KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Worldwide Coronavirus Deaths Reach 1 Million, Death Rate In Africa Lower Than Expected

CNBC: Official coronavirus death toll is likely an ‘underestimate’ of the true total, WHO says
“The official death toll of the coronavirus pandemic is likely lower than the true total, the World Health Organization said Monday, as reported global deaths approach 1 million. … But Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said the reported numbers likely represent an ‘underestimate’ of those individuals who have either contracted Covid-19 or died as a cause of it…” (Lovelace/Higgins-Dunn, 9/28).

Reuters: One million COVID-19 deaths ‘a very sad milestone’, but virus suppressible: WHO
“The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that one million deaths from COVID-19 was ‘a very sad milestone’, after many victims suffered ‘a terribly difficult and lonely death’ and their families were unable to say goodbye. The global coronavirus death toll rose past a million on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, a grim statistic in a pandemic that has devastated the global economy, overloaded health systems, and changed the way people live…” (Nebehay, 9/29).

Reuters: Puzzled scientists seek reasons behind Africa’s low fatality rates from pandemic
“Africa’s overburdened public health systems, dearth of testing facilities, and overcrowded slums had experts predicting a disaster when COVID-19 hit the continent in February. … In May the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that 190,000 people on the continent could die if containment measures failed. Yet as the world marks 1 million COVID-19 deaths, Africa is doing much better than expected, with a lower percentage of deaths than other continents. … The continent’s case fatality count stands at 2.4%, with roughly 35,000 deaths among the more than 1.4 million people reported infected with COVID-19, according to Reuters data as at late Monday. In North America, it is 2.9% and in Europe 4.5%…” (Winning et al., 9/29).

Additional coverage of the coronavirus death toll is available from Reuters, U.N. News, and Wall Street Journal.

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WHO Announces Partnerships, Plan To Provide 120M Rapid Coronavirus Tests To LMICs

AP: WHO, partners roll out faster COVID tests for poorer nations
“The World Health Organization announced Monday that it and leading partners have agreed to a plan to roll out 120 million rapid-diagnostic tests for the coronavirus to help lower- and middle-income countries make up ground in a testing gap with richer countries — even if it’s not fully funded yet. At $5 apiece, the antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests for which WHO issued an emergency-use listing last week, the program initially requires $600 million and is to get started as early as next month to provide better access to areas where it’s harder to reach with PCR tests that are used often in many wealthier nations…” (Keaten, 9/28).

CIDRAP: With rapid tests headed for lower-income countries, COVID deaths near 1 million
“At a WHO media briefing [Monday], Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said the program is a vital addition to LMIC testing capacity. ‘These tests provide reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment,’ he said. ‘This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests.’ He said the volume agreements were developed between two test manufacturers and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The two manufacturers are Abbott and SD Biosensor. The Global Fund committed the initial $50 million for countries to purchase the tests, and the group said countries can start placing their orders this week. A host of groups have signed on to help speed up the rollout of the tests, including Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Unitaid, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)…” (Schnirring, 9/28).

Additional coverage of the rapid test announcement is available from Financial Times, The Hill, and Reuters.

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Gavi, BMGF, India's Serum Institute Collaboration To Provide Up To 200M Coronavirus Vaccine Doses To Poorer Countries

Reuters: Serum Institute to boost production of COVID-19 vaccine doses to 200 million
“Serum Institute of India will make up to 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for poorer countries, including India, next year, as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI vaccines alliance have doubled their funding, the company said on Tuesday. The extra funds will help Serum boost manufacturing of the vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax Inc, for delivery under the COVAX scheme as early as the first half of 2021. The collaboration takes forward an initial agreement signed in August by Serum, GAVI, and the Gates Foundation for 100 million doses to be priced at a maximum of $3 each…” (Mitra, 9/29).

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Devex Examines Roles Of Innovative Financing, Social Entrepreneurs In Development Sector Amid COVID-19

Devex: Accelerating impact: COVID-19 and the future of outcomes-based financing
“Development and aid contracts need to be reformed in the pandemic era to allow for crisis-related contingencies after COVID-19 forced numerous development projects to adopt remote and virtual approaches, experts said at an event co-hosted by Devex and UBS Optimus Foundation. … Panelists from the UBS Optimus Foundation, World Bank, United Nations Children’s Fund, Instiglio, and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation also reflected on the pressing need to find innovative funding tools that stimulate real impact on the ground both during the pandemic and beyond…” (9/28).

Devex: Social entrepreneurs band together for a seat at the COVID-19 response table
“Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs launched an action agenda outlining ways to support social entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. … As social entrepreneurs respond to the COVID-19 crisis all over the world, efforts to support them leading up to UNGA 75 demonstrate growing recognition of the value they can add in the immediate response and in an inclusive recovery…” (Cheney, 9/28).

