News Flash 437: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

News Flash 437

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

MMI Policy Dialogues 2021

Meeting registration: TI Methods Speaker Series: How to improve clinical trial reporting – insights from Europe and the US (Till Bruckner)

Technical Fixes or Sweeping Reform? Europe and Developing Countries Face Uphill Battle to Etch Consensus on IP Waiver

SDSN Releases 2021 Findings on National, Global Performance Towards SDGs

Forty New Medicines & 16 New Indications Under Consideration For WHO Essential Medicines List

KEI statement: 23rd meeting of the WHO Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines

The many uses of data in public clinical trial registries

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Weekly Update

Latest Covid-19 Statistics from African Countries

Two additional manufacturing sites for BioNTech/Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

MSF calls on BioNTech to immediately share COVID-19 vaccine technology and recipe

WHO supporting South African consortium to establish first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub

New tech hub aims to boost access to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in Africa

Global south-led vaccine summit eyes new tech-sharing platform

Has SARS-CoV-2 reached peak fitness?

Covid shows the world it needs new rules to deal with pandemics

Ahead of Gavi’s board meeting, MSF urges critical look at COVAX shortcomings

Q&A: How COVID-19 response plans sideline women

From years to months: How the Ebola response is getting better

Guinea declares Ebola epidemic over

Governance of TB Programmes: An assessment of practices in 22 countries

New global targets for NTDs in the WHO roadmap 2021–2030

Addressing Mental Illness Requires Workplace Policy As Well As Health Care Policy

Humanitarian spending plummets as UK, Saudis make cuts

Disabilità. Il doppio svantaggio

Influence of soft law grows in international governance

A year on – how community-based workers have strived to provide continuous support to vulnerable migrant populations, in Montreal and around the globe

UN World Food Programme says 41 million on verge of famine

Africa Can Be Self-Sufficient in Rice Production

Three Million in Three Years: Jamaica’s Tree-Planting to Tackle Climate Change

Gabon is first African country paid to protect its rainforest

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Flash 436: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

News Flash 436

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

Public lecture registration: The Pandemic treaty: what if the world was governed like the Allianz insurance company?

EMA: Annual report 2020 published

G-7 summit panned as ‘missed opportunity’ on COVID-19 and climate

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Weekly Update

COVID-19 in Africa: the role of research. Sharing experiences and perspectives on how Tanzania and South Africa’s research communities have tackled the pandemic

Africa’s COVID-19 Vaccination Rollouts Falter as Third Wave Grips Parts of the Continent

Financing Africa’s post-COVID recovery: What needs to happen to avert catastrophe

MSF analysis of EU communications to TRIPS Council on COVID-19 IP waiver proposal

Novavax could make 100 million monthly doses of COVID-19 vaccine by October

Preliminary Findings of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons

Webinar registration: “Value-based Vaccination: What Is the Cost of Non-vaccination for Public Health?” Wed, 30 June, 2021 | 10:30 – 12:00 (CEST)

RAVIDASVIR A new drug for hepatitis C developed through South-South cooperation

First hepatitis C treatment developed through South-South cooperation registered in Malaysia

Waiting for the Cure: The quest to deliver an affordable treatment for hepatitis C in Malaysia

MSF: Governments off track on providing tools to prevent TB, the second biggest infectious disease killer after COVID-19

Registration: Webinar on EMA’s categorisation of antibiotics used in animals

Webinar registration: Faire face à la résistance aux antibiotiques (AMR) demande de s’intéresser d’abord à l’environnement: eau, eaux usées, déchets, pesticides… Vendredi 18 juin 2021, 13h30-15h00 CEST (Paris-Genève)

Groundbreaking Study: Mosquitoes Armed with Wolbachia Bacteria Reduced Symptomatic Dengue Infections by 77% In Indonesian Trial

Top G7 development banks pledge $80 billion for African firms

How community-based youth researchers are shaping national policy in Sudan

Child labour figure rises to 160 million, as COVID puts many more at risk

To End Child Labour, the UN Must Cut Ties with Tobacco Industry

Demand-Driven Humanitarian Action in the Asia-Pacific: A Conversation with National and Regional Actors

To Reverse Food Insecurity Build a Climate Resilient Agricultural Sector

Soaring e-waste affects the health of millions of children, WHO warns

Swiss reject law to help country meet Paris carbon emissions goal

Exclusive: UK cancels ‘highly effective’ green program in Indonesia

Private finance won’t decarbonise our economies – but the ‘big green state’ can

Africa’s emerging climate superstars

Rising heat-related deaths linked to global warming

Cleaning up their act? G7 fossil fuel investments in a time of green recovery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Flash 435: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

News Flash 435

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

Webinar registration: DG CSO dialogue on Health Aging Jun 16, 2021 03:00 PM in Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna

Webinar registration: MMI Policy Dialogues 2021: Challenging times – and time for transformative policies 14-17 June 2021

Webinar registration: Ensuring responsible antimicrobial use in EU food production: MEP Interest Group on AMR Annual Meeting Jun 29, 2021 03:00 PM in Brussels

Registration: The Oslo Medicines Initiative: a new social contract with pharma 15 June 2021 | 13:00 – 14:00 CEST

Get the balance right: AI-based decision-making: the prospects and risks for health

G7 tax deal doesn’t go far enough, campaigners say

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Weekly Update

EMA evaluating the use of COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna in young people aged 12 to 17

VaxPaL – COVID-19 vaccines patent landscape

Can Serology Tests and Seroprevalence Surveys Inform a More Effective Vaccine Roll Out?

