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The weekly IHP newsletter offers a digest of key global health (policy, governance, research) reads.
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Priti Patnaik (from Geneva Health Files) nailed it last Friday, with her tweet on Tedros’ support for a (temporary) TRIPS Waiver: “An unequivocal support for the need of the #TRIPSwaiver proposal @wto by @DrTedros today. Sounded like a defining moment in the pandemic: “If not now, then when?” Exactly. While I’m not particularly fond of the global health evergreen ‘If not now, then when?’, in this case, its use seems more than justified.
More, things are moving, slowly but steadily, in the right direction. Among others, because John Nkengasong (Africa CDC) is damned right when saying he doesn’t want Africa to be left behind as “the Covid continent” (when rich countries will vaccinate everyone, and then impose travel restrictions). Nkengasong rightly keeps up the pressure on ( too many of our) leaders talking cheaply about ‘global solidarity’ and vaccination as ‘a global public good’, while engaging much of their time away from the cameras in vaccine geopolitics (aka “soft power”), vaccine nationalism or schmoozing with “their” pharmaceutical companies.
As for John’s “sister”, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, she made quite an impression on her first day as WTO boss on Monday, arguing for a tripling of vaccine production, in whatever way that works best. For the moment, she continues to push her ‘Third Way’ (described by a Geneva Health Files source as “Covax on steroids”). If that doesn’t suffice (and I’m afraid it won’t ), hopefully in the coming months we’ll also see a Trips waiver or any other approach that “gets the job done”. In any case, further democratization of vaccine production and tech transfer seem a must. As for how to get there, a Chinese sage (Deng Xiaoping 😊) already knew, “it doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.”
Meanwhile, Rob Yates is no doubt not the only one looking forward to Italy’s G20 presidency, see his op-ed titled, The Health Priority for Italy’s G20 Presidency: Immunise the World, Equitably. Spot on, that priority. And let’s use for once not “PUBLIC FINANCING” but straightforward Pandemic Billionaire Taxation ( or if you prefer global health speak, “harnessing” & “leveraging” the disruptive “PBT scheme”). Given Italy’s current prime minister, Mario Draghi, this G20 priority of global vaccine equity could perhaps be subtitled, “Whatever it takes”. PS: Global Citizen could use that cheesy song from Imagine Dragons with the same title, to kickstart a global ‘Whatever it takes’ campaign. Hopefully we will then all, in the end, “love the (vaccine induced) adrenaline in our veins 😊”!
Enjoy your reading.
This new report released for World Obesity Day 2021, analyses the cost of not addressing the global obesity crisis.
Cfr the press release: 90% of COVID-19 deaths in countries with high obesity rates: Landmark global study on World Obesity Day shows a dramatic correlation between countries’ death and obesity rates.
“COVID-19 death rate is ten times higher in countries where 50%+ of the population is overweight; 2.2 million of the 2.5 million COVID-19 global deaths were in countries with high levels of obesity. … World Health Organization [WHO] Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom says report must act as a wake-up call to governments globally; Governments need to act now as failure to tackle obesity is ‘clearly responsible’ for hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths globally…. World Obesity Federation [WOF] calls for urgent vaccine prioritisation of those living with obesity. “
“…Through systematic analysis of the latest mortality data from Johns Hopkins University and WHO Global Health Observatory data on obesity, the report shows that 2.2 million of the 2.5 million global deaths were in countries with high levels of obesity. … … Age has been the predominant focus of analysis of risks of hospitalisation and death to date, but this report shows for the first time that overweight populations come a close second. The author shows that any excess body weight is likely to impact the severity of COVID-19 in a patient. …”
Excellent coverage via the Guardian - Covid deaths high in countries with more overweight people, says report (Sarah Boseley)
PS: as a reminder, Covid-19 should be a wake-up call for governments to go for triple benefit policies (tackling the syndemic of undernutrition, malnutrition & climate crisis).
“Nearly 2.5 billion people worldwide ─ or 1 in 4 people ─ will be living with some degree of hearing loss by 2050, warns the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first World Report on Hearing, released today. At least 700 million of these people will require access to ear and hearing care and other rehabilitation services unless action is taken. … … The report, launched ahead of World Hearing Day on 3 March, underlines the need to rapidly step up efforts to prevent and address hearing loss by investing and expanding access to ear and hearing care services. Investment in ear and hearing care has been shown to be cost-effective: WHO calculates that governments can expect a return of nearly US$ 16 for every US$ 1 invested….”. Check out the key messages of this report.
“The report was published in collaboration with the US-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation.”
(Excellent) Coverage via HPW - The World Can No Longer Afford To Turn A Deaf Ear To Hearing Loss – WHO Launches New Report On Hearing
Tim Schwab; https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n556
One of the must-reads of the week… “The major funder of health research stands to gain financially from the pandemic, raising questions about transparency and accountability.”
Excerpt: “An increasingly clear feature of the covid-19 pandemic is that the public health response is being driven not only by governments and multilateral institutions, such as the World Health Organisation, but also by a welter of public-private partnerships involving drug companies and private foundations. One leading voice to emerge is the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s top funders of health research, whose sprawling charitable activities in the pandemic include co-leading a WHO programme to support new covid-19 therapeutics. The Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator project hopes to raise billions of dollars and deliver hundreds of millions of treatment courses in the year ahead, including dexamethasone and a number of monoclonal antibodies. At the same time, The BMJ finds, Wellcome itself holds investments in companies producing these same treatments. Financial disclosures from late 2020 show that Wellcome has a £275m (€318m; $389m) stake in Novartis, which manufactures dexamethasone and is investigating additional therapeutics. And Roche, in which Wellcome holds a £252m stake, is helping to manufacture monoclonal antibodies with Regeneron. Both Roche and Novartis report having had conversations with WHO’s ACT Accelerator about their therapeutic drugs….” “Wellcome’s financial interests have been published on the trust’s website and through financial regulatory filings but do not seem to have been disclosed as financial conflicts of interest in the context of Wellcome’s work on covid-19, even as they show that the trust is positioned to potentially gain from the pandemic financially…”
On Monday, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala kicked off her term at the helm of WTO.
The WTO’s highest-level decision-making body, the General Council, met on March 1st-3rd.
“The first day of the former finance and foreign minister at the helm of the WTO [coincided] with a meeting of its top decision-making body, the General Council. Its 164 member states discuss[ed] topics such as trade rules on COVID-19 vaccine distribution which Okonjo-Iweala has identified as a priority. On the agenda [was] also the date and venue for its major ministerial conference which was due to be held in Kazakhstan last year but was delayed due to the pandemic….
“Despite a groundswell of growing support, a South African and Indian proposal to the World Trade Organization to suspend patents and other intellectual property on vital COVID-19 vaccines and other health products was put on hold by WTO’s General Council in its session on Monday – with the next debate likely to occur in May. But there is growing pressure among supporters to move discussions to a draft text – to be hammered out in the interim by WTO members of the TRIPS Council, (which oversees the Trade Related Agreement on Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). …… “I think there is a general agreement among members to continue these discussions with the aim of trying to find some sort of compromise that would help and address this urgent matter regarding the global crisis,” said a Geneva WTO official, commenting on the TRIPS waiver deliberations, just after they concluded Monday evening. “
“…. Incoming WTO DG Iweala, meanwhile, said that WTO delegates and countries should “walk and chew gum” simultaneously – stepping up informal contacts with industry voices over the vaccines manufacturing bottleneck – while debates over the formal WTO waiver proposal continue at the WTO TRIPS Council. “We have a demand for a TRIPS waiver by a growing number of developing countries and the dialogue is intensifying,” declared Iweala. “Whilst this is happening, I propose that we “walk and chew gum” by also focusing on the immediate needs of dozens of poor countries that have yet to vaccinate a single person. … …. ‘Third Way’ Now Framed As ‘Interim’ Approach: At the same time, Iweala’s comments represented a slight shift from remarks that she had made only two weeks ago, when she was elected to head the WTO. At the time, she said she would advocate for a “third way” approach based on voluntary licensing of patented vaccines to generic manufacturers in the global south. However, in her remarks to the WTO General Council this Monday, shared after the closed meeting, Iweala said that would only serve as an “interim solution” – until a more formal agreement were reached. “The world has a normal capacity of production of 3.5 billion doses of vaccines and we now seek to manufacture 10 billion doses. …”
See also Reuters - New WTO chief calls for tripling of vaccine production
“The new chief of the World Trade Organization (WTO) urged its member states on Monday to work with pharmaceutical companies to license more COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in developing countries in order to triple global production….”
PS: The next formal TRIPS Council meeting is scheduled for March 10.
· PS: check out also this letter from Knowledge Ecology International (to the new WTO boss), on 4 things (other than the TRIPS waiver) WTO can do to address the pandemic.
· And TWN Coverage - South countries demand text-based negotiations on TRIPS waiver
The author doesn’t have much confidence in Ngozi’s “Third Way”, it appears…
Also worth reading from late last week:
“…WTO insiders said that consensus was more likely to build around a “third way” approach for voluntarily relaxing patent rights advocated by new WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – in light of stiff opposition from other countries in Europe and Asia to the formal waiver plan.
Informed observers also predicted that as a first step, the WTO was more likely to approve a much softer proposal by the “Ottawa Group” of 13 developed and emerging economies calling upon countries to voluntarily relax export restrictions and tariffs on key COVID-19 health products….”
· Geneva Health Files - The Third Way": A key to unlock TRIPS Waiver negotiations?
Analysis (Friday 25 Feb) “…The Third Way suggested by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO’s new director-general who assumes office on Monday, March 1, may pave the way for negotiations on the TRIPS Waiver proposal, sources in Geneva say. In her remarks recently, Okonjo-Iweala suggested the use of TRIPS flexibilities and the voluntary licensing approach to deftly address the pandemic. … … Based on conversations with diplomatic sources familiar with the proceedings at WTO, this story takes a closer look at the potential evolution of these discussions going forward.”
“… A few decisive events can shape these discussions, sources familiar with the matter with say. The rise in the number of variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virulence of these variants, the extent to which existing vaccines will be effective against these new variants, and elections in the countries opposing the waiver proposal. … And believe it or not, vaccine diplomacy could potentially spur discussions, with the increasing perception that western countries are losing out on influence, as powerful vaccine providers such as Russia and China are distributing home-grown vaccines to countries at the back of the vaccines queue. …”
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; https://www.ft.com/content/0654600f-92cc-47ad-bfe6-561db88f7019
Op-ed by the new WTO boss. “If we are to restore the organisation’s credibility, countries must set aside their differences.”
Still emphasizing her ‘Third Way’ here, and also shedding more light on her general WTO agenda: “…WTO members have a further responsibility to reject vaccine nationalism and protectionism while co-operating on promising new treatments and vaccines. We must find a “third way” on intellectual property that preserves the multilateral rules that encourage research and innovation while promoting licensing agreements to help scale-up manufacturing of medical products. Some pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and the Serum Institute of India are already doing this. More broadly, WTO members agree that the organisation needs reforms. But a lack of trust means they do not agree on what changes are needed or their sequencing. If we are to restore the WTO's credibility, we must set aside our differences and agree on reforms when trade ministers meet later this year….”
“The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Saturday that includes more than $11 billion in funding for the global pandemic response. The bill, which narrowly passed, includes $800 million for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Food for Peace program, $750 million for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention global funding, and about $10 billion in international affairs funding, which could support bilateral global health accounts, humanitarian aid, economic assistance, and possibly multilateral funding. It is unclear at this time exactly how all the funds in the broader international affairs account will be allocated….”
And a link:
For a quick overview of this policy brief, check out the accompanying blog (by C Lane & E Smitham) - Supporting COVID-19 Recovery and Improving Health Outcomes: The Case for Health Taxes
“This blog and the accompanying CGD Policy Brief are a follow-up to the 2019 “Health Taxes Save Lives” report by the co-chaired by Michael Bloomberg and Lawrence Summers. … … Now, more than ever, health taxes have a vital role to play in improving health outcomes and raising revenue to recover from the impacts of Covid-19. In our accompanying , we show how beneficial health taxes could be for many low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), and outline the crucial role of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in moving this forward….”
Rob Yates (Chatham House) nails it.