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Women, Children Face Violence, Poverty, Exploitation, Other Challenges Amid COVID-19

The Guardian: Most countries failing women and girls with Covid response, U.N. finds
“Most countries are failing to adequately protect women and girls during the fallout from Covid-19, according to a new U.N. database that tracks government responses to the pandemic. The global gender tracker has looked at how 206 countries and territories address violence against women and girls, support unpaid care workers, and strengthen women’s economic security. Forty-two countries had no policies to support women in any of these areas. Only 25 had introduced some measures in all three categories…” (Ford, 9/29).

The Telegraph: Children for sale: How the pandemic is forcing poverty-stricken parents to make desperate choices
“…According to a number of studies, when poverty increases and more families are pushed into a daily struggle for survival, children are more at risk of exploitation, child marriage, child labor, and trafficking. The situation during Covid-19 is even more acute because of school closures, meaning children are home, and shutdowns, reducing child protection services…” (Rigby, 9/28).

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Media Outlets Examine U.S. Coronavirus Response, Role Of CDC

AP: Feds to ship millions of tests in bid to reopen K-12 schools (Perrone/Freking, 9/28).

Homeland Preparedness News: Sens. Menendez, Collins seek to create COVID-19 Commission (Clark, 9/25).

New York Times: Behind the White House Effort to Pressure the CDC on School Openings (Mazzetti et al., 9/28).

New York Times: Pandemic Is Far From Over, Experts Say, Despite Trump Allies’ Claims (McNeil, 9/29).

Washington Post: CDC’s credibility is eroded by internal blunders and external attacks as coronavirus vaccine campaigns loom (Sun/Achenbach, 9/28).

WIRED: Could the National HIV Strategy Help Guide the Covid Fight? (McKenna, 9/28).

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China's Foreign Ministry Criticizes U.S. Environmental Policy Record After Critical State Department Remarks

The Hill: China slams U.S. environmental record after critical State Dept report
“China’s foreign ministry knocked the U.S. on Monday in response to a statements from the State Department criticizing Beijing’s record on environmental policy. The Associated Press reported that a statement from Wang Wenbin, spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, slammed the Trump administration’s move to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, signed under the Obama administration and abandoned informally by the U.S. in a 2017 speech by President Trump. By exiting the multinational agreement, the U.S. had become the ‘biggest destroyer of international environmental cooperation’ on the planet, according to Wang. … The comments come following a statement from Morgan Ortagus, a State Department spokeswoman, who accused Beijing of pursuing ‘a reckless and provocative militarization’ of islands in the region, as well as a separate statement from the agency trashing China’s environmental record…” (Bowden, 9/28).

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More COVID-19 & Global Health News

AP: Aid group warns that 700,000 children in Syria risk hunger (Mroue, 9/29).

AP: Child poverty likely to increase in E.U. amid virus pandemic (Petrequin, 9/29).

Devex: More new IDPs in first half of 2020 than all of 2019 (Root, 9/29).

Devex: Markets play a role in food waste and loss reduction, World Bank report says (Welsh, 9/29).

NPR: Some Nations Experience Relatively Little Loss Of Life In The Pandemic (Kuhn et al., 9/29).

Reuters: Children have 44% lower odds of catching COVID-19 than adults — U.K. analysis (Faulconbridge, 9/28).

U.N. News: Nobel laureate Nadia Murad denounces lack of will to end sexual violence as a war tactic (9/28).

U.N. News: COVID-19: ‘Legitimate concerns’ must be heard, and fears addressed over misinformation (9/29).

Washington Post: Ambassadors appeal for acceptance of LGBT people in Poland (Gera, 9/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Topics Related To COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Vaccines, U.S. Response, Private Sector Engagement

The Conversation: How changing vaccine schedules can save costs and lives: findings from South Africa
Jeffrey Dorfman, associate professor at Stellenbosch University (9/28).

The Hill: U.S. public health service needs reform
Col. James T. Currie, U.S. Army (Ret.), former executive director of the Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service (2014-2020) (9/28).

New York Times: America Wrote the Pandemic Playbook, Then Ignored It
Johnny Harris, video producer; Nicholas Kristof, opinion columnist at the New York Times; and Adam B. Ellick, executive producer of Opinion Video at the New York Times (9/29).

STAT: Global investors must support pharma solidarity and collaboration in the response to Covid-19
Sacha Sadan, director of investment stewardship for Legal & General Investment Management; Yo Takatsuki, head of ESG research and active ownership for AXA Investment Managers; Damiano de Felice, director of strategy for the Access to Medicine Foundation (9/28).