EMA raises awareness of clinical care recommendations to manage suspected thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome

Is European Union on Collision Course With European Parliament on COVID IP Waiver?

EU, UK, Switzerland, Norway must stop blocking negotiations on landmark pandemic monopoly waiver

World Bank opposes vaccine intellectual property waiver as WTO talks resume

G7 Should Donate 100 Million More Vaccines by July – WHO; COVID-19 Cases Decline Globally but Rise in Latin America

On COVID vaccinations for refugees, will the world live up to its promises?

Italy’s experience during COVID-19: the limits of privatisation in healthcare

Drop in Convalescent Plasma Use at U.S. Hospitals Linked to Higher COVID-19 Mortality Rate

Pandemic treaty needs to start with rethinking the paradigm of global health security

World has missed all targets for tackling Aids by 2020, UN report reveals

Russia Stuns UN High-Level Meeting on AIDS by Refusing to Support Consensus Declaration

Countries reaffirm commitment to ending polio at launch of new eradication strategy

UK ends bilateral aid to more than 100 countries, territories

A global priority: addressing violence against children

Why We Need More Women in Power

Disability—a neglected issue in public health

EU budget 2022: Speeding up Europe’s recovery and progressing towards a green, digital and resilient future

G7 agree on ‘historic steps’ to make climate reporting mandatory

Reject the extractive EU Green Deal

Don’t Be Fooled: The European Green Deal Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Time to End Generational Injustice with a ‘Global Blue New Deal’ to Protect Oceans

The Ocean’s Silent Killer: Breaking Down Overfishing

Black Sea facing ecological disaster due to overfishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Flash 434: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

News Flash 434

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

Webinar registration: TRIPS Waiver: Update and Analysis of Recent Developments Jun 5, 2021 06:30 PM in Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi

Webinar registration: MMI Policy Dialogues 14 June to 17 June 2021: Challenging times – and time for transformative policies

MSF statement concerning intellectual property and access to medicines in the 2021 UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS Declaration

New US$50 billion health, trade and finance roadmap to end the pandemic and secure a global recovery

74th WHA: Historic or business as usual? Experts weigh in

The Seventy-fourth World Health Assembly closes

World Health Assembly: Lost in (virtual) space

Approved May 31st: Special session of the World Health Assembly to consider developing a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response

WHA-adopted eye health targets can help ‘hold governments to account’

WHO Private Sector Engagement: PSI & other CSOs express grave concern

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Weekly Update

COVID-19 DISRUPTIONS SHOULD RESULT IN SETTING NEW REALISTIC TARGETS FOR HIV, TUBERCULOSIS, AND MALARIA

WHO validates Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use and issues interim policy recommendations

Additional manufacturing capacity for BioNTech/Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

First COVID-19 vaccine approved for children aged 12 to 15 in EU

How to Make Enough Vaccine for the World in One Year

Europe still can’t get on board with the TRIPS waiver

Even after US shift, opponents resist COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver

Inequitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution and its effects

Covid: Vietnam detects new UK-Indian variant, health officials say

India’s second Covid-19 wave: the impact of social determinants of health

Maintaining neglected tropical disease programmes during pandemics

THE GLOBAL FUND MUST EXPAND ITS MANDATE TO OTHER PANDEMICS, SAYS THE AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION

Acute malnutrition surging among Haitian children, UNICEF warns

Call to action | Mobilization to Challenge the UN Food Systems Summit and Re-claim Peoples’ Sovereignty over Food Systems

Conoscere per accogliere

INSTITUTIONAL RACISM IN THE AID SECTOR AND HOW OXFAM IS RESPONDING

Global Justice Now: Impact Report 2020

Nature funding must triple by 2030 to protect land, wildlife and climate

Shell Ordered by Dutch Court to Cut Carbon Emissions

Driving destructive mining: EU Civil Society denounces EU raw materials plans in EU Green Deal

Webinar Registration: How the EU is leading on the largest act of ocean protection

What Would a Biden Climate Plan Look Like for the Whole World?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Flash 433: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

News Flash 433

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

Watch live sessions of Seventy-fourth World Health Assembly 24 May – 1 June 2021 

MSF at the 74th World Health Assembly 

MSF Statement on Agenda Item 13.4 concerning the draft resolution, “Strengthening local production of medicines and other health technologies to improve access.” 

Pandemic Treaty Discussion Deferred With Appeals for High-Level Political Commitment to Fix WHO 

China Sidesteps COVAX Vaccine Donations; Africa Highlights Pandemic Fallout on Health Systems & Societies 

Webinar registration: OHSS Webinar – Integrating One Health and Social Sciences in Africa: Examples from Nigeria and Uganda Wed, May 26, 2021 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM CEST 

Webinar registration: Launch of WHO Handbook on Social Participation May 31, 2021 02:00 PM in Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna

Webinar registration: MMI Policy Dialogues 2021: Challenging times – and time for transformative policies 14-17 June 2021

Corona-Policy-Chaos and Health for All by Judith Richter 

Despite Recent Sharp Declines in New Cases, Global COVID Situation “Remains Highly Unstable,” Says WHO 

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Weekly Update

HOW IS COVID-19 AFFECTING AFRICA? 

