Advocacy Updates ~ September 27, 2021

September 27, 2021

Administration News

White House releases American Pandemic Preparedness Plan

On September 3, President Joe Biden released the American Pandemic Preparedness Plan. The plan focuses on strengthening global health security and pandemic preparedness, and lays out the administration’s thinking regarding a multilateral financing mechanism around these issues. The administration commits to lean forward and catalyze the advances in science, technology, and core capabilities required to protect the nation against future and potentially catastrophic biological threats, whether naturally-occurring, accidental, or deliberate.

Regarding the financing mechanism, the plan outlines the goal of establishing the international infrastructure and financing needed for pandemic preparedness. The fund would aim to “create local capacity and international systems to optimally coordinate on R&D, clinical evaluation, product approval, and distribution of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and supplies” and “catalyze sustainable international financing for health security capabilities for future pandemics and high consequence biological threats, including sustainable support for a global health security financing mechanism, such as a Financial Intermediary Fund, to support metrics-driven approaches to country capacity for countering biological threats.”

The White House fact sheet is available here and the press briefing is here. 

U.S. commits to increasing vaccine manufacturing

On September 2, the White House COVID-19 Response Team and public health officials announced the U.S. would invest nearly $3 billion in the vaccine supply chain. This investment is expected to create jobs domestically in the U.S., strengthen capabilities to respond to future health threats, and enable the U.S. to be the arsenal of vaccines for the world. 

Dr. John Nkengasong to be nominated to lead PEPFAR

On September 2, the New York Times reported that the Biden administration plans to nominate Dr. John Nkengasong, currently the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to lead the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Though the article noted that President Biden was expected to make the announcement in the coming days, as of the release of these updates, the nomination is yet to be officially announced.

USAID COVID-19 Gender Resources

USAID recently released a collection of up-to-date information and resources emphasizing the importance of gender in COVID-19 response.

New resource tracking U.S. COVID-19 vaccine donations

Last week, Kaiser Family Foundation released a new tracker on U.S. COVID-19 vaccine donations.

Congressional News

Atul Gawande nomination hearing on September 29

Dr. Atul Gawande has been nominated for the position of Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. His nomination hearing has been postponed to September 29 and will be live-streamed here. Ahead of the hearing, Global Health Council members and partners submitted questions for the record to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Global COVID-19 Vaccination Caucus launched

On September 3, ​​U.S. Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) launched the COVID-19 Global Vaccination Caucus with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). This caucus will explicitly focus on global vaccination and push for the manufacturing, production, and distribution of vaccines in low- and middle-income countries. 

International News

UN General Assembly, COVID-19 Summit, and UN Food Systems Summit

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) kicked off on Tuesday, September 14 and runs through Thursday, September 30. This year’s convenings were mostly virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Heads of State took the General Assembly floor virtually and in-person on the theme “Building resilience through hope – to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people and revitalize the United Nations.” On September 21st, U.S. President Joe Biden delivered his speech which emphasized the importance of multilateral institutions to tackle global challenges and previewed commitments the U.S. would make at the U.S.-hosted Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better

Global Health Council and other partners pushed for the summit to happen on the sidelines of UNGA to bring together leaders from government, civil society, the private sector, and international organizations to reset the global COVID-19 response and elevate the level of ambition required to collectively end the pandemic. Summit participants submitted videos detailing how they would help the world achieve global targets set ahead of the summit. You can view Global Health Council’s commitment here. President Biden and other U.S. government officials announced new commitments at the summit, including the purchase of an additional 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines doses to begin shipping in January 2021, $370 million for global vaccine readiness, $50 million to expand oxygen access, $250 million in seed funding for a Global Health Security Financial Intermediary Fund, and a new partnership with the European Union to expand vaccine supply and improve delivery. Global Health Council and our members and partners are following up with the Biden administration to ensure accountability to meeting these global targets. 

Other high-level events alongside the General Assembly also included the first-ever UN Food System Summit 2021, which saw nearly 300 commitments from around the world to accelerate action and to transform food systems, including a $900 million dollar pledge from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $10 billion pledge from the United States over five years (half domestically and half internationally).

G20 Health Ministers Declaration

On September 5-6,the G20 Health Ministers Meeting was held in Rome with three sessions focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in addition to improving pandemic prevention and preparedness going forward. At the end of the session, the leaders adopted a final declaration, which focused on four priority areas: healthy and sustainable recovery; building One Health resilience; coordinated and collaborative response; and equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and, diagnostics.

Former UK Prime Minister appointed WHO Ambassador for Global Health Financing

The World Health Organization (WHO) has appointed former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown as WHO Ambassador for Global Health Financing. Brown has been a powerful advocate for equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution and sustainable global health financing in the wake of the pandemic.

WHO launches pandemic intelligence hub

On September 1, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros and German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel inaugurated the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin. The Hub is part of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program and will work to increase availability of data, develop predictive models for risk analysis, link communities of practice globally, and give public health experts and policymakers the tools needed to “take rapid decisions to prevent and respond to future public health emergencies.”]The Hub is receiving an initial investment of $100 million from Germany.

Multilateral Leaders Task Force meet on scaling up COVID-19 tools in LMICs

At its third meeting, the Multilateral Leaders Taskforce on COVID-19, which includes the heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, WHO, and World Trade Organization, met with leaders from the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust, Africa CDC, Gavi, and UNICEF on the need to rapidly scale up COVID-19 tools in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), particularly in Africa. The joint statement called for addressing the crisis of vaccine inequity and included recommendations “to ensure all countries achieve the global goals of at least 10% coverage by September and 40% by end-2021.”

GPMB urges reforming pandemic preparedness and response

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) released a statement stressing four key principles for designing future instruments for pandemic preparedness and response, emphasizing inclusivity and legitimacy, equity and people-centric, coherence, and accountability. The statement reiterates GPMB’s calls for urgent action including to: hold a UN Summit and adopt a political declaration on health emergency preparedness and response, reach an agreement on a binding international instrument for health emergency response and pandemic preparedness, rapidly establish a multilateral financing mechanism for global health security, and ensuring sustainable funding for the WHO Emergency Programme.

Gates Foundation releases 2021 Goalkeepers Report

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has released its 2021 Goalkeepers Report, making a call for optimism and hailing innovation in unprecedented times. The Gates Foundation releases this report annually to measure progress towards the SDGs focused on health and development. This year’s report illustrates that although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted progress towards SDGs, the backsliding “could have been far worse.” 

Gains against HIV, TB, and malaria has slowed says Global Fund Results Report

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has released their 2021 Results Report revealing the tremendous impact COVID-19 has had on HIV, TB, and malaria programs. Although the report shows some progress against the three diseases, it also reveals that “key programmatic results have declined for the first time in the history of the Global Fund.” The COVID-19 pandemic led to catastrophic declines in the number of people being treated for TB, as well as significant declines in HIV testing and prevention services for key populations. Malaria prevention activities remained stable or increased compared to 2019 levels, although overall progress against the disease stalled. 

New Executive Director appointed to UN Women

On September 13th, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Sima Sami Bahous as Executive Director of UN Women. Bahous most recently served as Permanent Representative of Jordan at the UN. Bahous brings to the position “expertise in advancing women empowerment and rights, addressing discrimination and violence, and promoting sustainable socio-economic development towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”