Edited by A Schnabel & I Kickbusch; https://www.graduateinstitute.ch/sites/internet/files/2021-03/The%20Security%20Sector%20and%20Health%20Crises.pdf
Launched yesterday. “This book draws lessons from over 30 international experts on the Ebola crisis in West Africa to highlight opportunities for cooperation between the health and security sectors to successfully address global health crises.”
“Jasminka Dedić responds to a recent post by Branko Milanović on ‘magical thinking’ among the proponents of the degrowth agenda.” Fabulous response. One of the reads of the week.
“The latest round of national climate pledges falls “far short of what is required” to achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, according to new UN analysis.”
“A new “synthesis report” from UN Climate Change examines the combined impact of the 48 new and updated “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) submitted by its end-of-year deadline. Countries were meant to set more ambitious targets by the close of 2020, but the report shows that, overall, the level of ambition has only increased slightly. The combined emissions cuts of the new pledges are only around 3% lower by 2030 than the previous round of pledges submitted by those nations in 2015. Furthermore, with these targets in place their combined emissions would be just 0.5% lower in 2030 than in 2010 and 2.1% lower than in 2017– far off the 45% reduction in total CO2 emissions from 2010 scientists have said is required to keep warming below 1.5C. …”
P-M David et al ; https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17441692.2021.1893372
Must-read. “Some observers have described the coronavirus pandemic as an ‘Anthropocene disease,’ thereby highlighting its connection with this new ecological era that is characterised by the considerable pressure human activities are exerting on ecosystems and the consequences on public health, society and the environment. This article focuses on the recent emergence of the ‘Planetary Health’ paradigm. Launched by the Rockefeller Foundation and the medical journal The Lancet, Planetary Health is one of the most ambitious attempts in recent years to systematize global health in the Anthropocene. While recognising the interest and necessity of reflecting on human health and the health of the planet, this article aims to show, however, that the Planetary Health paradigm is problematic and aporetic for two reasons. First, because it is based on a scientistic and depoliticised conception of the Anthropocene, which obscures capitalism’s responsibility for the contemporary global and, especially, ecological crisis. Second, because this conception leads to a promotion of solutions that are essentially based on the financialization and technoscientific management of the living world – precisely the underlying cause of the degradation of ecosystems and living conditions that created the Anthropocene in the first place. A different kind of ‘planetary health’ remains possible and desirable.”
“A growing movement wants destruction of the environment to be treated like genocide and crimes against humanity.”
“…In November last year a group of international lawyers set about formally defining ecocide. The panel—which is co-chaired by Philippe Sands, a lawyer who has appeared before the ICC and the European Court of Justice and wrote a book about bringing the Nazis to justice, and Dior Fall Sow, a former UN international prosecutor—will publish its draft definition in June. After that, they hope, it will be proposed and eventually adopted as an amendment to the Rome Statute, which governs the work of the ICC. If it is, ecocide will be susceptible to all the frustrations and limitations that plague efforts to halt other international crimes. But it could also mark a turning-point in how the relationship between humans and the natural world is understood….”
J A Ocampo, J Stiglitz & J Ghosh; https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/letter-to-biden-on-international-corporate-taxation-by-jose-antonio-ocampo-et-al-2021-02
“As members of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT), we urge you to fulfill your promise to “lead efforts internationally to bring transparency to the global financial system, go after illicit tax havens, seize stolen assets, and make it more difficult for leaders who steal from their people to hide behind anonymous front companies.” To do that, your administration should engage actively in ongoing efforts to overhaul the international tax system to ensure fair taxation of multinationals, which is currently being discussed within the G20-mandated OECD process. … If G20 countries were to agree to impose a 25% minimum corporate tax (as the ICRICT advocates) on the global income of their multinational firms, more than 90% of worldwide profits would automatically be taxed at 25% or more. …”
With a good overview of current OECD (tax) discussions, and what needs to be done (more).
And a WEF blog (by Alex Cobham): Here’s a simple and fair way to end corporate tax abuse
METR Proposal: “Current proposals to tackle tax abuse are complex and unequal. A minimum effective tax rate will reallocate undertaxed profits with substantial benefits for non tax-havens. With a single rule for all countries and multinationals, there is no need for treaty changes.”
From last week.
Coverage via Bloomberg: G-20 Moves Toward Consensus on IMF Reserve Firepower Boost.
“ “After nearly a year of deadlock and pandemic, Oxfam is encouraged that the G20 is paving the path toward an issuance of International Monetary Fund (IMF) SDRs to boost global liquidity. … “IMF shareholders must act urgently and decisively to approve a new SDR allocation at the Spring meetings in April. We need stronger collaboration between countries and an ‘all things necessary’ strategy to tackle this slowly-exploding economic crisis, including cancelling debt and increasing aid. Allocating new SDRs is a way through which the rhetoric of cooperation can be made real and help the lives of millions of people.”
(gated) “With the support of the U.S. for a new issuance, it's looking more likely that African nations will have Special Drawing Rights to help finance vaccine purchases and more for their COVID-19 recoveries.”
“G20 major economies have agreed to raise International Monetary Fund reserves with a new allocation of the fund’s own special drawing rights (SDRs) currency, the IMF’s head said on Tuesday, in a potential boost for lending to poor countries. “We finally last Friday at the G20 meeting got a green (light) to work on a new SDR allocation,” Kristalina Georgieva said during the IMF’s African Fiscal Forum, broadcast online. “500 billion - in which each and every member of the IMF would receive its own share immediately contributing to reserves,” she said, without specifying the currency unit….”
“Covid-19 continues to threaten services, but malaria will not be beaten without new, disruptive tech, says WHO malaria chief Dr Pedro Alonso.”
“Efforts to tackle malaria need to remain on a “worst-case scenario” footing this year, according to the World Health Organization, as Covid-19 continues to threaten services. Last year the pandemic probably led to an extra 40-50,000 malaria deaths, said the director of the WHO’s global malaria programme, Dr Pedro Alonso. That is far from the most dire predictions of a doubling of the number of malaria deaths to almost 800,000 as the pandemic hit health services and prevention initiatives worldwide. But it is still not a success story, Dr Alonso said. “
“The message we are trying to get across is that this is far from over. We cannot say we did great last year, it will be okay this year,” he told the Telegraph. “We have to really get ready again for the worst-case scenario, and be ready for the unexpected.” However, he said one hope from the pandemic was that vaccines and the vaccine industry had been given such a boost that they would also now be reconsidered as a tool for other diseases, like malaria. … He said new technologies like the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna could also potentially be used to protect against malaria, which is spread by mosquitoes. … “We need new tools for the fight against malaria,” said Dr Alonso. “We accept that we were putting minimal efforts into developing a malaria vaccine. Bed nets are reasonable, the medicines we have are ok, but it is clear that with those tools, we are not going to make any further progress. We need new, disruptive tools, and a vaccine must be priority number one.” “
Seems like a mRNA vaccine is in the works for malaria. Still early days, though. Not yet tested on humans.
“UNAIDS welcomes the United Nations General Assembly decision for a high-level meeting on HIV and AIDS to take place between 8 and 10 June 2021. The high-level meeting will review the progress made in reducing the impact of HIV since the last United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on HIV and AIDS in 2016 and the General Assembly expects to adopt a new political declaration to guide the future direction of the response. The high-level meeting will take place as the world marks 40 years since the first case of AIDS was reported and 25 years of UNAIDS….”
With focus on key trends, WHO messages & new initiatives in this section.
“After a 6-week decline, global COVID-19 cases are on the rise again, a concerning development balanced against the backdrop of promising vaccine launches in Ghana and Ivory Coast, the first nations to receive their COVAX doses. At a World Health Organization (WHO) media briefing today, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said even as immunization gains traction, vaccines alone won't keep people safe. Globally, cases have increased for the first time in 7 weeks, with infection on the rise in four of the WHO's six regions. They include the Americas, Europe, South East Asia, and the Eastern Mediterranean. "This is disappointing, but not surprising," he said, adding that officials are working to better understand the increased transmission, which Tedros said may partly reflect relaxing of public health measures, circulation of variant viruses, and people letting down their guard. "Vaccines will help to save lives, but if countries rely solely on vaccines, they’re making a mistake," he said….”
As for Covax, “Dr Tedros said a further 11 million doses will be distributed through the initiative this week, rising to 277 million by the end of May. …”
“Dr Michael Ryan says Covid-19 is ‘very much in control’ as global infections rise for first time in almost two months.”
“… Speaking at a press briefing Geneva, Dr Michael Ryan said while vaccinating the most vulnerable people, including healthcare workers, would help remove the “tragedy and fear” from the situation, and would help to ease pressure on hospitals, the “virus is very much in control”. “It will be very premature, and I think unrealistic, to think that we’re going to finish with this virus by the end of the year,” Ryan said. “If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalisation, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic.” …”
“The UN Security Council [last week] on Friday unanimously passed a resolution calling on all Member States to support a “sustained humanitarian pause” to local conflicts, in order to allow for COVID-19 vaccinations. Briefing journalists afterwards, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus argued that more could be done. “
“While welcoming the historic resolution and upholding the importance of vaccine equity, he said that “concrete steps should be taken” to waive intellectual property rights to increase vaccine production “and get rid of this virus as soon as possible”. …”
“WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Gheyebresus [last week] on Friday issued his strongest call to date for a waiver on intellectual property related to COVID vaccines, medicines and other health products – which is due to be considered next week by the World Trade Organization’s General Council. While welcoming a new UN Security Council resolution also approved on Friday, which calls for broader access to COVID vaccines in conflict zones and poor countries, Dr Tedros stressed that the UN resolution needed to be accompanied by concrete global actions of the kind that the WTO was positioned to take – by relaxing rules that restrict the generic manufacture and trade in patented COVID vaccines and health products.
“I’m glad the UN Security Council has voted in favour of vaccine equity. And at the same time, if we’re going to take practical solutions, then the waiver of intellectual property should be taken seriously,” Tedros told the media at the body’s bi-weekly COVID-19 briefing. … … Referring to joint South African/India proposed TRIPS [Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights] waiver to be discussed at the WTO, Tedros said that the pandemic was a “once-in-100-years occurrence”, so if the waiver “can’t be used now, when will it be used?”
PS: … Voluntary Licenses Could Also Be Tool For Increasing Manufacturing Capacity & Tech Transfer
“WHO special adviser Bruce Aylward stressed that pharma should also issue more ‘voluntary licenses’ to firms in other countries for the generic manufacture of life-saving vaccines as a means of increasing vaccine manufacturing capacity and ease supplies. .”
(Coverage of media briefing WHO last week Friday) Tedros also begins to sound like a broken record on this one: “Countries seeking their own COVID-19 vaccine doses are making deals with drug companies that threaten the supply for the global COVAX programme for poor and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization said [last week] on Friday.”
Absolutely outrageous that this sort of thing still happens, in 2021.
“Members of Wuhan team say authorities’ claim virus entered city on frozen food highly unlikely.”
“World Health Organization investigators have downplayed a Chinese theory that coronavirus was brought to Wuhan through frozen food, underlining the charged geopolitics surrounding the roots of Covid-19. Vladimir Dedkov from the Institute Pasteur in St Petersburg, Russia and Fabian Leendertz, an emerging diseases specialist at Germany's Robert Koch Institute, both told the Financial Times that it was extremely unlikely the first cases of Sars-Cov-2 identified in Wuhan in 2019 entered the city on frozen or refrigerated goods….”
“A World Health Organization team investigating the origins of COVID-19 is planning to scrap an interim report on its recent mission to China amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and an appeal from one international group of scientists for a new probe, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. In Geneva, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in an email reply: “The full report is expected in coming weeks”….”
“A new interactive map highlights 1172 attacks and threats against health workers, facilities, and transport around the world during 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed health systems to their limit and sparked widespread violence against frontline health workers. Some 412 of these 1172 incidents were directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic and response measures, such as the arson of COVID-19 testing facilities, the targeting of health workers on their way home from clinics, and violent responses to mask requirements. The COVID-19-related attacks reveal a disturbing new dimension of violence against health care, which has in the past related primarily to attacks on health care amid armed conflict or routine health services provision….”