€1 billion Team Europe initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa 

To curb COVID-19, global health must go local

EMA issues advice on use of sotrovimab (VIR-7831) for treating COVID-19

To Increased Vaccine Manufacturing in LMICs, We Also Need to Strengthen Regulatory Capacity

Covid shows the world it needs new rules to deal with pandemics 

Global leaders adopt agenda to overcome COVID-19 crisis and avoid future pandemics 

In India’s COVID-19 crisis, the internet is both a lifeline and a barrier

Covid: Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs work against Indian variant – study 

Vaxzevria: further advice on blood clots and low blood platelets

Gavi Makes Deal With J&J on COVID-19 Vaccines; WHO Says COVID-19 Deaths Could Be 2-3 Times Higher Than 3.2 Million Reported 

Protecting Olympic Participants from Covid-19 — The Urgent Need for a Risk-Management Approach

The 1 Billion Dose Wager on the IP Waiver 

New TB drugs mix cuts treatment to four months 

New global targets for NTDs in the WHO roadmap 2021–2030 

The Medicines Patent Pool passes one million treatments milestone for crucial hepatitis C medication, daclatasvir

Taxed and untaxed beverage intake by South African young adults after a national sugar-sweetened beverage tax: A before-and-after study

2020-21 – Corso elettivo “Salute globale: determinanti sociali e strategie di primary health care” Data: 31 MAGGIO-10 GIUGNO 2021

Five years on from the World Humanitarian Summit: lots of talk, no revolution

Convenzioni internazionali e diritti negati 

Report: “Safe System” Approach Could Dramatically Reduce Road Deaths While Improving Equity

A Growing Shift in the Narrative about Climate Action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corona-Policy-Chaos and Health for All

The current functioning of WHO needs to be questioned during this year's World Health Assembly, whereby reflections should focus beyond the current pandemic. 

Not only to tackle future pandemics - but also to address the impact of poverty and harmful commercial practices on peoples’ health - WHO needs to be enabled to fulfil its constitutional mandate to work for health for all as a human right. For too long, it (and other UN agencies) have been pressured to support the neoliberal restructuring of these agencies and the trading away of their key functions, a process to which top officials have actively contributed.  WHO needs to be enabled to fulfill its function of being the coordinating agency in public health as well as regulating transnational practices.

To this aim, full public funding of public institutions has to come seriously on the public agenda, through which the idea of corporate funding of the World Health Organization should be stopped

Corona-Policy-Chaos and Health for All

By Judith Richter, PhD

Independent Researcher [1]

 

 

The overarching theme of the imminent World Health Assembly – from 24th May for just over one week – is “Ending this pandemic, preventing the next: building together a healthier, safer and fairer world.”[2]

What is standing in the way of this laudable and desirable goal? The following reflections are based on my several decades’ research during which time WHO, like other UN agencies, came under pressure to reform itself along neoliberal lines. My goal has always been to support WHO’s capacity to maintain and fulfil its constitutional mandate to work for peoples’ right to health and safeguarding its constitutional coordinating and regulatory core functions.

I am no expert on communicable diseases and epidemics and do appreciate it has been a major challenge for policy makers to determine what measures are adequate and appropriate to minimize transmission of the Covid-19 virus and protect peoples’ health.

But I do have experience in striving to protect and maintain public interest safeguards in the international public health arena, work that has involved paying particular attention to who says what and in what manner – and what is not said. From this perspective, accounts of the role of Bill Gates in this pandemic have left me feeling deeply uncomfortable.

It is of grave concern that so many people seem ready to believe that Bill Gates created this pandemic so as to control everyone through computer chips contained in the vaccine against Covid-19 that would implant themselves in our brains. However, I am concerned about the widespread focus on “conspiracy theories” when explaining why people wonder about possible influence of Bill Gates and pharmaceutical companies, and the World Economic Forum the ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic has been handled to date.
To what extend has press coverage helped people better understand the intricacies of health politics? How to explain, for example, the following shift in reporting by the New York Times? In 2017, just before Dr. Tedros election to Director-General of the World Health Organization, a New York Times article finally picked up on long-standing analyses that WHO could be saved from Gates’s dominant influence on world health politics if its member countries paid fully the organization’s budget.[3] Three years later, after the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, a NYT Opinion piece heralded Bill Gates as a “prophet” for his forecasting of this, and future, pandemics.[4]

Until recently, serious investigative on the relationships between these actors and their undue influence seem to have rarely made it into the mainstream press. Could this be a result of a systemic bias, due in part to Bill Gates wide-reaching funding in the field of public health over the past two decades, ranging from major public-private initiatives to academia, media, and medical journals?

While it is important to understand which actors are currently spreading problematic information, it seems even more important to enable the many concerned people and policy makers to grasp the depth of the multiple webs of influence spun over the past few decades by transnational corporations, the World Economic Forum, and venture philanthropies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Ted Turner’s UN Foundation – and consequences for public health and global democratic governance.

