News Round Up

Politics & Policies

The outbreak of COVID-19, with staggeringly high numbers of cases and deaths both domestically and globally, is already causing policymakers to initiate a post-mortem on how the global and domestic response went wrong.

Controlling the spread of infectious diseases requires multilateral cooperation. The objective of the first International Sanitary Conference in Paris in 1851 was to reduce to a safe minimum the conflicting and costly maritime quarantine requirements of different nations. Possibly the first binding international convention of the modern era addressed cholera. It came into force in Venice in 1892.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread globally, the urgent need for greater surveillance, equipment, personnel, testing, and laboratory capacity to save lives and contain the spread of the virus continues to grow.

Global health is about big saves and lofty goals like universal health coverage and ending epidemics. This is why global health attracts lots of professionals from diverse fields (including me). But in the race to save lives, the field of global health tends to ignore a big risk: burnout. It was a concern long before the Covid-19 pandemic, and might get worse because of the ongoing crisis.

Programs, Grants & Awards

Four new IntraHealth International and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill summer fellows completed their projects in gender-based violence, data, and reproductive health this month.

On 30 June, the Exemplars in Global Health (EGH) was launched to broadly share lessons from positive outliers in global health. EGH is incubated at Gates Ventures, the private office of Bill Gates, in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. EGH brings together experts, funders, and collaborators around the world with the mission of identifying positive global health outliers, analyzing and understanding what makes these countries successful, and disseminating the core learnings so they can be replicated in comparable settings.

Research

A study by scientists from the University of Southampton has examined the chances of catching COVID-19 in a train carriage carrying an infectious person.

Data for front-line health-care workers and risk of COVID-19 are limited. We sought to assess risk of COVID-19 among front-line health-care workers compared with the general community and the effect of personal protective equipment (PPE) on risk.

The development of a safe and effective vaccine will likely be required to end the COVID-19 pandemic. A group of scientists, led by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) immunologist Dan H. Barouch, MD, PhD, now report that a leading candidate COVID-19 vaccine developed at BIDMC in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson raised neutralizing antibodies and robustly protected non-human primates (NHPs) against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This study builds on the team’s previous results and is published in the journal Nature.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) reportedly infected otolaryngologists disproportionately in the early parts of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Recommendations from national and international health organizations suggest minimizing the use of flexible laryngoscopy as a result.

Diseases & Disasters

Tuberculosis kills 1.5 million people each year. Lockdowns and supply-chain disruptions threaten progress against the disease as well as H.I.V. and malaria. It begins with a mild fever and malaise, followed by a painful cough and shortness of breath. The infection prospers in crowds, spreading to people in close reach. Containing an outbreak requires contact tracing, as well as isolation and treatment of the sick for weeks or months.

There may be new trouble ahead for states that had gotten COVID-19 under control after the March and April surges but are now seeing case numbers drift up.

Bans on international travel cannot stay in place indefinitely, and countries are going to have to do more to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus within their borders, the World Health Organization said.

COVID-19 is a precedent-shattering monster of a pandemic. There’s never been anything quite like it.  Historians of public health have struggled mightily to find apt comparisons to our current pandemic. They’ve landed most often on the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918. On the surface, their reasoning makes sense: A lethal virus quickly spreads globally and infects millions.

Technology 

In March and April 2020, an ecosystem of tracing apps suddenly emerged, presenting digital solutions as indispensable for winning the battle against Covid-19.

GHTC is tracking research and development (R&D) efforts to combat SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 emerged in late 2019 in the Hubei province of China. Since then, it has caused a global pandemic. Here is a list of R&D efforts in which GHTC member organizations are involved.

Leading infectious  disease expert Anthony Fauci said  that the progression from sequencing the coronavirus to getting Moderna’s potential vaccine into its phase three trial “is the best we, in the United States, have ever done.”

As the world races to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) have discovered a vital clue as to why malaria vaccines keep failing, which could potentially change how vaccines for the deadly disease and others are made.

Environmental Health

Christiana Figueres, a former diplomat and longtime climate change leader, sees optimism as a key solution for climate change. In fact, her whole brand is optimism.

The United States will increasingly face complex, challenging scenarios, given the confluence of our two most pressing global health threats — the rapid emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the insidiously evolving climate crisis. Both these crises disproportionately harm the health of vulnerable and economically disadvantaged people, including those affected by structural racism.

There is no doubt that natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change. Such hazards, scientists warn, are likely to intersect with the COVID-19 outbreak and the public-health response, including by compounding stress on health-care systems, depleting emergency-response resources, and undermining people’s ability to adhere to social distancing. They will exacerbate and be exacerbated by both the unfolding economic crisis and long-standing socioeconomic disparities, both within countries and across regions.

Equity & Disparities

As soon as the first COVID-19 vaccines get approved, a staggering global need will confront limited supplies.

Ten years on since the United Nations General Assembly officially recognized the human right to water and sanitation, 1 in 10 people — 785 million in all — still lack access to clean water close to home.

From Louisville to London, the call for social justice has reached fever pitch worldwide as multicultural voices decry police brutality and the disparities that imperil Black lives. Amid the mainly peaceful protests, colonial monuments are falling and global consciousness is rising — even in Idlib, Syria, where a mural on a bombed building memorializes George Floyd.

Women, Maternal, Neonatal & Children’s Health

An estimated 1 in 3 children — roughly 800 million — around the world are poisoned with lead at levels associated with decreased intelligence and developmental challenges.

The study by Timothy Roberton and colleagues (July, 2020),1 which modelled the indirect effects of COVID-19 on maternal and child mortality in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), highlights potential consequences of disruptions to routine health care and decreased access to food.

Transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby during pregnancy is uncommon, and the rate of infection is no greater when the baby is born vaginally, breastfed or allowed contact with the mother, according to a new study. The research also found that babies that did test positive for COVID-19, were mostly asymptomatic. The findings are published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

 

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