Coverage via Telegraph - India and Mexico emerge as hotspots for attacks on Covid health workers
See also last week’s IHP news (on the newly set up ACT-A COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce) . “More than 1.1 million cylinders of oxygen are needed by COVID-19 patients in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) every day and patients are going without because hospitals can't keep up with demand, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)…”
PS: “While the Oxygen Emergency Taskforce mostly consists of aid organizations, a February editorial in Fortune put the onus on manufacturers. "Fixing the problem requires leadership from the companies that dominate the industry," writes Jayasree Iyer, PhD, ScM, executive director of the Access to Medicine Foundation. Iyer highlights Air Liquide as one prominent oxygen manufacturer that has taken action. Not only has the France-based company made large amounts of liquid oxygen available at cost, it has issued a "force majeure" to reallocate resources in South Africa from industrial oxygen clients to public hospitals. It has also provided six liquid oxygen trailers in Brazil and partnered with UNICEF to supply primary healthcare facilities in Senegal. Still, Iyer says, the world needs coordinated solutions that can be scaled up. Interventions recommended by an August 2020 McKinsey & Co. commentary on COVID-related critical oxygen shortages in LMICs include additional oxygen concentrators and a needs-based shift from industrial oxygen for sectors such as garment and steel manufacturing to medical oxygen (an area that makes up 3% of global oxygen production). The one long-term solution the authors advocate is to increase the capacity of the medical oxygen companies, which would require better equipment, training, and distribution.”
“….the Access to Medicine Foundation has been partnering with the to engage oxygen companies and other stakeholders on the access issue. Our aim is to push for change, in the same way as we have done for more than 15 years in pharmaceuticals, since it is clear the medical gas industry can and should do more….”
See also a Lancet World Report - Medical oxygen crisis: a belated COVID-19 response
“ More than a year into the pandemic, global health agencies have set up a taskforce to address the vast unmet demand for medical oxygen. Ann Danaiya Usher reports.”
… The global pandemic response mechanism, the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), has been slow to take up the issue. During the first year of the pandemic, ACT-A and its donors have concentrated overwhelmingly on developing new vaccines. Other tools like oxygen and personal protective equipment failed to generate the same level of interest and engagement….”
“When ACT-A was launched in April, 2020, it had three focal points: vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Oxygen was introduced in November when a fourth pillar on health systems was added with a fundraising target of $1·6 billion. While the requests for the first three ACT-A pillars were based on detailed costing and a clear target to reach 20% of people with the new tools, the health system pillar contained no such details. Only a small proportion of donor support to ACT-A ended up being earmarked for the fourth pillar. The first indication that oxygen was being given higher priority came on Feb 9, 2021, when ACT-A presented a new budget and strategy. Oxygen was moved out of the health system pillar and into the therapeutics pillar, under the responsibility of the Wellcome Trust and UNITAID. Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources closely involved with ACT-A told The Lancet that this was a way of lifting the attention on oxygen….”
“U.S. holds back for now amid ethical and practical concerns. “
“The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has called for temporary basic income for millions of the world’s poorest women, to help them cope with effects of coronavirus pandemic and alleviate the economic pressures they face every day. In a report released on Thursday, UNDP highlighted that the financial support could prevent rising poverty and widening gender inequality, especially in developing countries….”
“Across the globe, governments are weighing up how they can convince sufficiently large numbers of people to take a Covid-19 vaccine in order to reach herd immunity. But an international survey (by Imperial College London) shows vaccine confidence is already on the rise even though relatively few countries have launched public awareness campaigns, with the fear of missing out on a jab suggested as one driver….
“The only global trial of potential COVID-19 treatments is languishing. The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Solidarity trial, set up last year to quickly test potential COVID-19 therapies with tens of thousands of patients, produced headlines in October 2020 when it showed that four candidate treatments offer little benefit. But since then, it hasn’t launched any new tests. On 27 January, John-Arne Røttingen, who works at Norway’s foreign ministry and chairs the trial’s executive group, pulled the plug on the study’s only remaining arm, which tested the antiviral remdesivir. “The Solidarity trial is now on pause,” he says. The executive group discussed potential new targets at a meeting on 24 February, and Røttingen hopes to restart the trial in a few weeks. But observers are dismayed at the pause in the challenging but important trial….”
Update on Solidarity & also the UK’s Recovery trial.
From last week. “In this edition, we provide working definitions for SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest and variants of concern and the associated actions WHO will take to support Member States, their national public health institutes and reference laboratories, along with the recommended actions Member States should take.”
Cfr tweet Kai Kupferschmidt: “They put the bar low for VOI and high for VOC, which seems the smart thing to do to me.”
“Most viruses become less deadly as they mutate. This one may be different.”
“Studies ‘urgently needed’ to check efficacy of current vaccines against strain, researchers say.”
“… The P.1 Covid-19 variant that was identified in Brazil is about twice as transmissible as some other virus strains and is more likely to evade the natural immunity usually conferred by prior infection, according to an international study. The research, conducted by a UK-Brazilian team of researchers from institutions including Oxford university, Imperial College London the University of São Paulo, found that the P.1 variant was between 1.4 and 2.2 times more transmissible than other variants circulating in Brazil. It was also “able to evade 25-61 per cent of protective immunity elicited by previous infection” with another variant, the researchers found, a sign that current vaccines could also be less effective against it….”
“Researchers and doctors are sounding the alarm over a new, more aggressive coronavirus strain from the Amazon area of Brazil, which they believe is responsible for a recent rise in deaths, as well as infections in younger people, in parts of South America…. … The new variant, known as P.1, is 1.4 to 2.2 times more contagious than versions of the virus previously found in Brazil, and 25% to 61% more capable of reinfecting people who had been infected by an earlier strain, according to a study released Tuesday. With mass vaccination a long way off across the region, countries such as Brazil risk becoming a breeding ground for potent versions of the virus that could render current Covid-19 vaccines less effective, public-health specialists warned….”
HPW - Brazil’s Spike in COVID-19 Infections Raises WHO Concerns (PAHO concerns more in particular, via Carissa Etienne).
C Murray & P Piot; https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2777343
“This Viewpoint discusses the prospect that COVID-19 could become a recurrent seasonal disease like influenza and proposes strategies to mitigate the consequences for communities and health systems, including changes in surveillance, medical and public health response, and socioeconomic programs.”
“… If new variants continue to appear, winter surges may become the norm. This prospect requires advance planning and consideration of a range of strategies to mitigate the consequences for communities and health systems. Five strategies should be considered and vigorously debated in the months ahead. …”
Conclusion: “It is not clear whether COVID-19 will become a chronic seasonal disease. There is too much uncertainty about the probability and frequency of emergence of new variants, the reduction in vaccine efficacy for each variant, the critical question of cross-variant immunity, and the consistency of safe human behavior. However, the prospect of persistent and seasonal COVID-19 is real. If immunity from infection for the same SARS-CoV-2 variant or vaccine-derived immunity wanes, the prospect would increase further. There is much to learn in the coming months about variants, vaccines, and immunity. Recurrent seasonal COVID-19 could require both health system change and profound cultural adjustment for the life of high-risk individuals in the winter months. There is an urgent need to prepare for such a scenario by aligning surveillance, medical response, public health response, and socioeconomic programs.”
“When experts envision the future of the coronavirus, many predict that it will become a seasonal pathogen that won’t be much more than a nuisance for most of us who have been vaccinated or previously exposed to it. But how long that process takes — and how much damage the virus inflicts in the interim — is still anyone’s guess….”
“Chris Murray, a University of Washington disease expert whose projections on COVID-19 infections and deaths are closely followed worldwide, is changing his assumptions about the course of the pandemic. Murray had until recently been hopeful that the discovery of several effective vaccines could help countries achieve herd immunity, or nearly eliminate transmission through a combination of inoculation and previous infection. But in the last month, data from a vaccine trial in South Africa showed not only that a rapidly-spreading coronavirus variant could dampen the effect of the vaccine, it could also evade natural immunity in people who had been previously infected. “I couldn’t sleep” after seeing the data, Murray, director of the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told Reuters. “When will it end?” he asked himself, referring to the pandemic. … A new consensus is emerging among scientists, according to Reuters interviews with 18 specialists who closely track the pandemic or are working to curb its impact. Many described how the breakthrough late last year of two vaccines with around 95% efficacy against COVID-19 had initially sparked hope that the virus could be largely contained, similar to the way measles has been. But, they say, data in recent weeks on new variants from South Africa and Brazil has undercut that optimism. They now believe that SARS-CoV-2 will not only remain with us as an endemic virus, continuing to circulate in communities, but will likely cause a significant burden of illness and death for years to come. …”
“Coronaviruses closely related to the pandemic virus have been found in bats and pangolins in Asia.”
“As a World Health Organization team digs into the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, other scientists are unearthing tantalizing new clues suggesting that the virus behind it evolved naturally to infect humans. At least four recent studies have identified coronaviruses closely related to the pandemic strain in bats and pangolins in Southeast Asia and Japan, a sign that these pathogens are more widespread than previously known and that there was ample opportunity for the virus to evolve….”
“In the wake of the World Health Organization’s investigation, there are still key questions about when, where and how the pandemic began.”
“Studies from China suggest that the coronavirus can be transmitted on frozen surfaces — but scientists say that’s unlikely to be how the pandemic started.”
“ Vaccines from AstraZeneca, Russia’s Gamaleya Institute and Johnson & Johnson fight the coronavirus with another virus, leaving scientists concerned the shots may lose potency if annual inoculations become necessary to fight new variants….”
“The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, the third vaccine to be cleared for use in the United States and the first that requires only one dose….” As you now, this will be a key vaccine for LMICs (and Covax)
See also Devex - Hydroxychloroquine 'no longer a research priority,' WHO says
“Healthcare workers with obesity found to produce only about half the antibodies healthy people do.”
Updates on the TRIPS waiver proposal negotiations (and ongoing WTO discussions) you already got above, here we focus on all other Covid vaccine access info: like COVAX (with among others a media briefing on Tuesday), pricing, vaccine diplomacy, vaccine geopolitics, …
Recommended analysis (as of 3 March). “1 billion vaccine doses have been ordered by African countries and the African Union, but only 1.5% of these have been delivered so far. That’s not a headline you will read anywhere else. The news elsewhere is typically dominated either by photos of planes arriving with vaccines from COVAX or China, with the aim of demonstrating global “solidarity” with African countries, or with painful messages of African nations falling behind. The real picture is somewhere in-between, but importantly the real picture has to centre African countries and agency – not a case of charity, nor poor governance, at least for the vast majority of countries….”
Check out the ‘real picture’. On a number of issues (not just vaccines).
48 African countries have now made vaccine orders. 20 African countries have received vaccine deliveries (15.7 million doses) so far. So far doses delivered will cover only under 1 % of the population… 62 % of doses are from Covax, 17 % via the Chinese, and 14 % via India.
“Following from the publication of an interim distribution forecast, and based on current knowledge of supply availability, this first round of allocations provides information on provision of doses of the AstraZeneca(AZ)/Oxford vaccine to COVAX Facility participants, through May 2021. This first round of allocation outlines delivery of doses of the AZ/Oxford vaccine – manufactured by AstraZeneca (AZ) and COVISHIELD, licensed to and manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII/AZ) – to 142 Facility participants. Participants not listed have either exercised their rights to opt-out of this vaccine, wish to transfer allocated doses to AMC participants, are AMC-eligible but have not joined the AMC, have voluntarily delayed receipt of doses and communicated this intent ahead of allocation, or have not met financial requirements. This list will be updated by the end of the week to provide indicative timelines for the supply of these doses, split into Feb-March and April-May….”
Reuters coverage - COVAX vaccine programme to deliver 237 million doses to 142 nations by end-May.
Coverage of a COVAX media briefing on Tuesday: “The equitable coronavirus vaccine delivery initiative COVAX that has delivered its first doses to West Africa and Latin America in the past few days, is a credit to international solidarity, but potential obstacles must be overcome if a fully global rollout is to be achieved, UN health agency chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday. Speaking after Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Colombia received their first round of AstraZeneca(AZ)/Oxford jabs, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the distribution of vaccines “has not been as equitable as we would have liked, but it has certainly been more equitable than it would have been otherwise”….”