Glimmers of hope

One glimmer of hope is the report recently published in the British Medical Journal by independent investigative journalist Tim Schwab, who raises questions about financial conflicts of interest of the philanthropic actors and trust funds who have been funding research during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another is that some mainstream press articles are now highlighting the paradox of Bill Gates being heralded as a saviour because of his Foundation’s vaccine donations to the poor given that he has contributed to a lack of vaccines through his defense of the patent system. [5]

Tim Schwab had already raised questions about the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding both philanthropic and commercial actors.[6] Pertinently he has asked whether Gates Foundation funding of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which is criticized for producing statistics of questionable value, contributed to the premature declaration in the USA in the summer of 2020 that the Covid-19 pandemic had ended.[7]

Schwab’s BMJ article also cites sociology professor Lindsey McGoey’s[8] concerns about reliance on a “charitable model” and an ideology of “private sector saviourism” instead of a “health justice model”.[9] Such concerns are not new but have been raised repeatedly over the past two decades, ever since UNICEF and Bill Gates launched the first model “global health public-private partnership” in 2000: the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, now simply GAVI. This coincided with WHO Director-General Gro-Harlem Brundtland diverting WHO away from the Health for All model that viewed health in its cultural, social, political and economic contexts. [10] This perspective advocated justice-based health policies, binding regulation of harmful practices of transnational corporations, and transfer of knowledge and technology to “developing” countries.

Some more questions

Building on such glimmers of hope, further questions need to be raised during this year’s World Health Assembly and afterwards. In particular, has the influence of the Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum in the international health arena contributed to WHO’s advice during the Covid-19 pandemic that has overemphasized and relied heavily on high-tech solutions, most obviously vaccination, to the neglect of so-called low-tech solutions and broader public health measures while undervaluing the experience of Asian countries with the earlier SARS epidemic? [11]

In the early phase of the Covid-19 crisis, many newspapers highlighted the approach of decreasing people’s physical contact with each other through “lock-down” measures until vaccines could be produced with unprecedented speed to “end” the pandemic.

Such high-tech tunnel vision, vaccines being the light at the end of the tunnel, fits with a “world according to Gates” who is known for his preference of technical solutions to health and nutrition problems and who had stated his preference for immunization over combatting poverty.[12] In such a world, it might not have been seen as a problem that many lockdown measures would have more problematic impacts on those not able to shift to online-based “home-office” work and who lack the funds and skills to provide and receive online-schooling.

Neglect of low-tech measures was highlighted in September 2020 when Bill Gates reportedly stated that ‘We underestimated the value of masks’.[13] Who was the “we”? Did it include the World Health Organization?[14]

In the early phase of the pandemic, WHO advised against the general population wearing face masks with the explanation that a general mask requirement could lead not enough masks for health professionals but also that mask wearing may lead to people not following the advice to keep a safe distance from each other.

Did the webs of corporate and philanthropic influence on vaccine development (and possibly that of diagnostics as well) contribute to a failure to recognize earlier that even home-made cloth masks can help minimize the spread of this virus?[15] That wearing of FFP2/N95 masks could have enabled more small and mid-size business to stay open?

Why wasn’t more attention paid to researching this low-tech solution, particularly when introducing and loosening the “lock-downs”? The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated in November 2020 that “Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation.” The agency cited an economic analysis that found a 15% increase in universal masking could prevent losses of up to $1 trillion – 5% of the US GDP.[16]

A thorough review is needed of the evidence behind each of the recommended “lock-down” measures in the private and commercial realm. Taiwan’s research based on its SARS experience found that shops were not a major source of spreading that virus.[17] Why has there been such a focus on measures to limit “physical contacts” rather than focusing squarely on limiting the spread of the virus?

“Ending this pandemic, preventing the next: building together a healthier, safer and fairer world?”

These are wonderful aspirations for which long-standing obstacles have to be tackled.

Plans need to be made how to minimize wasting public resources, prevent corruption, and damaging the economy understood from a people-centred perspective. It must focus on maintaining peoples’ livelihoods, not on maintaining DAX indexes.[18]

All in all, reflections need to focus beyond the current pandemic. I do not believe that the economic lock-downs implemented so far can be stretched much longer. I doubt they can be repeated in another pandemic. Too big are the debts that will have to be paid back already now, possibly even by future generations. It is time to reverse the long-standing trend towards a predatory economic model which includes establishing tax justice.

Not only to tackle future pandemics – but also to address the impact of poverty and harmful commercial practices on peoples’ health – WHO needs to be enabled to fulfil its constitutional mandate to work for health for all as a human right. For too long, it (and other UN agencies) have been pressured to support the neoliberal restructuring of these agencies and the trading away of their key functions, a process to which top officials have actively contributed.  WHO needs to be enabled to fulfill its function of being the coordinating agency in public health as well as regulating transnational practices.

The current functioning of WHO needs to be questioned. The draft concept paper behind its current Global Work Programme advocated making WHO just one “stakeholder” in a system of multi-stakeholder governance – and turning it into a broker of multi-stakeholder partnerships.[19]

The term “multi-stakeholder” usually involves increasing the (undue) influence of big business and the hyper-rich. The increasing hegemony of the “partnership” model in recent years, a corner stone of the neoliberal restructuring of our world, has seeped into the ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic is being handled.

It is important to continue pointing out that this model’s public-private “partnership” rules have led to the erosion of good public governance.[20]

The Corona crisis has revealed cracks in the narrative that in difficult times “all stakeholders” have to work together in “partnership” in a spirit of “trust” and that nobody should be excluded because relationships between UN and so-called non-state actors should work along a supposed “principle” of “inclusiveness.”

