Covid-19 vaccine could be authorized
“In a U.S. pandemic response dominated by missteps, the effort to develop vaccines to prevent Covid-19 has so far been a triumph. Vaccines against the coronavirus that causes the disease are now racing through giant clinical trials as a result. It’s a terrible irony, then, that the Trump administration’s statements have resulted in an erosion of public trust, with the percent of Americans who tell pollsters they would take a Covid-19 vaccine dropping and experts worrying the president could compel the Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine before one is ready…” (Herper, 9/28).

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Media Outlets Examine COVID-19's Impact On Abortion Access, Policies Globally

Washington Post: How the pandemic has affected abortion rules around the world
“…Across the globe, the pandemic has made it harder for women and girls to access reproductive services, as clinics close and barriers to medical care rise. The United Nations warned that millions of unintended pregnancies could result, with some 47 million women potentially cut off from modern contraception. Some programs and policies have succeeded in thwarting this trend… But as the pandemic grinds on, the U.N. predictions echo the reality of millions of women in countries without legalized services or plans in place to cope with prolonged disruptions in reproductive care. Here’s a look at six key developments…” (Berger, 9/26).

Guardian: Argentina president under pressure to keep election promise on abortion
“Pro-choice campaigners are renewing pressure on president Alberto Fernández to make good on his electoral pledge to legalize abortion in Argentina. … ‘Society in the 21st century needs to respect the individual choice of its members to freely decide about their bodies,’ Fernández said to applause as he announced [on March 1] he would send a bill calling for abortion under any circumstance for debate within the next 10 days. But on 3 March, Argentina registered its first case of Covid-19. Shortly afterwards, Argentina entered a pandemic lockdown from which it has yet to emerge. … [S]ix months later, with no end in sight to the pandemic, pressure is building on the president to deliver on his promise…” (Goñi, 9/28).

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More COVID-19 News

AP: Morocco faces down COVID spread with tough rules (El Barakah, 9/27).

AP: Progress against virus brings complacency in parts of Africa (Mutsaka, 9/26).

AP: India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reaches 6 million cases (Saaliq, 9/28).

Borgen Magazine: The World Food Program’s Initiatives Today and Amid COVID-19 (Bertomo, 9/27).

Forbes: COVID-19, Climate Crisis Hits Health Services In 50% Countries (Shetty, 9/26).

The Hill: Study finds fewer than 1 in 10 Americans have had COVID-19 (Wilson, 9/26).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: INTERVIEW — After battling TB and COVID-19, a S. African doctor reaches breaking point (Harrisberg, 9/28).

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U.K. To Increase WHO Contribution; Says Consulted With NGOs About DFID-FCO Merger

The Guardian: U.K. to become WHO’s largest state donor with 30% funding increase
“Boris Johnson will announce a 30% increase in the U.K.’s funding of the World Health Organization, making the U.K. the single largest national donor after the U.S. leaves. In an announcement at the U.N. General Assembly, he will urge it to heal ‘the ugly rifts’ that are damaging the international fight against coronavirus…” (Wintour, 9/25).

Devex: U.K. government says it consulted 26 NGOs about DFID-FCO merger but won’t name them
“The U.K. government claimed last week it consulted 26 NGOs about the merger of the Department for International Development and Foreign & Commonwealth Office but is so far refusing to say which ones they are. It is the latest in an ongoing dispute over what kind of consultation process the government undertook prior to the merger…” (Worley, 9/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

Accountability Critical To Achieving SDGs For Women, Children, Adolescents, Opinion Piece Says

Devex: Opinion: Why the SDGs’ defining decade must focus on accountability for those left behind
Joy Phumaphi, co-chair of the U.N. secretary-general’s Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent, and executive secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, and colleagues

“…Healthy women, children, and adolescents are at the heart of prosperous societies. Yet in just a matter of months, COVID-19 has crippled economies and health systems globally, leaving the health of women, children, and adolescents even more at risk than before. … With less than a decade to go [to achieve the 2030 global goals], we find ourselves in a position where we must collectively fight harder than ever before to ensure that the right to health for those furthest left behind is not lost or compromised. … Strategies, action plans, and goals are important, but without accountability at the core, real change cannot occur. … The next 10 years will be crucial for us to invest in stronger accountability frameworks to drive a generation of change for the health of women, children, and adolescents. The pandemic has already left a devastating impact, but we cannot allow it to override our commitments to those furthest left behind. … We call for urgent action to deliver on global commitments with a strengthened, human rights-based approach. We must hold ourselves, and each other, accountable in order to give women, children, and adolescents an equal chance to survive, thrive, and transform without exemption…” (9/25).