Still from the same COVAX media briefing. Framing of Covax by CEPI’s Hatchett: “Experts have hailed the great progress the world has made on achieving equal access to vaccines as the first Covid jabs were administered in Africa via the Covax-vaccine sharing scheme. … Dr Richard Hatchett, chief executive of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi), an organisation that funds vaccine development, drew comparisons between the global response to the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009 and the response to the Covid pandemic. He said that thanks to Covax, the world has already achieved more for vaccine equity in the last week and a half than it did in the first 12 weeks of the H1N1 pandemic….”
“… GAVI CEO Seth Berkley said that it might be possible to purchase “1,8 billion doses of vaccine in 2021 for the low and lower middle income AMC countries in 2021” – 500 million more doses than anticipated last year. … …
“… Flaschbarth (Germany) further indicated that the current financing gap of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator which includes COVAX, was over US$22 billion for 2021 alone. “To close this gap, it will be necessary to widen the donor base by further sustainable contribution of other public donors as well as the private sector,” she said. “Therefore, Germany very much welcomes the leadership of the current G7 and G20 presidencies putting equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics on the international agenda. This will be very helpful to mobilise more funding for the global medical answer to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) director John Nkengasong also said COVAX was beginning to show the power of global cooperation and the victory of “multilateralism versus protectionism”. Nkengasong added that the African Union Commission will host a meeting on 12 April “to develop a roadmap and a framework that will enable Africa to begin to address with specifics, the key milestones to begin to manufacture vaccines on the continent”. …”
M Eccleston-Turner et al; https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1468-0009.12503
Recommended read. “…This paper represents the first significant analysis of COVAX, and the extent to which it can be said to have successfully met its aims.”
Cfr tweet author: “In this paper @Heupton11 and I examine COVAX as a mechanism to push development of COVID vaccines and facilitate equitable access in LMICs. “
As for the answer: COVAX is doing better in terms of the first aim than the second, so far… (due to vaccine nationalism, mostly).
« … J&J submitted applications to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and WHO in mid February for conditional marketing authorization and emergency use listing (EUL). The EMA plans to meet in mid March to issue a decision. “We stand ready to begin distributing our vaccine within the European Union in the second quarter of 2021,” said Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer of J&J, in a statement. The EU has a purchase agreement with J&J, securing 200 million doses, with the option to order another 200 million.
J&J and Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, expect to enter into an advance purchase agreement to provide 500 million doses of the vaccine to COVAX by 2022. The granting of an EUL by WHO is a prerequisite to supply vaccines to the COVAX Facility. …”
This article did the rounds on social media this week, and for good reason: On the Incepta plant in Bangladesh: “… It is one of three factories that The Associated Press found on three continents whose owners say they could start producing hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines on short notice if only they had the blueprints and technical know-how. But that knowledge belongs to the large pharmaceutical companies who produce the first three vaccines authorized by countries including Britain, the European Union and the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. The factories are all still awaiting responses….
M Kavanagh, M Pillinger et al ; https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/03/01/to-democratize-vaccine-access-democratize-production/
“U.S. and European COVID-19 shots aren’t enough. It is time to tap into Africa, Asia, and Latin America’s enormous production capacity….”
Good analysis of the pricing debate.
« …In addition to public investment, income-level, and willingness to provide price confidentiality, countries have been told that the timing of orders and delivery impacts price. …”
Quote: “… “COVID-19 vaccine prices reflect what it has always been about: power dynamics,” says Torreele. “When you have monopolies or scarcity, then it is all about power. What the public and politicians realise now is that, despite massive public investments received by companies, all the power for vaccine price setting has been left in the hands of private companies,” she says.
… The need for greater pricing transparency is in fact already widely recognised…”
“China's first Ad5-nCoV COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out on Friday. One of the developers of the single-dose vaccine said that the annual production capacity can reach 500 million doses, which means 500 million people can be vaccinated in a year….”
They have no shame. “Amid the high-stakes fight against COVID-19, a company at the forefront of the vaccine effort is laying plans to hike prices after the crisis. A top Pfizer exec said the drugmaker aims to charge more after the "pandemic pricing environment," and an influential analyst says the company could be eying prices 3 to 4 times higher….”
“Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has called on Johnson & Johnson to send its first shipments to COVAX for low- and middle-income countries, rather than high-income countries, should it get FDA approval at its meeting on Friday. MSF said the vaccine could be an important tool in low-resource settings as, unlike the other COVID-19 vaccines being used today, it requires only one dose and can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures. Preliminary data from a phase 3 trial testing the vaccine also suggests that the vaccine is effective against the 501Y.V2 COVID-19 variant, first identified in South Africa. “J&J should supply low- and middle-income countries and immediately fulfil its pledge to the COVAX Facility,” said Dana Gill, US Policy Advisor, MSF Access Campaign….”
“ Merck & Co Inc will help make rival Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine in a partnership set to be announced on Tuesday by U.S. President Joe Biden, a White House official said on Tuesday….”
“… governments across the region have turned to Russia’s Sputnik V drug amid fears of being left behind in the global scramble for vaccines….”
The Economist’s framing of COVAX: “The vaccine-sharing scheme is designed to help poor countries compete in the vaccination race.” Interesting to see what the Economist focuses on, and what they omit.
“…One of the scheme’s motivations is humanitarian. Another is to hinder the emergence of new variants resistant to the vaccines (the more widely a virus spreads, the more likely it is to mutate). “
“… The good news is that more countries are stepping up their contributions. Last week leaders of the G7, a club of advanced economies, pledged $4.3bn in new funding, bringing the total amount committed so far to $10.3bn. The scheme is just $800m short of this year’s target.”
Corporate PR. “Shell is supporting the global initiative to make vaccines more widely available, protecting people, health-care systems and economies around the world.”
“Europe’s drug regulator is auditing the manufacturing site of the Serum Institute of India (SII), a source with knowledge of the matter said, a necessary step before AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine made there can be exported to the bloc….”
See also Politico - UK to import vaccine doses from India amid global jabs race
“… both the U.K and EU now look poised to get Oxford/AstraZeneca from the Serum Institute of India (SII), which has been expected to be the main source of supply for less wealthy countries….”
PS: This week’s Politico newsletter also zoomed in on this question - the potential impact of rich countries buying vaccines from the Serum Institute of India.
Quote: “Bruce Aylward, one of the top World Health Organization officials working on COVAX, warned that other demands on the Serum Institute “do put a strain potentially on the supply, to be very frank.”
“The Indian vaccine-maker may account for almost half the world’s supply … … Mr Poonawalla estimates that until rivals’ new capacity comes online in the autumn, his company’s output will account for perhaps 40-50% of the world’s supply….”
But then again, that leader from Austria was always something of a well-dressed thug, so no surprise to see him getting along with Netanyahu (another thug).
See also FT Times – Austria and Denmark forge ‘vaccine alliance’ with Israel
“EU jab strategy under strain amid growing anxiety over bloc’s slow inoculation drive.”
“The EU’s coronavirus vaccination strategy was under growing strain on Monday as anxiety over the bloc’s sluggish inoculation drive triggered internal divisions on how to fight the pandemic. Austria and Denmark intend to forge a “vaccine alliance” with Israel to fight future waves of coronavirus, while Slovakia announced that it is buying 2m doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen are travelling to Jerusalem this week to discuss a new joint-approach with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, officials from Vienna and Copenhagen told the Financial Times. An Austrian chancellery official familiar with the plans said that at the core of discussions were plans to construct in-country production facilities for mRNA vaccines. The three countries are in talks with Pfizer and Moderna about the factories….”
“A three-way collaboration between Israel, Austria and Denmark to expand COVID vaccine manufacturing capacity may be taking shape – just as the Israeli-based firm, Teva Pharmaceuticals, negotiates with vaccine manufacturers about ways to support desperately-needed global expansion of vaccine production and distribution capacity. … The high-profile visits, if they come off, coincide with a quest by Moderna Therapeutics to set up some 20 new manufacturing plants around the world where “fill and finish” vaccine manufacture could start immediately, Israeli sources told Health Policy Watch. But rather than Israel, per se, Moderna may be eyeing Teva facilities in Europe or elsewhere, the same sources also said. Teva, while based in Israel, has a worldwide network of over 61 manufacturing plants, including sites in Austria and Denmark as well as elsewhere in Europe. A spokesperson for Teva, the world’s largest generic drug manufacturing company, confirmed to Health Policy Watch on Wednesday that “there are discussions between Teva and vaccine originators about production – but we have no information to add about their identity.” In a series of mid-February media interviews Teva CEO Kare Schultz said, however, that Teva was ready to fill the gaping holes in the COVID-19 vaccine manufacture market. …”
Update as of Thursday (Reuters) - Israel, Austria and Denmark establish vaccine-supply alliance
“ Israel, Austria and Denmark said on Thursday they would set up a joint research and development fund and possibly production facilities for COVID-19 vaccines to ensure they had long-term supplies for booster shots or to contend with virus mutations….”
“The move (a first) threatens to increase global tensions over procurement of Covid jabs.”
NYT framing of vaccine diplomacy. ‘Vaccines are the new soft power.”
“The coronavirus threat is global. So is the remedy.”
Quote: “While conquering the virus is the obvious and primary reason for the United States to pitch in, there is also this: It is very much in America’s national interest not to cede a critical “soft power” advantage to autocratic rivals like Russia or China…”
“Biden administration in talks with Japan, India and Australia to distribute jabs across region.”
“… The US is working with Japan, India and Australia to develop a plan to distribute Covid-19 vaccines to countries in Asia as part of a broader strategy to counter China’s influence. The White House has held discussions with other members of the Quad, a diplomatic and security initiative between the countries, in recent weeks, according to six people familiar with the talks….”
“…China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press. With just four of China’s many vaccine makers claiming they are able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world’s population will end up inoculated not with the fancy Western vaccines boasting headline-grabbing efficacy rates, but with China’s humble, traditionally made shots….”
“Amid a dearth of public data on China’s vaccines, hesitations over their efficacy and safety are still pervasive in the countries depending on them, along with concerns about what China might want in return for deliveries. Nonetheless, inoculations with Chinese vaccines already have begun in more than 25 countries, and the Chinese shots have been delivered to another 11, according to the AP tally, based on independent reporting in those countries along with government and company announcements….”
“…China has said it is supplying “vaccine aid” to 53 countries and exports to 27, but it rejected a request by the AP for the list. Beijing has also denied vaccine diplomacy, and a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said China considered the vaccine a “global public good.” Chinese experts reject any connection between the export of its vaccines and the revamping of its image….”
Good update on the Chinese vaccine diplomacy. “ The country has made exports of vaccines a priority, in the form of donations and commercial deals. But the focus may shift to upping the pace of inoculation domestically, with under 4 per cent of its people having had a jab.”
“…the focus may be shifting as China appears set to ramp up vaccinations at home. The country’s leading respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan this week said China aimed to vaccinate 40 per cent of its 1.4 billion population by the end of July, according to a Reuters report.”
“Meeting the 40 per cent target would require a massive increase in daily vaccinations and public willingness to take the jabs, but experts say it is unlikely to curb China’s ambitions as a global supplier of doses, now a cornerstone of its pandemic foreign policy response….”
Analysis. “While global COVID-19 vaccine procurement and donations developments are very fluid, Health Policy Watch has tracked a vast trade in vaccines across Africa and other continents. And it is clear that Chinese and Russian vaccines are deeply penetrating markets in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) – declarations of global solidarity by G-20 countries notwithstanding….”
“….It is on the African continent where the Chinese vaccines are being marketed the most intensively – and perhaps embraced the most extensively. Beijing has confirmed that it is assisting 21 African countries to get vaccines, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin. Significantly, Egypt, Africa’s fourth largest country, has signed an agreement with China’s Sinovac to produce its COVID vaccine, as well as distribute it to other African countries. That represents the fruits of a Chinese vaccine outreach initiative that began months ago….”
“…Its “vaccine diplomacy” involved three things, according to April: the country’s desire to be viewed as a “trusted friend, business and political control”….”
“Indonesia has authorised one of the world’s first private vaccination schemes to run alongside its national programme so that companies can buy state-procured vaccines to inoculate their staff in Southeast Asia’s biggest country….”
“Nearly a year after WHO declared the covid-19 pandemic, Elisabeth Mahase reports on the latest developments in vaccines, variants, and diplomacy.”