The World Economic Forum, venture philanthropies, high-level UN-officials, public-private partnership brokers and corporate funded academics have all contributed to crafting this narrative that is now part of everyday language and thinking.

Another cautionary tale needs to take hold: don’t invite the wolf into the sheep pen, because the risks of building a health system based on the “charity” of powerful economic actors are significant. Full public funding of public institutions has to come seriously on the public agenda[21]. The idea of corporate funding of the World Health Organization should be stopped.

To start a process of disentangling itself from undue influences and helping it regain public trustworthiness, WHO needs to replace its false conflict of interest definition in its 2016 Framework of Engagement with non-State Actors by a law-based conception;[22] moreover, when it comes to interactions of public interest with business- and philanthropic actors, UN agencies and governments need to eliminate reference to alleged “principles” of “inclusiveness” and “trust”. In fact, in such interactions, trust needs to be replaced by “vigilance” – a recognized conflict of interest principle.[23] If this is not done, WHO’s Framework of Engagement with non-State Actors and its Global Work Programme will continue being frameworks to justify undue entanglements.

I sincerely hope that this year’s World Health Assembly will no lead further down the road towards an unhealthy, unsafe, and deeply unfair a world.

Endnotes

[1] Editing support of Sarah Sexton is gratefully acknowledged

[2] The Assembly can be followed virtually, cf. https://www.who.int/about/governance/world-health-assembly/seventy-fourth-world-health-assembly, accessed 18.05.2021

[3] Donald G. McNeil Jr., “The Campaign to Lead the World Health Organization,” New York Times, April 3, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/03/health/the-campaign-to-lead-the-world-health-organization.html; (2020)

[4] (2020) Bill Gates is the most interesting man in the world. New York Times, May 5 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/22/opinion/bill-gates-coronavirus.html. Not mentioning, e.g the film Contagion, which drew on the account of experts of the SARS pandemic.

[5] E.g Linsey McGoey (2021) The People v. Bill Gates, LRB blog, London Review of Books, 4 May

[6] While the Poor Get Sick, Bill Gates Just Gets Richer: The billionaire’s pandemic investments, like much of his work, remain a secret. The Nation, 5 October 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/economy/bill-gates-investments-covid/

[7] Schwab, Tim (2020) Are Bill Gates’s Billions Distorting Public Health Data? Thanks to the Microsoft founder’s support, the IHME can make its own rules about how to track global health. That’s a problem, The Nation, 3 December.

[8] Also author of No Such Thing as a Free Gift. The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy

[9] Schwab, Tim (2021) Covid-19, trust, and Wellcome: how charity’s pharma investments overlap with its research efforts, BMJ, 3 March, doi: BMJ 2021;372:n556, https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n556. It seems important to investigate the influence of the Gates and Wellcome Foundation as well as that of conflicted academics in German international health policies, seen most recent the announcement of a new hub for pandemic intelligence. https://www.who.int/news/item/05-05-2021-who-germany-launch-new-global-hub-for-pandemic-and-epidemic-intelligence

[10] Richter, Judith (2004) Public-private partnerships and international health policy-making: how can public interests be safeguarded? Elements for Discussion Series, Ministry for Foreign Affairs Finland, Helsinki, September, pp. 68-83

[11] I have read two interviews of historical experts on earlier pandemics who felt that there has been an emphasis on high-tech solutions.

[12] Birn, A.-E. & J. Richter (2019) U.S. Philanthrocapitalism and the Global Health Agenda: The Rockefeller and Gates Foundations, Past and Present. Health Care under the Knife (advance chapter see http://www.peah.it/2017/05/4019/

[13] Natasha Turak (2020) Bill Gates: ‘We underestimated the value of masks’, CNBC, Health and Science, 16 September, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/16/bill-gates-we-underestimated-the-value-of-masks.html

[14] For interconnections, see e.g. also Greenstein, Michele & Jeremy Loffredo (2020) Why the Bill Gates global health empire promises more empire and less public health: Coronavirus Non-Profit Industrial Complex, 8 July, https://thegrayzone.com/2020/07/08/bill-gates-global-health-policy/

[15] As evidenced by the success e.g. in Czech Republic during the first phase of the Corona-crisis. And advantage that was lost later on a.o. through signals given by overly early loosening up of the requirement of wearing masks in risks situations and late reaction to the second phase. Pirodsky, J. (2020) Czech Republic coronavirus updates, July 1: 149 cases Tuesday, face mask restrictions lifted, Expat.cz, 1. Juli https://news.expats.cz/coronavirus-in-the-czech-republic/czech-republic-coronavirus-updates-july-1-149-cases-tuesday-mask-arestrictions-lifted/, accessed 13.11.2020

[16]Mascarenhas, Lauren (2020) CDC now says masks protect both the wearers and those around them from Covid-19, CNN health, 11.November. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/11/10/health/masks-cdc-updated-guidance/index.html

[17] Li-Chien Chien , Christian K. Beÿ  and Kristi L. Koenig  (2020) Taiwan’s Successful COVID-19 Mitigation and Containment Strategy: Achieving Quasi Population Immunity. Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 September. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness/article/taiwans-successful-covid19-mitigation-and-containment-strategy-achieving-quasi-population-immunity/0123549586C95DCC93C77E5EF1F613D5

[18] El-Gingihy, Y. (2018). “The great PFI [Private Finance Initiative] heist: The real story of how Britain’s economy has been left high and dry by a doomed economic philosophy.” The Independent, 17 February. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/pfi-banks-barclays-hsbc-rbs-tony-blair-gordon-brown-carillion-capita-financial-crash-a8202661.html

[19] See e.g. Richter, Judith (2017) Comments on Draft Concept Note towards WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work, 14 November, http://g2h2.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Judith-Richter-1.pdf.