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Understanding Relationship Between Common Cold, COVID-19 Should Be 'High Priority', Opinion Piece Suggests

Scientific American: Could Exposure to the Common Cold Reduce the Severity of COVID-19 Infection?
Kevin Esvelt, assistant professor and director of the Sculpting Evolution group at the MIT Media Lab, and Carolyn P. Neuhaus, research scholar at the Hastings Center

“The ongoing tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic afflicts every corner of the world. Vaccines may be our best hope for a safe return to workplaces, parties, stores, and schools, but even if all leading vaccine candidates are protective, the British charity Oxfam estimates that nearly two thirds of the world’s population will not have access until at least 2022. We suggest a scalable alternative that may prevent morbidity and mortality from Covid-19 in the meantime: the common cold. … Might common colds explain a great deal of preexisting immunity, and if so, could the responsible virus help save lives during the current pandemic? We currently lack direct evidence that exposure to any of the four ‘common cold’ coronaviruses protects against severe COVID-19. However, searching for that evidence should be a high priority…” (9/28).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts Discuss Impact Of COVID-19, Climate-Related Disasters On Asia-Pacific; Widening Gaps In Gender Equality For Women, Girls In Conflict; Origins Of Future Outbreaks

Global Citizen: Over 50 Million People Dually Affected by COVID-19 and Climate Disasters
Madeleine Keck, digital campaigner at Global Citizen Australia (9/28).

Global Citizen: Women & Girls in Conflict Face Widening Gaps in Gender Equality as Rest of World Sees Progress
Leah Rodriguez, writer at Global Citizen (9/25).

World Economic Forum: Where in the world will the next epidemic start?
Naomi Forrester-Soto, reader in vector biology at Keele University (9/28).

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PLOS Medicine Announces Forthcoming Special Issue On Child, Adolescent Health

PLOS Medicine’s “Speaking of Medicine”: PLOS Medicine Special Issue: Global Child Health; From Birth to Adolescence and Beyond
“The editors of PLOS Medicine together with Guest Editors Prof. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Prof. Kathryn M. Yount, and Prof. Quique Bassat, announce a forthcoming special issue devoted to child and adolescent health…” (9/25).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Announces $1.2M For Feed The Future Partnerships To Address Economic Impact Of COVID-19

USAID: USAID Announces $1.2 Million in Feed the Future Funds to Private-Sector Partners to Combat the Economic Toll of COVID-19
“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) [Friday] announced $1.2 million for 10 small and medium-sized agribusinesses to address the economic fallout in emerging markets caused by COVID-19. Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation — a USAID-led program managed by Fintrac that is responsible for building partnerships with private-sector agribusinesses — is working with past partner companies to help them cope with the impact of COVID-19 and remain resilient during and after the pandemic…” (9/25).

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U.S. Officials Discuss Humanitarian, Diplomacy Efforts In Africa During Special Briefing

USAID: Richard Albright Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and Max Primorac Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance
During a special briefing via teleconference, Richard Albright, deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and Max Primorac, senior deputy assistant administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, discuss “U.S. leadership and humanitarian assistance and diplomacy in Africa as well as the U.S. commitment to addressing urgent humanitarian needs on the African continent” (9/25).

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USAID Acting Administrator Discusses U.S. Assistance To Venezuelans

USAID: Acting Administrator Barsa’s Remarks at the Atlantic Council’s ‘Reaffirming the World’s Commitment to Venezuela’ Event
During a virtual event, USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa discussed the U.S. commitment to Venezuela, including the announcement of additional humanitarian assistance for Venezuelans (9/25).

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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 28, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (9/28).

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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