On the diplomacy: “…There have been some small but positive developments in this area. Portugal has announced it will send 5% (1.75 million doses) of its covid-19 vaccines to a group of Portuguese speaking African countries and East Timor in the second half of 2021. These countries, including Angola (population 32 million) and Mozambique (30 million), are former colonies of Portugal. Portugal has just over 10 million people but is entitled to 35 million vaccine doses as part of the EU scheme….”
“Nigeria has received the largest single shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the WHO global COVAX initiative to date – with initial delivery of some 3.92 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines out of a total of 16 million doses that have been allocated to the country through the platform for the first half of 2021. But the fact that Nigeria, a country of 201 million people – will only receive some 16 million vaccine doses through the global platform – enough to vaccinate roughly 4% of the population in the first stages – highlights the huge discrepancy between the aims of the global initiative and reality….”
“… While the COVAX deliveries are well short of the doses that would be needed to achieve herd immunity, Nigeria is relying on the African Union’s African Vaccination Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) platform to secure more doses for the country. The AU has pre-ordered over 700 million doses of vaccine. Early in February 2021, Ehanire projected that Nigeria will be able to secure vaccine doses for about 45% of its population in 2021 – through acquisition of some 42 million more doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the AVATT platform. “… … . In addition to COVAX and AVATT, however, the health minister also revealed Nigeria is holding bilateral negotiations aimed at securing doses of Sputnik V vaccine produced by Russia’s Gamaleya, as well as doses of COVAXIN, India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, which has just released interim Phase 3 results.”…”
“Bolivia, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua are set to receive the next COVID-19 vaccine distributions to Latin America from the COVAX project, Pan American Health Organization Director Carissa Etienne said Wednesday. Two of those countries, El Salvador and Bolivia, are part of the World Health Organization’s First Wave initiative, a global pilot program that delivers a limited number of doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech to countries as part of the quota allotted by COVAX. Colombia and Peru are also participating….”
“… She said that through May, PAHO expects 28.7 million doses to arrive in the region, where 36 countries are participating in COVAX, the global equitable vaccine access platform. According to WHO, the region will need to vaccinate approximately 700 million people to control the pandemic. … After COVAX announced country allocations last week, the first doses sent to Latin America and the Caribbean arrived in Colombia on Monday. Those 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are just the beginning of the 20 million that Colombia anticipates receiving from COVAX this year. …”
“Big Pharma is fighting for tight control over Covid-19 vaccine production, limiting availability worldwide while reaping billions.” “Joe Biden’s administration is being asked to punish Hungary, Colombia, Chile, and other countries for seeking to ramp up the production of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics without express permission from pharmaceutical companies. The sanctions are being urged by the drug industry, which has filed hundreds of pages of documents to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative outlining the alleged threat posed by any effort to challenge “basic intellectual property protections” in the response to the coronavirus pandemic….”
Related tweet Els Torreele: “And the same Big Pharma groups are discussing with #COVAX, a @WHO @GAVI @CEPI led initiative that is meant to accelerate global and equitable access to #covid-19 vaccines, how to expand manufacturing capacity. Could there be anything wrong with this picture?”
Finally, some bits & pieces:
· Via Politico: “….Former CDC director Tom Frieden and Resolve to Save Lives’ Marine Buissonnière argued in POLITICO this week that the U.S. should help facilitate production of mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-/BioNTech and Moderna in low- and middle-income countries….”
· Global day of Action (11 March): Public Citizen and other organizations behind the People’s Vaccine campaign will hold a global day of action March 11 to urge universal access. That falls on the one-year anniversary of WHO declaring the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
Fabulous piece. “Getting rid of the virus completely now seems an impossible project. But there are powerful arguments in its favour.”
Insightful interview with John Nkengasong. Via the Continent.
“…Covax represents a symbol of global co-operation and solidarity, but it has always been very clear that they will give you, as a continent, 20% of your vaccines. And there’s no way to get rid of Covid with 20% vaccination; we need at least 60%. Europe is trying to vaccinate 80%. The United States is trying to vaccinate everybody. They will finish vaccinating, impose travel restrictions and then Africa becomes “the continent of Covid”….”
“What do you think about the call for a waiver on patents for Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organisation? I’m very supportive of it, but we should look at it in a comprehensive way. Let’s think through how we get continental manufacturing. We don’t need to start by transferring intellectual property. Look at what Serum [Institute] is doing in India. It’s not intellectual property, it’s just: “OK, you can manufacture there.” In the coming weeks, Africa CDC will be convening a meeting and we’ll bring all stakeholders to that — member states, investors, banks, development partners and their funders — to have a comprehensive discussion, about how a continent of 1.2-billion people, potentially 2.4-billion in 30 years, cannot be reliant on Serum Institute, a family business in India, to secure its health security….”
“The first year of the Covid-19 pandemic precipitated human rights crises around the world, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. As the one-year mark of the World Health Organization declaring the spread of Covid-19 a pandemic approaches, many countries should urgently change course to ensure a rights-respecting exit from this public health crisis. Governments should work together to scale up vaccine manufacturing and distribution to achieve universal and equitable vaccine access. The 54-page report, “Future Choices: Charting an Equitable Exit from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” documents how the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare systemic frailties in the protection of basic rights and spurred a cascade of human rights abuses….”
“…Unless the United States recognizes the essential role played by CHWs, and provides the necessary funding to support them, we will not be able to improve equitable access to essential health services and interrupt the global spread of the virus….”
“…to vaccinate the global population, we can't just rely on the existing health-care workforce. Even before COVID-19, the world was already projected to be short 15 million health-care workers by 2030. The global vaccine roll-out over the next 24-36 months will add millions more to that deficit. CHWs, who are quick to train and deploy, can help fill this gap – if they are well supported….” So CHWs better be properly resourced.
“Intel agencies and public-health officials need to work together against security risks like Covid.”
“We need to view public health threats as a matter of national security. That includes intelligence agencies and public-health officials working together in more collaborative ways to guard against future pandemic risks like Covid….”
“Oussama Mezoui arges that developed countries' pandemic responses should be a wake up call for the aid and development sector's conditionalities.”
“The world’s poorest are becoming poorer as the impact of Covid compounds existing crises, says Disaster Emergency Committee.”
“…Thousands could starve in the world’s most fragile states as the pandemic comes on top of existing crises, warns a new report today which found aid workers are deeply pessimistic about the coming year. … The survey of aid workers by the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) found that they believed humanitarian conditions were at their worst in a decade. … The report focused on Syria, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan, as well as the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh….”
“A survey on confidence about being vaccinated against COVID-19 in 15 African countries indicates that work on communication around vaccines is needed. Udani Samarasekera reports.”
“Understanding what has gone right and what has gone wrong in the COVID-19 pandemic response, focusing on the places we work, learn, and travel, is critical to helping the world navigate this current crisis and address future threats. To advance this understanding, the Lancet COVID-19 Commission, established in mid-2020 with a goal of “assist[ing] governments, civil society, and UN institutions in responding effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic,” created the Task Force on Safe Work, Safe School, and Safe Travel. This Task Force is one of several created by the Commission to address specific areas of the COVID-19 crisis. This short report represents a summary of the work of the Task Force on Safe Work, Safe School, and Safe Travel and is intended to support the broader work of the Commission. This report is not, and was never intended to be, a full review of the scientific literature. Rather, it represents a distillation of scientific evidence and accumulated insight from real-world practice into six overarching key learnings and corresponding priority areas for organizations and societies to consider (Tables 1 and 2). Recognizing that this is not the last pandemic the world will face and that existing approaches in the places we work, learn, and travel helped to create conditions that led to this pandemic, we also include recommendations for fundamental shifts within each priority area….”
Start with the Editorial - Feminist Economic Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic (N Kabeer et al)
“This article provides a contextual framework for understanding the gendered dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic and its health, social, and economic outcomes. The pandemic has generated massive losses in lives, impacted people’s health, disrupted markets and livelihoods, and created profound reverberations in the home. In 112 countries that reported sex-disaggregated data on COVID-19 cases, men showed an overall higher infection rate than women, and an even higher mortality rate. However, women’s relatively high representation in sectors hardest hit by lockdown orders has translated into larger declines in employment for women than men in numerous countries. Evidence also indicates that stay-at-home orders have increased unpaid care workloads, which have fallen disproportionately to women. Further, domestic violence has increased in frequency and severity across countries. The article concludes that policy response strategies to the crisis by women leaders have contributed to more favorable outcomes compared to outcomes in countries led by men.”
Sandro Galea ; https://sandrogalea.substack.com/p/the-spherical-cow-problem
Recommended. “Do our ideas reflect the world as it is, or merely as we theorize it to be?”
Sandro Galea’s views on “Zero Covid”. He’s not convinced. Read why.
Read also some of his former (weekly) essays, like A case against moralism in public health
“We cannot finger-wag our way to a healthier world.”
Quote: “…in several cases, this moment has led public health to lean further into the business of telling people what to do. It has also, in my assessment, heightened a tendency among some to shame and condemn those who do not follow specific health advice. These tendencies have converged from time to time during the Covid-19 moment, and this has served to further politicize science and limit its scope, even at a moment of heightened influence for public health. For its part, public health has at times embraced this tendency to cast Covid-laxity as a moral failure, in the interest of encouraging wider compliance with pandemic protocols….”
“Though a hundred thousand people have died, initial predictions were far worse, giving rise to many theories on ‘the African paradox’.”
Excerpts: “… Along with his scientific colleagues on the Africa Task Force for Novel Coronavirus (Afcor), he agrees that this paradox can be explained mainly by the youth of African populations – the median age is 18 – and the relatively low prevalence of comorbidities including obesity and diabetes, especially among the poorest. It’s hard to discern cause and effect in messy epidemiological data, especially when such data is scarce, but there is now substantial evidence supporting the idea that the most powerful predictors of Covid-19 mortality are age and comorbidities – something African experts say their local experiences confirm. “
And on Africa CDC’s vaccination goals: “… Nkengasong’s goal is that 35% of Africans, mainly city-dwellers, should be vaccinated by the end of this year, and 60% by the end of 2022. That way, he says, it should be possible to reduce the continental epidemic to localised outbreaks, which can then be stamped out by public health campaigns – with the ultimate aim of ridding Africa of Covid-19 within five years. When he first proposed the 60% goal, he says, he was told by some beyond Africa that 20% was more realistic – the proportion of every population that is considered vulnerable to Covid-19. “But if you just vaccinate 20%, you remain a continent of Covid for ever,” he says. That’s because in Africa the disease is spread by the young, who are not considered vulnerable and who tend to experience mild or no symptoms, but often live in multigenerational households. Paradox or not, Nkengasong says, Africa can’t afford Covid-19.
Update as of 25 Feb (of Bloomberg’s Covid resilience ranking).
“The Covid Resilience Ranking is a snapshot of how the coronavirus pandemic is playing out in 53 major economies right now. …”
“… Vaccine rollout and access is proving to be a decisive factor in 2021, with challenges from logistics and storage to vaccine hesitancy….”
“…In this note, we review and overlay some of the features of the COVID crisis on earlier observed trends and dynamics and explore some of the changes and trends in development agency strategic direction brought about by the pandemic. We end with three fundamental challenges that bilateral development agencies will need to address, and which will define their development cooperation and international partnerships for the foreseeable future….”
J De Weerdt & W Van Damme; https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3793427
“COVID-19 mortality has remained low in the poorest countries, exposing the fragile link between prosperity and health. Emerging evidence suggests SARS-CoV-2 did spread widely in low-income countries, but infections were largely asymptomatic. We suggest the demographic transition, the epidemiological transition and the hygiene hypothesis as three useful frameworks to understand the paradoxical relation between human health and prosperity during the pandemic.”
A Mallard et al ; https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/3/e004655
“…This study highlights major gaps in data collation and analysis of COVID-19 by Indigenous status…”
“…Without available epidemiological data on Indigenous populations, it will also be difficult to justify vaccine prioritisation for these populations in some countries.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has cost lives and disrupted economic activity worldwide. It has impacted government budgets globally by reducing tax receipts and increasing spending on programs to save lives and transfer income to those adversely affected by the pandemic.”