[20]  Understood by the simple definition of “rule setting formal and informal” and exemplified by the picture of who is at the rudder (French gouvernail) of the global health boat. More about the introduction of this term in the health field, see Richter, Judith (2001) Holding corporations accountable: corporate conduct, international codes, and citizen action. London & New York: Zed Books.

[21] About some ideas about how to redress institutional erosion, see  Jonathan H. Marks(2019) The Perils of Partnership: Industry Influence, Institutional Integrity, and Public Health. Oxford University Press (2019)

[22]Rodwin Marc A. (2020) WHO’s attempt to navigate commercial influence and conflicts of interest in nutrition programs while engaging with non-state actors: Reflections on WHO guidance for nation states: Comment on “Towards preventing and managing conflict of interest in nutrition policy? An analysis of submissions to a consultation on a draft WHO tool.” Int J Health Policy Manag. doi:10.34172/ijhpm.2020.162. If definition proposed in the OECD Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service is updated according to this model, the Guidelines, in particular its principles, can be used to counteract WHOs and also SUN’s problematic definitions. The problematic proposal to revise the guidelines “in partnership” with business, however, should be replaced by “in a due process”.

[23] E.g. OECD (2012). Recommendation of the Council on Principles for Public Governance of Public-Private Partnerships. Bruxelles, OECD. http://www.oecd.org/governance/budgeting/PPP-Recommendation.pdf

– see there also the proposed PPP definition which differs markedly from that used in UN circles.

—————————–

 

By the same Author on PEAH

Defending and Reclaiming WHO’s Capacity to Fulfil its Mandate: Suggestions from a Perspective of Language and Power by Judith Richter 

U.S. Philantrocapitalism and the Global Health Agenda by Anne-Emanuelle Birn and Judith Richter

News Flash 432: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

News Flash 432

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

 

Pandemic Treaty & Other New COVID Initiatives Grab Center Stage At World Health Assembly

Webinar registration: The Pandemic Preparedness Treaty: Unlocking intellectual property, knowledge and know-how for the public good May 21, 2021 02:00 PM in Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna

WHO: Should Members Pursue a Pandemic Treaty, In the Midst of a Global Pandemic?

‘Global health has its origins in colonialism and imperialism … it explains why IPRs are used to withhold technologies’

The decolonization of aid #1: a conversation from a historical perspective

Webinar registration: The decolonization of aid #2 – a development perspective Jun 2, 2021 04:00 PM in Amsterdam 

China and global development: seven things to read in May 

‘IP Monopoly Capitalism’ – A ‘Virus’ To Society During COVID-19 

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Weekly Update

More flexible storage conditions for BioNTech/Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine 

Big Pharma Commits to 5-Point Plan to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Equity

Left-behind Sanofi closes in on COVID vaccine

UNICEF: The COVAX Facility will deliver its 65 millionth vaccine dose this week. It should’ve been at least its 170 millionth. The time to donate excess doses is now 

MSF: US must commit to sharing more surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses

Dear President Biden and Congress: Time for US to Lead Response to the Growing COVID-19 Global Vaccine Crisis

Tanzania committee recommends joining COVAX, reporting COVID-19 cases 

COVID-19 vaccination in India: we need equity 

Why India’s digital divide is hampering vaccine access

Mental Health Awareness Week: Who takes care of Indian health workers in the second wave?

The cold chain storage challenge 

PF4 Immunoassays in Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia

Death in the Time of COVID by Brian Johnston 

WHO issues new guidance for research on genetically modified mosquitoes to fight malaria and other vector-borne diseases

Intestinal Worm Infection Can ‘Predispose Women To Viral STIs’

Centering Equity In The Design And Use Of Health Information Systems: Partnering With Communities On Race, Ethnicity, And Language Data

Webinar: International Arbitration and Corporate Impunity: Lessons from the Cases Chevron and RWE May 21, 2021 

Young women in the agricultural sector in Uganda: lessons from the Youth Forward Initiative 

Q&A: ‘We have biodiversity laws, it’s time to enforce them’

European Green Deal: Developing a sustainable blue economy in the European Union 

Net Zero by 2050 A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector

Dynamic WHO dashboard for island states highlights barriers and progress on climate change and health

Successful Crop Innovation Is Mitigating Climate Crisis Impact in Africa

Climate Crisis: Elephants in the Room are Getting Nastier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death in the Time of COVID

Recording and understanding the numbers of cases and deaths from COVID-19 at a local, regional and national level and how these vary over time and changing circumstances, is an epidemiological, as well as a moral imperative. However, as with many human endeavours, especially those based on good intentions, the reporting of this “truth” is never straightforward. 

