Advocacy Updates: Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August 31, 2021

A note about the situation in Afghanistan: GHC is coordinating with our members and with InterAction to gather information and resources as swiftly as we can to help those in need of assistance. Please email if you would like more information.

Administration News

U.S. intelligence community releases inconclusive report on coronavirus origins

The U.S. intelligence community provided President Biden with an inconclusive report examining the origins of the novel coronavirus following a 90-day investigation. An unclassified version of the report notes that the intelligence community remains divided on how the novel coronavirus emerged, but that two hypotheses are the most plausible: naturally, jumping from animals to humans, or as the result of a lab leak in central China. The report states that more information is required to provide a definitive explanation of how the virus emerged. WHO has outlined the next phase of its origin studies, more details of which can be found below. 

CDC establishes disease forecasting center

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it will establish the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics to inform public health decision-making. The Center will receive initial funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and will perform three key functions: predict, connect, and inform. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky noted the Center will “model and forecast public health concerns and share information in real-time to activate governmental, private sector, and public actions in anticipation of threats both domestically and abroad.”

New CDC office in Southeast Asia to focus on health security

On August 25, Vice President Kamala Harris launched the CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office in Hanoi, Vietnam. The new Regional Office will allow the U.S. and its regional partners to address shared health priorities and collectively prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. Among the new office’s priorities are ensuring a coordinated response to public health emergencies and strengthening surveillance and early warning systems for disease detection.The CDC also has regional offices in Eastern/Central Europe, the Middle East/North Africa, and South America.

President Biden announces key nominations relevant to global health and development

On August 18, President Biden announced the nomination of Scott A. Nathan to serve as Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. On August 25, President Biden announced the nomination of Elizabeth M. Allen to serve as the Assistant Secretary of State for Global Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and the nomination of Carla Koppell to serve as Assistant Administrator for Development, Democracy, and Innovation at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


Congressional News

Rep. Pocan introduces bill directing 1% of defense funds to global COVID-19 vaccination effort

On Wednesday, August 18, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduced the COVID Defense Act, which would transfer 1.3%, or $9.6 billion, of U.S. military spending authorized in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act for global vaccine procurement. These funds would be directed to COVAX with the potential for procuring an additional 1.8 billion vaccines for low- and-middle-income countries in 2021 and early 2022. The bill would also authorize the President to direct the same amount of funding for global COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution efforts.

Rep. Krishnamoorthi and colleagues send letter to President Biden and congressional leadership urging funding for global vaccination campaign

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-MN), Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), together with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), published a letter calling for $34 billion in the reconciliation package to establish an American-led global vaccination campaign, principally by accelerating the production of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. and lower-income countries. The letter notes that lagging vaccine equity necessitates a greater commitment from the U.S. to both provide vaccines to the world and ensure their end-to-end delivery, a call echoed by the global health advocacy community. This letter was signed by 116 Members of Congress.


Multilateral News

UN General Assembly

The 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 76) will open on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. The first day of the high-level General Debate will be Tuesday, September 21, 2021. GHC is tracking UNGA happenings, please share how you are engaging at UNGA with The UN Foundation is collating UNGA events here. 

WHO releases new funding appeal to combat Delta variant

With the Delta variant causing COVID-19 surges around the world, putting progress against the virus at risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a $7.7 billion funding appeal, the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response (RADAR). RADAR would rapidly scale up and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostic tests, therapeutics, oxygen supplies, and personal protective equipment for health workers and enhance the research and development into the next generation of health tools. RADAR is not an additional funding appeal and is part of the ACT-Accelerator’s overall 2021 budget.

WHO outlines next phase of SARS-CoV-2 origin studies

Following the publication in March 2021 of the joint WHO-China phase one studies on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, WHO has outlined the next series of studies and is continuing discussions with experts and Member States on next steps. The next series of studies will build on the first phase, implement the recommendations outlined in the March report, and “accelerate scientific efforts” on all hypotheses. A new WHO advisory group, known as the International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO), will support the next phase of studies and will advise WHO on developing a framework for studying the future emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential.

NGO delegate applications now open for UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) was the first United Nations program to have formal civil society representation on its governing body. It is guided by the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) with rotating representation from 22-member state governments, the 11 cosponsoring UN agencies of UNAIDS, and an NGO Delegation of 10 civil society representatives. The NGO Delegation has two representatives per UN region (one main delegate and one alternate delegate). The PCB holds the Joint Programme accountable and ensures that the needs of communities affected by the HIV response are addressed in strategy and programming. The NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS PCB has vacancies for a full two-year term (2022 – 2023) and is now recruiting for and the deadline for applications is September 24, 2021.