A A Iyer et al ; https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n541
“Low and middle income countries must benefit, not just participate.”
“Thanks to an impressive R&D effort, three vaccines for COVID19 have been conditionally approved by stringent regulators as of February 2021, and sixteen have entered the WHO evaluation process. However, they all need to keep on being evaluated in clinical trials. The WHO Ad Hoc Expert Group on the Next Steps for Covid-19 Vaccine suggested that countries with limited or no access to an effective vaccine could ethically permit placebo-controlled trials, even if effective vaccines were already being marketed elsewhere. Here, I argue that inclusion in a placebo-controlled trial is ethically sound for those who would be in any case ineligible for vaccination outside the trial, and as long as the access to the vaccine outside the trial depends on a transparent and just allocation framework. Conversely, carrying out placebo-controlled studies in countries where vaccines are not (or are insufficiently) available because of unequal global allocation, would be unethical, as an ethical strategy cannot be built on an unethical premise.”
“A world divided between the vaccinated and unvaccinated promises relief for economies and families, but the ethical and practical risks are high.”
“Governments must remake the social contract for the 21st century.” Agree. On how to go about it, I tend to have a different opinion than the Economist : )
See also the Economist (Briefing) - The future of the welfare state: shelter from the storm. “The pandemic may mark a new chapter in the nature of social safety-nets.” “The pandemic has transformed the welfare state. Which changes will endure?”
Via the press release:
“A 'catastrophic education emergency' has seen children in 14 countries miss almost a year of in-school teaching, a Unicef report has found.” The majority in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says the mental health of millions of children worldwide has been put at risk, with at least one in seven forced to remain at home under nationwide public health orders – or recommendations – during the COVID-19 pandemic.” “Based on new research, it said on Thursday that more than 330 million youngsters have been stuck at home for at least nine months, since the virus spread uncontrollably this time last year….”
With more info on the “ online, interactive vaccine tracker hosted by the Vaccine Centre (VaC) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM; London, UK). Launched in April 2020, this tracker aims to collate up-to-date information on all COVID-19 vaccine candidates from inception through to deployment, enabling policy makers, researchers, and the public to keep informed of the rapid developments. “
“Guinea has reported eight more Ebola cases over the past few days, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced health screenings for travelers arriving from both Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), due to their outbreaks. Guinea is battling a new outbreak in an area where West Africa's massive outbreak of 2014-16 began. The new outbreak has reached 17 cases, 13 of them confirmed and 4 listed as probable, Mike Ryan, MD, director of the World Health Organization (WHO) health emergencies programs, said today at a briefing….”
“International Women's Day, on March 8, provides an opportunity to highlight the contributions of women around the world and reflect on the gains in gender equity that have been lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. … … COVID-19 has harmed the health and economic security of women worldwide. But the pandemic has also made the invisible contribution of women to health care much more apparent and provided important momentum to advocate for its measurement, recognition, and fair compensation with no disparities due to sex. This opportunity must be seized.”
“In the run-up to International Women’s Day 2021, and in light of recent gains made in the global menstrual justice policy space, we present the Pandemic Periods Collective – who are on a mission to elevate the voices of those experiencing period poverty during COVID-19. “
A V Naidoo et al ; https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/3/e004612
« Previous studies suggest that Africans have been underrepresented in medical literature related to the burden of disease on their continent, with their research sector producing less than 1% of the world’s health research each year. Results from the 10 journals included in this analysis suggest that African representation in African COVID-19 literature is insufficient, particularly in opinion-based articles oriented towards providing advice on system response and clinical care. Seventeen per cent of the world’s population lives in Africa, but only 3.9% of articles related to COVID-19 published in the top 10 medical journals is relevant to the continent. One in five African COVID-19 papers had no African authors, and 66.1% of authors on African papers were not from Africa. We recommend that journals develop inclusivity policies for content related to low-resource settings to accelerate progress towards better representation of local populations in the medical literature that affects them directly.”
M A Kana et al ; https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/3/e004059
« … Africans contributed just 3% of the global share of 36 326 indexed publications on SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 at 10 months into the pandemic. There were two dominant African COVID-19 publication coauthorship clusters mainly involving South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria; these link to over 100 African and non-African countries. African research groups should intensify and sustain intracontinental collaboration to generate a more accurate picture of what is going on in Africa as the pandemic evolves. Active research in Africa that culminates in collaborative networks within the continent will be a means to impact on preparedness for future emerging infections. »
M Faciolince & D Green; https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/dech.12633
“This article explores some of the consequences of open access (OA) for scholars in the global South, centring on what constitutes their equal participation in the global circuit of knowledge production. Building on critical reflections by contributors to the ‘Power Shifts’ project within the From Poverty to Power blog, the limitations of the OA model are shown to be tied to a series of structural features characteristic of the twin systems of academic research and publishing. What the challenges faced by many scholars in the global South demonstrate is that ‘openness’, or inclusion in this format, is not yet the guarantee for equality that many had hoped. The article frames this as a systemic knowledge issue at a global scale that cannot be remedied by a simple reform to academic publishing. The article points to some creative efforts by scholars to forge alternative models for scholarly communication that move away from a marketized and restrictive model of knowledge production, and towards epistemic justice. The authors conclude that while OA represents a positive step forward in making knowledge a public good, it is no substitute for a more comprehensive rethink to pluralize our ways of knowing.”
“Focus on agro-business rather than ecology”.
“An international food summit to address growing hunger and diet-related disease is in disarray as hundreds of farmers’ and human rights groups are planning a boycott. The head of the food systems summit, due to take place in September, has made an emotional appeal for unity and the UN’s own advisers are urging a rethink of the way it is run…. the planned summit is already embroiled in arguments over who is to blame for the growth of hunger and disease, and whether the meeting is biased in favour of corporate, hi-tech intensive farming. …. Support for ecological initiatives has also come from Olivier De Schutter, former UN special rapporteur on food, and Olivia Yambi, a nutrition expert and former Unicef official. They have argued that the summit should be broadened into a more inclusive world food congress, and that initiatives such as agro-ecology, endorsed by scientists, civil society and farmers, and food sovereignty be put firmly on the agenda. This week the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism – a group of more than 500 civil society groups with more than 300 million members – said they would boycott the summit and set up a parallel meeting.;..”
“Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) welcome the opportunity to make rotavirus vaccine available to more children living in humanitarian crises thanks to a landmark pricing agreement with the manufacturer, GSK. Children living in refugee camps, displaced communities or in other emergency situations now have a better chance of being protected against severe diarrhoeal disease with these lower price rotavirus vaccines. Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of death among children under five. The agreement makes use of the multi-partner Humanitarian Mechanism, launched in 2017. Rotavirus vaccine is the second vaccine to be accessed through the scheme, which depends on manufacturers making their vaccines available at their lowest price for use in emergencies - across countries of all income levels. The first to be made available was the pneumococcal vaccine….”
“Payment advocates expect quicker, better reviews but opponents fear unsustainable costs.”
“Donor organizations poured millions of dollars into U.S. firm Cepheid's diagnostic equipment to tackle disease in poor countries. When COVID-19 struck, the system fell apart.”
“… In late March, California-based diagnostics firm Cepheid, a unit of industrial conglomerate Danaher Corp, began supplying a rapid and highly accurate COVID-19 test that seemed perfectly suited to Congo’s needs. Nearly 5,000 of Cepheid’s GeneXpert diagnostic devices were already deployed in health facilities across Africa as part of the battle against tuberculosis (TB), Ebola, HIV and other infectious diseases. There were 130 of the devices in Congo alone. Staff would need little training to pivot to testing for COVID-19, and results would be ready in hours, not weeks. …. Starting in 2006, donor organizations put their faith in Cepheid equipment to help tackle deadly diseases in countries that lack medical laboratories and skilled personnel to run them. To date, donors have committed more than $730 million to the development and distribution of GeneXpert systems and their testing cartridges mainly in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia, Reuters calculated, based on interviews with donors and publicly available data. The U.S. military and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a Geneva-based charity, are among those who have provided funding. But a year on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of Congo’s GeneXpert machines are gathering dust. The reason: a shortage of proprietary chemical cartridges, also made by Cepheid, that are needed to conduct COVID-19 tests. Each test uses one cartridge. Health experts say Africa is being priced out of the market…”
Check out also the MSF Access response - MSF response to Reuters special report on the shortage of Cepheid COVID-19 tests in Africa.
“ Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many low- and middle-income countries had invested – either directly or via donors – in thousands of GeneXpert machines made by pharmaceutical corporation Cepheid to test for HIV, tuberculosis, Ebola and other infectious diseases. Last year, Cepheid received emergency authorisation for its COVID-19 test – which also uses Cepheid’s GeneXpert testing platform – to detect coronavirus at or near the point of care, delivering results in less than an hour. The report details how in prioritising selling its COVID-19 test to high-income countries, Cepheid is undersupplying COVID-19 tests in low- and middle-income countries where GeneXpert machines sit idle….”
“The Global Fund and Fondation CHANEL have signed a new agreement to set up a civil society-led fund to strengthen women’s and girls’ engagement in developing health policies, including Global Fund-related processes, in western and central Africa. The partnership, worth US$1.5 million, will run for three years starting in Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire….” “…The new partnership, entitled Voix EssentiELLES, aims to address these challenges by supporting women’s and girls’ groups and organizations to increase their engagement in shaping public health programs and policies that address their needs. It will serve as an important initiative to support women and girls to assume leadership positions in health policy and grants implementation processes with the goal of addressing inequalities that impact their health.”
Results & conclusion: « …Results demonstrate the WHO has held — and continues to hold — ambiguous, inadequate, and contradictory views of equity that are rooted in different theories of social justice. Moving forward, the WHO should revaluate its conceptualization of equity and normative position, and align its work with Amartya Sen’s Capabilities Approach, as it best encapsulates the broader views of the organization. Further empirical research is needed to assess the WHO interpretations and approaches to equity….”
G Newby, R Feachem et al; https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00521-3/fulltext
“…Global health security requires a comprehensive and integrated approach to simultaneously fight endemic diseases, respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and prepare for future pandemics…..”
Focus in this piece on the fight against malaria. “…. the goal of global health security must be to ensure that the global population is safe from all infectious diseases, both emerging and endemic, including malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. Health emergencies should not deter the global community from the ultimate goal of malaria eradication….”
· Do start with the two Editorials:
The quality-of-care agenda in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings (on WHO’s technical package, “Quality of care in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings: taking action”)
“…. On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern; in early February 2020, it launched its strategic preparedness and response plan and the accompanying operational guidelines. This plan outlined key public health measures to guide efforts of national and international partners. WHO, in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) Development Coordination Office, launched the WHO COVID-19 Partners Platform to operationalize the plan. On this platform, for the first time, governments, UN agencies and partners can plan and coordinate, in real time, for an acute event. This innovative digital ecosystem operationalizes the nine pillars of the plan: country-level coordination, planning and monitoring; risk communication and community engagement; surveillance, rapid-response teams and case investigation; points of entry, international travel and transport; national laboratories; infection prevention and control; case management; operational support and logistics; and maintaining essential health services and systems….”
· And make sure you also read this article: Quantifying convergence on health-related indicators of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development (by F Silveira et al)
“The extended scope and complexity of the United Nations 2030 agenda entail important challenges for the operationalization of the health-related SDG indicators. Divergences in concepts, agendas and implementation strategies among institutions have fostered the parallel development of alternative and concurrent indicators. We aim to determine the convergences and divergences between five key institutions: the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD), the Pan American Health Organization, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO). Of the 104 health-related indicators listed by these five institutions, 60 are consistent with official Inter-agency and Expert Group SDG indicators. Our analysis considers the indicators included, and the themes these indicators cover, in each institution list and each institution online platform. We quantified convergence in indicators between the institutions themselves, but also between the institutions and the official Inter-agency and Expert Group. Our results indicate important divergences; only 22 of the 60 indicators are included in the lists of all five institutions. The level of adoption of the official metrics varies from 40.5% (15/(47−10)) for the GBD to 86.2% (25/(29−0)) for the World Bank. WHO, the official curator of the Inter-agency and Expert Group SDG indicators, is only convergent with the official metrics by 72.1% (31/(45−2)). ….”