And this happens at a time when death from COVID-19 has also generated challenges at a personal level including due to social distancing, lockdowns and travel restriction measures which impact on the spiritual and mental health of human beings is likely to far outlive the period of high mortality bound up with the pandemic

By Dr. Brian Johnston

Senior Public Health Specialist

London, United Kingdom

 Death in the Time of COVID

 

In many ways, COVID-19 has changed and shaped our relationship with death, both at a personal and societal level. COVID, as it is presented in the media, has understandably focussed on the physical manifestations of death – the cessation of life, the stopping of the heartbeat, the termination of electrical activity in the brain… By this reckoning the pandemic has already claimed millions of lives, each one of which is a real and personal tragedy for those involved. The daily and weekly tallies of these COVID deaths are published in macabre tables, where the misfortune of one country can be readily compared with that of another from various perspectives.

Recording and understanding the numbers of cases and deaths from COVID-19 at a local, regional and national level and how these vary over time and changing circumstances, is an epidemiological, as well as a moral imperative. However, as with many human endeavours, especially those based on good intentions, the reporting of this “truth” is never straightforward.

In some countries, the sheer magnitude of the impact of COVID on health, social and economic systems have prevented the accurate recording of deaths or made it extremely difficult. In these circumstances, there has undoubtedly been an under-reporting of the mortality associated with the pandemic. Where the infrastructure of the country was already stretched before COVID, the damage done by the virus has rubbed salt into an already open wound. Perhaps in the aftermath of COVID, the health, economic and social deficiencies highlighted by this global catastrophe can act as a catalyst to more affluent countries in their efforts to help those societies facing fundamental challenges on numerous levels. We shall see…

Under-reporting of deaths is to be regretted from a scientific perspective. Our ability to learn lessons from this terrible disease is compromised by poor or inaccurate data. Models and theories with their foundations in questionable information are like structures built on shifting sand. Theoretically, the next time we have a pandemic, the greater our knowledge and understanding; the greater our ability will be to address the new challenges and avoid making the same mistakes we made this time around. However, human beings do have a remarkable capacity for self-destruction and our decision-making processes are far from perfect and never straightforward.

In contrast, under-reporting of COVID deaths becomes sinister and divisive when the prestige of a country becomes tied to the number of deaths published. From this perverse perspective, the websites recording pandemic deaths are treated as league tables, in which the barometer of success of a state is measured by a lower tally of cases and/or deaths. The actual situation within such countries is to a large extent irrelevant, as media and official channels are used as conduits for misinformation aimed at keeping the reported numbers low. Modelling based on such data is immediately compromised and the impact from a scientific and epidemiological perspective is both immediate, long standing and perhaps irreversible.

Such dishonesty, aimed at making a country look good on the international stage is both short-sighted and counter-productive – it does a disservice to the citizens of the country in question, as well as to humanity in general.

A major barrier to effective action when addressing any problem is to deny its existence or to downplay its importance – if there are only a small number of deaths reported in a country, then those in power can justify treating COVID as a lower priority, or worse still, take measures that allow the damage to continue hidden from sight. Similarly, the ability of other states to find effective solutions to the many challenges offered by COVID is compromised by questionable or distorted data from countries consciously engaging in under-reporting of deaths.

Death from COVID-19 has also generated challenges at a personal level. Normally, the major events in life (births, marriages, funerals etc.) are marked by traditions and social gatherings. The risk of death from COVID has curbed many of these activities, which form a cornerstone of our existence and how we live our lives. Social distancing, lockdowns and travel restrictions have curtailed the way we express ourselves as social creatures. Traditions have been suppressed in the name of public health and the status quo has shifted radically to protect the population.

Whilst necessary in the short term, the impact of these measures on the spiritual and mental health of human beings is likely to far outlive the period of high mortality due to the pandemic. Similarly, the economic impact of COVID will take years to repair and in many cases the scars left by this pandemic will last a lifetime.

If we are to salvage anything positive from COVID-19 and truly learn practical and tangible lessons that will protect us in the future, we must deepen our knowledge of the disease. Any action which taints or compromises the creation of this shell of protective wisdom should be regarded as unacceptable and steps taken to neutralise the corrosive effects of such activities.

In gaining a deeper understanding of COVID-19 we are shaping our destiny and that of future generations, so that another pandemic will lead to fewer deaths and less suffering. Hope is a wonderful thing, but it must be linked to knowledge and action for effective solutions to be created.

COVID has brought us to our knees, but when its cousin arrives at our door in the years to come and reaches out a skeletal hand, we must drag it to its knees instead. Let’s hope we can…

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By the same Author recently on PEAH

Unleashing the True Potential of Data – COVID-19 and Beyond
The myriad of data sources now available create a real challenge for even the most literate of analysts and researchers, when trying to make sense of the emerging picture of COVID-19, in real time. Against this background, it could be argued that what we now need is greater synthesis of information, where data from multiple sources is combined and refined, to improve clarity and reduce the ambient “noise” that is currently in the system

News Flash 431: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

News Flash 431

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

An international pandemic treaty must centre on human rights 

Pandemic Treaty Proposal to go before WHO Member States this Week 

A New WHO International Treaty on Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Can It Address the Needs of the Global South? 

