Advocacy Updates ~ September 8, 2020

September 08, 2020

Administration News

Trump Administration reaffirms withdrawal plan from WHO

In a statement released by the Department of State, the Trump Administration announced steps to complete the process of withdrawal from the World Health Organization. They announced the remaining portion of the 2020 assessment, upwards of $62 million USD, will be reprogrammed to the UN to pay other assessments. Additionally, through July 2021, the U.S. will recall HHS detailees from WHO headquarters, regional offices, and country offices, and reassign the experts. U.S. participation in WHO technical meetings and events will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Additional information is included in the Special Briefing held on September 2.

White House Adds Infectious Diseases to FY22 Budget Priorities

Based on a memo from the Trump Administration’s FY22 budget priorities, explaining that the White House will prioritize investment in research and development for biotechnology as one of the five “industries of the future.”

HHS plan, Healthy People 2030, outlines pandemic response goals

On August 18, HHS released it’s next 10-year plan, which includes goals for responding to future disease outbreaks. The plan has 355 measurable objectives, each with 10-year targets, and some of them include global health goals to prepare for and prevent future disease outbreaks.

CDC: African Region certified as wild poliovirus-free

On August 25, the African Region was officially certified as wild poliovirus-free.  This effort began 24 years ago with a call-to-action by the late South African President Nelson Mandela.

NIAID Establishes Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced that it awarded 11 grants with a total first-year value of approximately $17 million to establish the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID). The global network will involve multidisciplinary investigations into how and where viruses and other pathogens emerge from wildlife and spillover to cause disease in people.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Release Equitable Allocation Report

The National Equitable Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a draft report that aims to outline the prioritization of groups to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It lays out detailed recommendations on who should be at the front of the line, starting with healthcare workers in high-risk settings, followed by adults of any age who have medical conditions that put them at significantly higher risk of having severe disease.


Congressional News

The House and Senate are scheduled to return for votes on Tuesday, September 8.


International News

172 Countries Participate in COVAX

172 economies are committed to participate in COVAX; the United States has opted not to join. COVAX, a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries with worldwide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, once they are licensed and approved. COVAX currently has the world’s largest and most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolio – including nine candidate vaccines, with a further nine under evaluation, and conversations under way with other major producers. Global health advocates in the U.S. have urged the Trump Administration to participate in COVAX and have repeatedly urged equitable access to vaccines.

Additional Members added to the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response

The newly formed Independent Panel announced additional members meant to oversee the global review of the COVID-19 pandemic response. You can find the complete list of panel members here.

Act Accelerator vaccine pillar seeking civil society applicants

ACT-A is seeking representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) to participate in COVAX – the vaccine pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator – which aims to develop, manufacture, and allocate 2 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021. Application guidance can be found here.

WHO announces review of its emergency response capacity

WHO recently announced it will establish a high-level review of the organization’s capacity to respond to disease outbreaks in the framework of the International Health Regulations. Made up of independent experts and in collaboration with the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, and the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Program, they will make recommendations that focus on how pandemics are declared and some of the structures of the emergency response program.