“The barriers and facilitators of conducting knowledge translation (KT) activities are well-established but less is known about the institutional forces that drive these barriers, particularly in low resource settings. Understanding organizational readiness has been used to assess and address such barriers but the employment of readiness assessments has largely been done in high-income countries. We conducted a qualitative study to describe the institutional needs and barriers in KT specific to academic institutions in low- and middle-income countries. … …. Our findings support many well-documented barriers including lack of time, skills and institutional support to conduct KT. Three additional institutional drivers emerged around soft skills and the complexity of the policy process, alignment of incentives and institutional missions, and the role of networks. Participants reflected on often-lacking soft-skills needed by researchers to engage policy makers. Continuous engagement was viewed as a challenge given competing demands for time (both researchers and policy makers) and lack of institutional incentives to conduct KT. Strong networks, both within the institution and between institutions, were described as important for conducting KT but difficult to establish and maintain. “
The authors aimed to reconstruct global, regional, and national mortality trends for youths aged 15–24 years between 1990 and 2019.
Interpretation of the findings: “It is urgent to accelerate progress in reducing youth mortality. Efforts are particularly needed in sub-Saharan Africa, where the burden of mortality is increasingly concentrated. In the future, a growing number of countries will see youth mortality exceeding under-5 mortality if current trends continue.”
P Barlow & D Stuckler; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953621001398
“…In this article we introduce a novel dataset, WTOhealth, comprising all challenges to national health regulations at the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee between 1995 and 2016….”
Some of the findings: “High-income members contested numerous public-health regulations. Several challenges concerned medical device safety and toxic chemical regulations. Challenges included highly contentious claims.”
J Buchan, J Campbell et al ; Human Resources for Health
“Our journal Call for papers on “Research to support evidence-informed decisions on optimizing the contributions of nursing and midwifery workforces” was announced late in 2019. The aim was to celebrate that 2020 had been designated “The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife” by the World Health Assembly, by setting up a Thematic Series on the two professions. By the time that papers were being submitted to the Call in early 2020, the world had changed. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the global need for skilled nurses and midwives, and has highlighted their central role in combatting the virus and sustaining access to health systems where possible. In this paper, commemorating the closing of the Call, we reflect on progress made in 2020 in improving policy responses to optimize the contribution of the distinct professions, as well as citing some of the key points emerging from the published papers….”
“Chinese banks have been restructuring African debt for the past two decades.”
“While the Trump administration and others have been skeptical about China’s willingness to offer debt relief, our research shows that these fears may be overblown. Chinese banks offered African countries significant debt restructuring before the pandemic and have continued to do so. …”
“… Our research at the Johns Hopkins SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) suggests that China has played a significant role in helping African countries to manage their debt. We documented 16 cases of debt restructuring worth $7.5 billion in 10 African countries between 2000 and 2019. China also wrote off the accumulated arrears of at least 94 interest-free loans amounting to at least $3.4 billion. However, interest-free loans make up less than 5 percent of China’s lending to Africa. In China, debt cancellation for overdue, interest-free loans follows a standardized process, but our research found that other debt restructurings tend to be ad hoc. Over 30 Chinese financiers — policy banks, commercial banks and Chinese companies — lend to African governments, and each institution handles its own debt negotiations….”
As for since the pandemic: “As of February 2021, Chinese financiers had finalized debt service suspensions for 16 African nations….” “Before the pandemic, China negotiated debt relief bilaterally, without consulting the IMF or other creditors. Now, the G-20, including China, are jointly setting the terms of debt relief, and moving forward, the G20’s Common Framework will coordinate the joint negotiations of official bilateral creditors. However, controversially, China has designated two financiers as “official” creditors: its new aid agency CIDCA (China International Development Cooperation Agency) and the official export credit agency, China Eximbank….”
K K Mc Dade, K Munge et al ; https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2021/03/02/reducing-kenyas-health-system-dependence-on-donors/
“… To better understand if a country is likely to be able to weather such a transition from aid, just how “dependent” a near-transition country, Kenya—classified as a lower-middle-income country since 2014—is using two concepts: donor dependency and donor concentration….”
“Kenya is facing both donor dependency and donor concentration in its health system….”
“Our findings suggest several actions that can be taken to better appreciate Kenya’s current reliance on external funding and to make arrangements for its exit from aid….”
“I think what is needed is a shift from control to care. Embracing a feminist approach in all aspects - economics, governance, public health, housing/shelter, natural resource use, ++ What we need now and for the future, is to be guided by a feminist ethic of care #COVID19.”
“There are two types of #vaccinediplomacy - one aims to ensure global solidarity and equity - the other aims for geopolitical advantage.”
“Germany has built up a stockpile of 1.75 m unused doses of AstraZeneca vaccine. In East German states delivery is as low as 5%. This is a grotesque misallocation of resources that are critically scarce at global level. Reallocate to low income countries NOW.”
“GAVI head just confirmed a vaccine world rumor: that Pfizer is requiring countries getting the vaccine through Covax to agree to additional terms on indemnification and liability — and that this paperwork is causing a delay.”
“Headlines: "Merck to help make J&J vaccine." Media fell for this story. The real story: The US government giving @Merck "$268.8 million to adapt and make available a number of existing manufacturing facilities" to make the J&J vaccine. Taxpayers accelerating vaccine production.”
1.Share tech & IP thru @WHO C-TAP 2.Voluntary licensing of more producers 3.Waive IP rules.”
“The Africa Regulatory Taskforce is a new joint effort established by Africa CDC), African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH) Initiative and the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum (AVAREF) to provide support for regulatory framework for Covid-19 vaccines in Africa.”
“Today Rwanda has become the first lower-income country to receive @Pfizer vaccine doses through #COVAX. On top of the millions of @AstraZeneca doses we have delivered in the past seven days, it is safe to say COVAX is up and running!”
"Our analysis of 28 countries distribution by sex finds on average that 41% of #COVID19 cases are women. Of course, this varies across countries." - @MoetiTshidi "This lower burden among women is likely due to a range of factors, including the findings of several studies that women are more likely than men to adhere to measures to prevent #COVID19."…”
Analysis. “Trade purists won’t like it, but Okonjo-Iweala could try to shift body in this direction.”
“… The WTO isn’t the obvious institution to address the vaccine production problem. So is she in charge of the wrong organisation? Not necessarily, if she can turn the WTO in the direction that some have always hankered after — a convener of bigger debates and catalyst for wider action. … If everyone involved can turn this into a joined-up conversation about vaccine research and development, finance, manufacturing capacity and distribution, it might lead to some constructive action. There’s a shortage of credible institutions to host these discussions. The World Health Organization is the obvious one, but it doesn’t have the technical and organisational capacity of the WTO, not to mention the odd problem with credibility. If not the main host for these conversations, the WTO can at least be a catalyst….”
“… Even as we write this in Brussels we can hear the bristling of WTO purists across the mountains and plains from Geneva, not to mention around town here. “It’s not what the WTO is for!” they will cry in anguished unison, and they have a point. The WTO is basically a big trade treaty with a negotiating function to expand it and a bunch of committees and a dispute settlement process to mediate breaches of it. It’s not a development or public health agency with money or an executive institution with its own powers. But the WTO dispute settlement process is limping and the negotiating function has more or less frozen (more on that, including other spicy activities from India and South Africa, in forthcoming editions of Trade Secrets). It has played only a minor role in combating damaging protectionism during the Covid-19 pandemic. If the WTO and its high-quality but underused permanent secretariat want a role, and can manage to stay more or less neutral in it, the body might make itself useful here. Playing that lesser role rather than granting the Trips waiver won’t actually be much of a surprise or disappointment to Pretoria and New Delhi. The Indians and South Africans may be awkward customers, but they aren’t naive. From the beginning, they knew their waiver request was an opening bid to start a conversation. “As much as the discussion in the room has moved, the discussion outside of the room has also been very important,” a South African official told us. “The discussion outside the room is a barometer of the kind of things that are happening inside.”…”
An article on the proceedings of Executive Board-148 of the WHO (January 2021) as part of the PHM's WHO-Watch initiative.
“…Beyond Covid-19, EB148 agenda covered public health issues of importance such as public health emergencies: preparedness and response, topics related to access to medicines, social determinants of health, patient safety and antimicrobial resistance, to name a few. This article documents some discussions that might shed some light on the politics and discussions of EB148 in the backdrop of the need to uphold the role of multilateralism in leading the Covid-19 pandemic response….”
J Dean-Chen Yin; https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17441692.2021.1890184
“”… . Using Taiwan's COVID-19 experience as a case study, Taiwan's successful management suggests that it is excluded from little, and thus marginally benefits in terms of public health. Yet, there are beneficial political gains in its call for inclusion. Taiwan's recent leveraging and amplification of its COVID-19 success story is thus an extension of its health diplomacy. Extending the call for inclusion online captures a novel digitised health diplomacy effort from Taiwan. The present study computationally analyses press-release and Twitter data to understand how Taiwanese government engages in these channels to frame and respond to the Taiwan/WHO issue. We find that Taiwan brands and propagates a ‘Taiwan Model’ through hashtags that revolve around coordination and solidarity as opposed to exclusion, indirectly criticising WHO. … . Although Taiwan's inclusion to WHO is improbable due to larger geopolitical factors, inclusion is not a zero-sum game, with potential bi-directional benefits and lessons that can fortify domestic health capacities in preparation for the next pandemic.”
“France’s National Assembly is due to vote Tuesday on a bill committing the government to strive to spend 0.7% of gross national income on official development assistance by 2025. Rapporteur Hervé Berville told Devex that the text will then go to the Senate, likely in April, and that he expects the legislation to enter into force in June. … …. France has increased its bilateral assistance and use of grants over the past few years, with a greater focus on Africa and the Sahel region, health, education, and climate change….”
And some great analysis in a CGD blog - Hitting 0.7 For 0.7’s Sake: The Perils of the Global Aid Funding Target (by R Dissanayke)
“Amid the news that France is legislating a target to give 0.7 percent of GNI as official development assistance, Ranil Dissanayake takes a deep look at what this means in practice.”
“… The double aid cut from lower GNI due to COVID, while also reducing aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI, will lead to the biggest ever cut to UK aid for the 2021–22 financial year, potentially in excess of £5 billion. The FCDO’s ‘7 global challenges’ may protect some sector spending, but all spending will still require cuts….”
“…As the UK has been an ‘aid superpower’ the consequences for low income countries can be severe, for example the UK cut in South Sudan could see a 10% reduction in the total global aid they receive, a country in which aid in total is worth 40% of national income. … The potential £600–£800 million cut in health spend would reduce global health aid by 5–6%, in the midst of a global pandemic….”
L Carson et al ; https://www.odi.org/publications/17959-prospects-aid-times-crisis
“This working paper analyses the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy and therefore on aid flows around the world.”
“From 2010 onwards, value for money (VfM) became an increasingly important watchword for British aid. In recent years, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) made progress in integrating adaptive management as a way of working more effectively on complex problems. A number of prominent reports have identified tensions between these two agendas, including a 2018 review by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact. The report found the emphasis in DFID on controlling costs and holding implementers accountable for efficient delivery may be suitable for more straightforward projects. But it can be problematic when used as a guide to VfM in complex situations, where teams need to test and learn to determine which combination of inputs and outputs produces the best results for the investment. This paper finds that if VfM analysis and measurement is to continue to be a key part of how aid programmes are managed and assessed, it should be done well, and in a way that takes account of complexity. If it cannot be done well, it should be avoided or minimised.”
“Despite a tough 2020, Sino-African relations remain strong. In 2021 and beyond China will retain a keen appetite for African ventures and explore new frontiers of co-operation in a bid to strengthen commercial ties. In a recently published report, “Taming the dragon: new frontiers of co-operation”, The Economist Intelligence Unit explores this evolving relationship between Africa and China….”
Check it out.