A global public health convention for the 21st century 

COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic. Main report of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response

WHO’s work in health emergencies. Strengthening preparedness for health emergencies: implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005). Report of the Review Committee on the Functioning of the International Health Regulations (2005) during the COVID-19 Response

Report of the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme

Learning session – How can we strengthen health systems worldwide? May 18 2021 at 3PM CET

100 years after the discovery of insulin, governments and health leaders have a crucial opportunity to support a new global resolution on diabetes and insulin access

Webinar registration: Global Health governance at the crossroads: An introduction to the 74th World Health Assembly

Webinar registration: Social Participation Works: Engaging those left behind to drive UHC May 20, 2021 12:00 PM in Zurich

Porto Social Summit: all partners commit to 2030 social targets

SDSN Youth Global Youth Networks Quarter 1 report

Global Integrity Day (9 June): Corruption and Poverty

Registration: 40th Anniversary – International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes May 21, 2021 08:00 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Webinar registration: Developing Gender-Sensitive Addiction Programmes Jun 16, 2021 01:30 PM in Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna

AEPF 13 – PROGRAMME (17TH MAY TO 24TH MAY, 2021) & REGISTRATION

UNFPA: The State of the World’s Midwifery 2021 

WHO ‘needs more powers’ says independent panel co-chair Helen Clark 

WHO Calls For Pharma Transparency In Clinical Trial Data Reporting 

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Weekly Update 

India reports 362,727 new coronavirus infections

WHO Upgrades Virus Mutation Driving India’s COVID Surge To ‘Variant of Concern’ – Global Cases Start To ‘Plateau’ 

Supply-chain strategies for essential medicines in rural western Kenya during COVID-19

Diseguaglianze globali al tempo della pandemia 

Excluding Refugees, Migrants & Other ‘Uprooted People’ From COVID Vaccine Campaigns Undermines Global Health & Safety 

Webinar registration: Cancel the debt: demanding debt justice for global recovery after Covid Tue, 25 May 2021 19:30 – 21:00 CEST 

EU COVID-19 SOLIDARITY PROGRAMME FOR THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP COUNTRIES

How to Assess the Willingness of US to Suspend Patent Protection on Vaccines?

Pope Francis backs waivers on intellectual property rights for vaccines 

Chinese Sinopharm Vaccine Gets WHO Green Light – Positioning It To Resupply COVAX Global Vaccine Facility 

Bolivia seeks to import COVID-19 vaccines from Biolyse, if Canada grants them a compulsory license

ANTICOV: largest clinical trial in Africa for people with mild COVID-19 to test new drug combination 

Digital health technologies and adherence to tuberculosis treatment 

Evaluation of the 2016–2020 regional tuberculosis response framework, WHO Western Pacific Region 

Opinion: Women everywhere deserve the ‘essential 15’ for a healthy pregnancy

UN Reports Acute Food Insecurity in Southern Madagascar 

South Asia’s ‘catastrophe’, soaring food prices, and EU migration deaths: The Cheat Sheet

As pesticides poison the planet, people put into practice toxic-free food systems 

Millions at risk as cities fail to adapt to climate change: report 

European Green Deal: Commission aims for zero pollution in air, water and soil

 

 

 

 

 

News Flash 430: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

News Flash 430

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

WHO calls for better hand hygiene and other infection control practices

Webinar registration: Virtual Policy Dialogue | The Revision of the EU Regulations on medicines for children and rare diseases May 20, 2021 12:00 PM in Brussels

Webinar registration: Lost in the pandemic? The pulse of global health in times of SARS-CoV-2 

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Weekly Update 

Biden Backs Waiving International Patent Protections For COVID-19 Vaccines

Biden commits to waiving vaccine patents, driving wedge with pharmaceutical companies

WHO Director-General commends United States decision to support temporary waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines

MSF applauds US’ leadership on waiving IP for COVID-19 vaccines

Time to End ‘Delaying Tactics’ on TRIPS Waiver, Say India And South Africa Ahead Of Critical WTO Meeting

Trade barriers ‘block global COVID-19 vaccine goals’ 

EMA starts rolling review of COVID-19 Vaccine (Vero Cell) Inactivated

EMA starts evaluating use of COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty in young people aged 12 to 15

WHO lists Moderna vaccine for emergency use

Moderna Signs Landmark Agreement With COVAX For 500 Million mRNA Vaccine Doses – WHO Asks G7 For US$20 Billion In COVID Finance

EMA starts evaluating use of Olumiant in hospitalised COVID-19 patients requiring supplemental oxygen

Covid-19 in Africa 

Latest Covid-19 Statistics from African Countries 

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Kicks Off in Africa’s Most Populous Country

WHO welcomes Sweden’s announcement to share COVID-19 vaccine doses with COVAX

The Medicines Patent Pool offers its support to the WHO COVID-19 technology transfer hub

More Strokes Observed Among Young & Healthy COVID Patients – New Study Finds

Vaccination plus Decarceration — Stopping Covid-19 in Jails and Prisons

Men and COVID-19: where’s the policy? 

The health workforce crisis should be the priority in the EU’s COVID-19 Recovery

WHO Director-General congratulates the Democratic Republic of the Congo as 12th Ebola outbreak is declared over; stresses need to maintain vigilance to prevent virus’s return 

MPP generic manufacturing partners to supply low- and middle-income countries with WHO-recommended paediatric ARV formulation 

Joe Biden raises Trump refugee cap after backlash

Will the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan solve long-standing health inequalities?

Healthy ageing, chronic disease management

Dietary tool aims to cut disease, climate change risks

NGOs call on ADB to end fossil fuel loans amid climate reboot

Brazilian Amazon released more carbon than it absorbed over past 10 years: study 

Brazil Relies on Rainfall that Depends on the Forests 

Researchers: Climate pledges see world closing on Paris goal