U.S. News & World Report: Canada’s Vaccine Strategy May Risk Global Health
Ronald Labonte, professor and distinguished research chair for Globalization and Health Equity at L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa, and colleagues (9/28).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Role, Strengthening Of Global Cooperation

Devex: Opinion: 6 steps to save the G-20 from becoming irrelevant
Rahaf Al Sanosi and Osamah Alhenaki, co-chair of the International Financial Architecture Working Group in 2020, both co-sherpas of the Civil Society Engagement Group and directors for policy design and advocacy at the King Khalid Foundation (9/29).

Project Syndicate: Multilateralism Will Survive the Great Fracture
Ngaire Woods, dean of the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford (9/29).

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On 30th Anniversary Of World Summit For Children, Countries Must Prioritize, Renew, Update Commitments To Protect Children, Opinion Piece Says

IPS: 30th anniversary of World Summit for Children — Today Children Need a New Initiative
Richard Jolly, honorary professor at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex

“…Thirty years ago, on 29/30 September 1990, the largest gathering of world leaders that had ever taken place, met at U.N. Headquarters under the auspices of the U.N. Children’s Fund, UNICEF. This was The World Summit for Children. … Today when children are under serious threat from COVID-19, the 30th anniversary of the Children’s Summit is a highly appropriate time for countries to renew and update the vows they made then. Though children are much less likely to suffer direct effects from the virus, the indirect effects are already serious — in disrupted education, in neglect of essential medical care, in disturbed relations with family, relatives, and friends. Many are also suffering the consequences of domestic violence and child abuse. … Today’s COVID crisis could be an opportunity — for a new impetus to invest in our children and in the next generation of doctors, nurses, scientists, statisticians, and carers, who will need to be well prepared to deal with future crises and emergencies. Though a collective meeting is not possible, every country needs to consider and plan for its children, both to recover from the immediate effects of the virus and to set new paths for the next five and ten years. Prime ministers and heads of state should take the lead, citizen’s assemblies should add to the specifics, and communities and governments should make the commitments…” (9/28).

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International Community Must Take Action To Ensure Women's Rights, Opinion Piece Says On International Safe Abortion Day

Ms. Magazine: This International Safe Abortion Day, ‘We Need Action — Not Restrictions or Performative Promises’
Catherine Nyambura, lead consultant for Generation Equality in Kenya for the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

“…In March, COVID-19 disrupted the already struggling global health infrastructure and economy, and it highlighted and exacerbated the already staggering social and institutional inequities. And there is a confluence of issues we face as a global community. … This confluence has created a fraught political climate, and one that is characterized by pushback on women’s rights. … We are at a tipping point. On one hand, we have the 25th anniversary initiatives [recognizing the Fourth World Conference on Women that bore the Beijing Platform for Action, which outlined 12 areas of concern governments are called on to advance gender equality,] and global health, feminist, and social justice movements. On the other, we have the in-built systemic inequities and legislative obstacles these movements face. … Between today and the [Generation Equality Forum] next year, we have an opportunity to raise the bar — to bring our best ideas to the table to counter the barriers women and girls face worldwide and call [on] governments to amplify political will. In order for that to work, we need policies, programs, and services that are fully funded with built-in accountability mechanisms. Governments around the world, from the U.S. to Kenya and everywhere in between, should seize this moment…” (9/28).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Releases, Other Resources Address Various Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including Vaccine Distribution; Rapid Test Provision In LMICs; Implications For WASH, Child Labor, Cardiovascular Disease

American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene: What COVID-19 Reveals about the Neglect of WASH within Infection Prevention in Low-Resource Healthcare Facilities (McGriff/Denny, 9/28).

Global Citizen: COVID-19 Has Led to a Dramatic Rise in Child Labor Worldwide
Joe McCarthy, staff writer at Global Citizen (9/28).

WHO: Global partnership to make available 120 million affordable, quality COVID-19 rapid tests for low- and middle-income countries (9/28).

World Economic Forum: Why COVID-19 is also a watershed moment for heart health
Nancy Brown, chief executive officer at the American Heart Association (9/29).

World Economic Forum: How to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine and build public trust
Kate Whiting, senior writer for Formative Content (9/28).

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Head Of MSF 's Task Force On Safe Abortion Care Marks International Day, Discusses U.S. Mexico City Policy

Médecins Sans Frontières: Proposed changes to U.S. Global Gag Rule threaten wider harm
“The United States policy known as the Global Gag Rule [Mexico City policy] has had a devastating impact on women’s access to sexual and reproductive health care since it was reinstated and greatly expanded by the Trump Administration more than three and a half years ago. The policy — which already forces health providers to choose between providing information to patients or receiving U.S. funding — is now set to be expanded even further. To mark International Safe Abortion Day on September 28, Dr. Manisha Kumar, head of the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) task force on safe abortion care, explains the risks facing women and girls…” (9/28).

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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 29, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (9/29).

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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