Start with the Editorial - The significance of primary health care for building back better: lessons from COVID-19
“…In this supplement, South-East Asia Region authors and others reflect on the challenges and lessons learned regarding PHC during the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting among other things examples of the rapid review and extension of health workforce capability; the expedited introduction of technological solutions to maintain and strengthen health care access; and newly decentralized governance arrangements designed to enable the integration of public health functions into front-line services…”
“The quest to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) in Africa has gained momentum despite COVID-19 related disruptions, an expert said on Friday. Rispah Walumbe, Health Policy Advisor at Nairobi-based Amref Health Africa said the continent has prioritized expanding access to quality and affordable healthcare services to all citizens as a means to boost resilience against future pandemics. "The state of universal health coverage in Africa is optimistic. The continent is moving towards a strategic direction guided by African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 on socio-economic transformation," said Walumbe. She spoke during a virtual briefing in Nairobi ahead of the Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) organized by Amref Health Africa and partners on March 8-10. The three-day biennial forum to be held virtually will discuss innovative strategies that can be harnessed to accelerate progress towards achieving universal health coverage in Africa and revitalize action on killer diseases….”
See also the Highlights section on Planetary Health. “…Climate plans laid out by 75 countries responsible for a third of global emissions “fall far short” of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris accord on global warming, a finding that must serve as a “wake-up call” for all governments, the United Nations said in its latest report card. In a stark warning delivered ahead of the international climate summit in November, UN climate change executive secretary Patricia Espinosa said the combined efforts were woefully inadequate and appealed to the world’s biggest emitters to “step up” with ambitious greenhouse gas reduction plans this year. The updated plans from countries including the UK and Australia and the European Union submitted by December demonstrated that “current levels of climate ambition are very far from putting us on a pathway that will meet our Paris Agreement goals”, said Espinosa….”
“… Just one of the world’s four largest greenhouse gas emitters had submitted its plan in time to be included in the analysis — the EU group of 27 countries. New commitments have yet to be put forward by China, the largest global emitter, the US and India, though the US plan is expected before the climate summit it will host on April 22….”
“The incrementalism of carbon pricing, which includes carbon taxes and emissions trading, has led us astray. It has been proffered as a key component of climate policy, yet evidence clearly shows that its effects are marginal. It provides limited emissions reductions and has provoked considerable political controversy in key large‐emitting countries. More importantly, pricing carbon means viewing climate change as a market failure, rather than as a problem of societal transformation. But rapid decarbonization will require more than market corrections; it demands strong state intervention to reorganize the economy. In this maximalist view, the state must create public goods, rather than merely prevent public bads. This article seeks to expand our collective political imagination about climate policy, moving beyond mundane fights about the appropriate design of carbon pricing. Instead, we need to think bigger. Aggressive climate policy begins with a reassertion of state sovereignty. Multinational corporations use ‘offshore’ tax havens to avoid paying taxes. By closing loopholes on corporate tax evasion, states reaffirm one of their fundamental functions: taxation. This reform would repatriate billions of dollars in missing capital, and help create the political conditions for meaningful action on decarbonization. Tax reform, not just carbon pricing, is climate policy too.”
“…The world’s wealthy [top 10 %] need cuts of over 90 percent of their carbon emissions, to get to their carbon fair share. The top-skew is so huge that the world’s richest 1 percent cause double the carbon burden of the poorest 50 percent combined (that’s 3.5 billion people). Most “middle class” Americans are in the global top 1 or 10 percent….”
“All planned coal projects around the world must be cancelled to end the “deadly addiction” to the most polluting fossil fuel, the UN secretary-general António Guterres said on Tuesday. Phasing out coal from the electricity sector is the single most important step to tackle the climate crisis, he said. Guterres’s call came at the opening of a summit of the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), a group of governments and businesses committed to ending coal burning for power….”
Guardian - Fossil fuel emissions in danger of surpassing pre-Covid levels (latest IEA data)
“The risk of human-to-human spread of the H5N8 strain of bird flu appears low after it was identified for the first time worldwide in farm workers in Russia, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday….”
M C Masong et al ; https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/16549716.2021.1886457
“The SDGs which pledge to leave no one behind for UHC raise the importance of ensuring equitable health outcomes and healthcare delivery. As Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) affect the most disadvantaged and hard to reach populations, they are considered a litmus test for Universal health coverage. Here, we assess the challenges of implementing Mass Drug Administrations (MDAs) for schistosomiasis prevention and control, in a context of expanded treatment where both community and school-based distribution were carried out, assessing which groups are missed and developing strategies to enhance equity….”
“The unacceptably high rate of maternal and child mortality in Nigeria prompted the government to introduce a free maternal and child health (MCH) programme, which was stopped abruptly following a change in government. This triggered increased advocacy for sustaining MCH as a political priority in the country and led to the formation of advocacy coalitions. This study set out to explain the process involved in the formation of advocacy coalition groups and how they work to bring about sustained political prioritization for MCH in Nigeria. It will contribute to the understanding of the Nigerian MCH sector subsystem and will be beneficial to health policy advocates and public health researchers in Nigeria….”
“While the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ represent distinct concepts, their influence may intersect as important determinants of health. Despite their influence in shaping individual health outcomes, there is often inaccuracy and inconsistency in the degree to which sex and gender considerations are integrated in the health policymaking process. This primary aim of this paper is to fill the gap in the current understanding of how sex and gender considerations are integrated in this process…”
Exactly. “2021 marks the centenary of the discovery of insulin. About 70 million people worldwide require insulin for survival or better management of their diabetes. However, the availability and affordability of insulin remain poor in many contexts because of various global and national factors…” The authors suggest a number of actions.
On the queue jumping taking place. “Not everyone is prepared to wait their turn”.
“The underhand ways in which people are trying to get their hands on covid-19 vaccines can, roughly, be divided into three categories. The first consists of legal but ethically dubious actions, in which people with means try to exploit loopholes in countries where vaccines are already available. … … The second category of vaccine shenanigans is through political favours and preferential access … … Third comes the black market, which has flourished at every stage of the pandemic….” “
“…We review the products that are being investigated for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19; discuss the challenges that countries in sub-Saharan Africa may face with access to COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostics due to the limited capacity to manufacture them in Africa; and make recommendations on actions to mitigate these challenges and ensure health security in sub-Saharan Africa during this unprecedented pandemic and future public-health crises….”
“Criminal gangs seek to capitalise on global demand for coronavirus jabs.”
See also the Guardian - Interpol warns fake vaccines seized in China and South Africa are ‘tip of iceberg’
“Police in China and South Africa have seized thousands of fake doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, the global police organisation Interpol said on Wednesday, warning this represented only the “tip of the iceberg” in vaccine-related crime….”
“A team of leading Finnish researchers had a patent-free COVID-19 vaccine ready last May, which could have allowed countries all over the world to inoculate their populations without paying top dollar. Yet rather than help the initiative, Finland's government sided with Big Pharma — showing how a patent-based funding model puts profit over public health.”
A Freiberg et al ; https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17441692.2021.1892794
“In Latin America, ‘judicialization’ for access to healthcare refers to thousands of different claims, conditions, technologies and circumstances. Its impact depends on what is ‘judicialized’, why, for which benefit, and at what cost to society. Since judges cannot, by themselves, reduce medical uncertainty – or price tags – their health systems are exposed to costly adjudications based solely on interpretations of right to health, or life. The result is a low-governance, inefficient system for deciding coverage. We reviewed lists of judicialised medicines in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Uruguay, dividing them into types A, B and C. We propose a debate by type, and that judges, facing litigation type-C, consider mandating coverage conditional on results, as requisite for reimbursement.”
“…Although most of the literature provides information on legal provisions and discusses compulsory licensing from a theoretical perspective, this research synthesis focuses on empirical studies of implementation of such licenses and their economic and political impacts, as well as on the possibilities associated with issuing compulsory licenses beyond the legal provisions contained in patent laws.”
“Interventions using positive psychology (PP), which build on positive qualities of healthcare personnel and institutions, could potentially enhance organisational performance in healthcare. The aim of this systematic review was to identify if PP interventions have an impact on organisational performance of healthcare personnel, and if so, how this impact can be achieved. We developed a logic model to explain the impact of PP interventions on organisational performance….”
“Although the theoretical underpinnings and analytical framework for needs-based health workforce planning are well developed and tested, its uptake in national planning processes is still limited. Towards the development of open-access needs-based planning model for national workforce planning, we conducted a systematic scoping review of analytical applications of needs-based health workforce models….”
“We mapped evidence from low- and middle-income countries of the human resources for health-related challenges to providing quality facility-based newborn care into tangible thematic areas. The mapping provides valuable insight that informed new World Health Organization strategies to systematically address the challenges identified and to strengthen human resources for health for newborn care globally and nationally.”
“The shots might help people with chronic symptoms.” Some at least.
“… To ensure countries have the best chance of a successful COVID-19 vaccine deployment, WHO with COVAX partners including UNICEF have developed two COVID-19 vaccine-specific tabletop exercise simulation packages to test planning assumptions before national vaccine roll-out…”
“China aims to vaccinate 40% of its population against COVID-19 by the end of July, a senior health adviser told Reuters on Tuesday, requiring a significant increase in inoculations even as it ramps up exports of vaccines….”
“Intensive care units in 17 of the country’s 26 states were near capacity, while six states and the capital had run out of ICU beds”.
“Nigeria’s first COVID-19 vaccines, Oxford/AstraZeneca shots from the international COVAX scheme, landed in the capital city Abuja on Tuesday. The 3.92 million doses will kick off the arduous task of inoculating Africa’s most populous nation. … … Nigeria, with 200 million residents, is the third West African country to take delivery of COVAX shots, after Ghana and Ivory Coast, both of which have already begun vaccination campaigns.”
“…the 2020 IIAG includes a new section—Citizens’ Voices—mirroring the main IIAG results around citizens’ perspectives (from a sample of citizens in 39 countries representing around 87 percent of Africa’s population). In more than half of the 39 countries sampled, citizens are less satisfied with governance performance than 10 years ago. Moreover, this dissatisfaction has been worsening since 2015, reaching its lowest level since 2010 last year. Given that over 60 percent of Africa’s population is under 25, attention must be paid to this growing mistrust, as mistrust from youth could easily turn to frustration and anger….”
“Slow pace of inoculations means international travel restrictions expected until next year.”
“… While China has pledged to ship hundreds of millions of vaccines abroad, domestically the rollout of inoculations has been slow, raising concerns that restrictions on international travel will remain until at least next year. China was the first country to begin Covid-19 vaccinations in July and had administered 40.5m doses by early February, the highest number of injections behind the US. But at 2.9 doses per 100 residents, it is far behind other big economies and the levels needed to form herd immunity in the population. It has only given four-fifths of the vaccinations it had hoped to achieve by this point. … … Age restrictions on the use of the Sinopharm and Sinovac shots have also slowed the rollout. Both vaccines are recommended only for people in good health aged 18 to 59, which automatically excludes those who would most want a jab. Instead the government has focused on vaccinating those likely to spread the virus, such as taxi drivers. At this rate, analysts estimate it will take well into 2022 to vaccinate most of the population. “
“… Sinopharm and Sinovac also have to balance domestic demand with their global commitments. China’s foreign ministry has pledged 10m doses to the global vaccination programme Covax, which will mainly supply low-income countries. In addition, Chinese vaccine makers have pledged more than 500m doses in bilateral deals and delivered approximately 21m doses, according to Gavekal….”
“South Africa has signed an agreement with Johnson & Johnson to secure 11 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and will ease restrictions due to a decline in new cases, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday….”
“The world faces two possible futures: one in which all nations band together to bring covid-19 under control, and another in which the wealthiest countries emerge from the pandemic but developing nations do not. In this second scenario, two classes emerge — a vaccinated class and an unvaccinated class….”
Focus on the US, but well worth a read.
Quote: “…Individual responsibility certainly had a large role to play in fighting the pandemic, but many victims had little choice in what happened to them. By disproportionately focusing on individual choices, not only did we hide the real problem, but we failed to do more to provide safe working and living conditions for everyone.”
J I Arachchi et al ; https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-021-10475-8
“…This study aims to investigate the relationship of four dimensions of social capital (community attachment, social trust, family bond, and security) and several control variables with COVID-19 deaths…”
Results: “We found that COVID-19 deaths were associated with social capital both positively and negatively. Community attachment and social trust were associated with more COVID-19 deaths, and family bond and security were associated with fewer deaths. COVID-19 deaths were positively associated with population density, ageing population, and interactions between four dimensions of social capital-related factors and the ageing population. Furthermore, the number of hospital beds and early lockdown policy were negatively associated with COVID-19 deaths.”