Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)
We certainly recognize the velocity of global developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. While we have concentrated the most current key reports just below, COVID-19 announcements, analysis and commentary will be found throughout this issue, in all sections.
Beyond the considerable continuing coverage in the global general media:
:: Daily WHO situation reports here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports
:: WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) daily press briefings here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/media-resources/press-briefings
Situation report – 53 [WHO]
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
13 March 2020
SITUATION IN NUMBERS
Globally :: 132,0 758 confirmed [7499 new]
China :: 80,991 confirmed [11 new]
:: 3,180 deaths [07 new]
Outside of China
:: 51,767 confirmed [7488 new]
:: 122 countries/territories/areas [5 new]
:: 1775 deaths [335 new]
WHO RISK ASSESSMENT
China – Very High
Regional Level – Very High
Global Level – Very High
:: Five new countries/territories/areas (Jersey, Réunion, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba and Guyana) have reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
:: The WHO, UN Foundation and partners launched a first-of-its-kind COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund today. The fund will raise money from a wide range of donors to support the work of the WHO and partners to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
:: Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) has been a major factor in preventive and mitigation measures. To ensure evidence-based quality guidance and prompt response to global demand, WHO convened a WHO Health Emergencies Programme Experts Advisory Panel for IPC.
:: A team of experts from WHO, Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network partners, the Robert Koch Institute in Germany and the Chinese Center for Disease Control concluded a technical support mission on COVID-19 to Iran on 10 March 2020. During the team’s mission in Iran, the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME) launched a national campaign to control COVID-19.
WHO, UN Foundation and partners launch first-of-its-kind COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund
13 March 2020 News release
GENEVA and Washington, D.C. – A new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Solidarity Response Fund will raise money from a wide range of donors to support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund, the first-of-its-kind, enables private individuals, corporations and institutions anywhere in the world to come together to directly contribute to global response efforts, and has been created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, together with WHO.
“We are at a critical point in the global response to COVID-19 – we need everyone to get involved in this massive effort to keep the world safe,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We are immensely grateful to the UN Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation for coming forward to help us set up this fund. A lot of people and institutions have been saying they want to contribute to the fight against the novel coronavirus. Now they can.”
The fund launches with major support already lined up, including from Facebook and Google who have instituted a matching scheme for funds raised through their platforms, while individual donors are also supporting the fund through www.COVID19ResponseFund.org…
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard Launch Initiative to Speed Development and Access to Therapies for COVID-19
COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will coordinate R&D efforts and remove barriers to drug development and scale-up to address the epidemic
SEATTLE, March 10, 2020 – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard today committed up to $125 million in seed funding to speed-up the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling-up treatments. The partners are committed to equitable access, including making products available and affordable in low-resource settings. The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will play a catalytic role by accelerating and evaluating new and repurposed drugs and biologics to treat patients with COVID-19 in the immediate term, and other viral pathogens in the longer-term. Currently there are no broad-spectrum antivirals or immunotherapies available for the fight against emerging pathogens, and none approved for use on COVID-19.
The Gates Foundation and Wellcome are each contributing up to $50 million, and the Mastercard Impact Fund has committed up to $25 million to catalyze the initial work of the accelerator. The Gates Foundation’s funding is part of its up to $100 million commitment to the COVID-19 response announced last month.
“Viruses like COVID-19 spread rapidly, but the development of vaccines and treatments to stop them moves slowly,” said Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “If we want to make the world safe from outbreaks like COVID-19, particularly for those most vulnerable, then we need to find a way to make research and development move faster. That requires governments, private enterprise, and philanthropic organizations to act quickly to fund R&D.”
The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will work with the World Health Organization, government and private sector funders and organizations, as well as the global regulatory and policy-setting institutions. The Accelerator will have an end-to-end focus, from drug pipeline development through manufacturing and scale-up. By sharing research, coordinating investments, and pooling resources, these efforts can help to accelerate research. This kind of collaboration was a key lesson from the 2014 Ebola outbreak. By providing fast and flexible funding at key stages of the development process, the Accelerator will de-risk the pathway for new drugs and biologics for COVID-19 and future epidemic threats, ensuring access in lower-resource countries.
The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will operate jointly as an initiative of the funders, drawing on expertise from inside and outside their organizations. The Accelerator will pursue several aspects of the development cycle to streamline the pathway from candidate product to clinical assessment, use, and manufacturing. To identify candidate compounds, the Accelerator will take a three-pronged approach: testing approved drugs for activity against COVID-19, screening libraries of thousands of compounds with confirmed safety data, and considering new investigational compounds and monoclonal antibodies. Drugs or monoclonal antibodies that pass initial screening would then be developed by an industry partner. The biotech and pharmaceutical industries will be critical partners, bringing their compound libraries and clinical data to the collaboration and lending commercialization and other expertise that will be required to scale up successful drugs and monoclonal antibodies. In parallel to the development of the COVID-19 drug pipeline, the Accelerator will work with regulators to align criteria and develop manufacturing capacity with industry. An accelerated pathway to bringing effective treatments to patients is around one year for products that have current regulatory approval or candidates with existing clinical data. The timeline would be longer for compounds further upstream in the pipeline that have limited existing clinical data.
Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome said, “This virus is an unprecedented global threat, and one for which we must propel international partnerships to develop treatments, rapid diagnostics, and vaccines. Science is moving at a phenomenal pace against COVID-19, but to get ahead of this epidemic we need greater investment and to ensure research co-ordination. The Therapeutics Accelerator will allow us to do this for potential treatments with support for research, development, assessment, and manufacturing. COVID-19 is an extremely challenging virus, but we’ve proved that through collaborating across borders we can tackle emerging infectious diseases. We must strive to strengthen efforts in the face of COVID-19, and in doing so, continue to make sure advances are accessible and affordable to all. Investing now, at scale, at risk and as a collective global effort is vital if we are to change the course of this epidemic. We welcome others to join us in this effort.”
While antiviral drugs are approved to lessen the severity of seasonal flu and treat HIV, among other viral diseases, none have demonstrated efficacy against the current epidemic. One reason for the lack of effective treatments is that products may not have an immediate market, which can slow or prevent their research and commercial development. The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator is designed to help by bringing together resources and expertise to lower the financial and technical risk for academia, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies, while ensuring that these products are accessible and affordable to people in low-resource settings. The expertise of pharmaceutical companies will be critical in identifying, researching, and commercializing successful drugs.
“We’re proud to join this crucial effort to combat COVID-19 in furtherance of our commitment to inclusive growth,” said Mike Froman, vice chairman of Mastercard. “This global challenge not only represents a risk to the health and safety of populations all over the world, but also poses a potential disruption to the economic vitality of millions of people, businesses, and organizations worldwide. Our experience with financial inclusion shows us the importance of building a network of parties who bring not only their capital, but complementary assets and skill sets to the table, and we welcome other partners concerned about inclusive growth to join this effort.”
COVID-19: IFRC, UNICEF and WHO issue guidance to protect children and support safe school operations
Guidance includes practical actions and checklists for administrators, teachers, parents and children
10 March 2020 Joint News Release
GENEVA/NEW YORK – The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) today issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe. It also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities.
In the event of school closures, the guidance includes recommendations to mitigate against the possible negative impacts on children’s learning and wellbeing. This means having solid plans in place to ensure the continuity of learning, including remote learning options such as online education strategies and radio broadcasts of academic content, and access to essential services for all children. These plans should also include necessary steps for the eventual safe reopening of schools…
The economic impact of COVID-19: Can policy makers avert a multi-trillion dollar crisis?
Geneva, Switzerland, (09 March 2020)
:: Debt, delusion and policy drift likely to impact economic effects of health crisis.
:: Downside scenario sees a $2 trillion shortfall in global income with a $220 billion hit to developing countries.
:: Coordinated policymaking is needed to ensure localized incidents do not impact global markets.
The spread of the coronavirus is first and foremost a public health emergency, but it is also, a significant economic threat. The so-called “Covid-19” shock will cause a recession in some countries and depress global annual growth this year to below 2.5 per cent, the recessionary threshold for the world economy.
Even if the worst is avoided, the hit to global income, compared with what forecasters had been projecting for 2020 will be capped at around the trillion-dollar mark. But could it be worse? Published today, a new UNCTAD analysis suggests why this may be the case.
Losses of consumer and investor confidence are the most immediate signs of spreading contagion, the analysis suggests.
However, a combination of asset price deflation, weaker aggregate demand, heightened debt distress and a worsening income distribution could trigger a more vicious downward spiral. Widespread insolvency and possibly another “Minsky moment”, a sudden, big collapse of asset values which would mark the end of the growth phase of this cycle cannot be ruled out…
PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
[Accessed 14 Mar 2020]
Impact of international travel and border control measures on the global spread of the novel 2019 coronavirus outbreak
Chad R. Wells, Pratha Sah, Seyed M. Moghadas, Abhishek Pandey, Affan Shoukat, Yaning Wang, Zheng Wang, Lauren A. Meyers, Burton H. Singer, and Alison P. Galvani
PNAS first published March 13, 2020.
To contain the global spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19), border control measures, such as airport screening and travel restrictions, have been implemented in several countries. Our results show that these measures likely slowed the rate of exportation from mainland China to other countries, but are insufficient to contain the global spread of COVID-19. With most cases arriving during the asymptomatic incubation period, our results suggest that rapid contact tracing is essential both within the epicenter and at importation sites to limit human-to-human transmission outside of mainland China.
The novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in mainland China has rapidly spread across the globe. Within 2 mo since the outbreak was first reported on December 31, 2019, a total of 566 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS CoV-2) cases have been confirmed in 26 other countries. Travel restrictions and border control measures have been enforced in China and other countries to limit the spread of the outbreak. We estimate the impact of these control measures and investigate the role of the airport travel network on the global spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Our results show that the daily risk of exporting at least a single SARS CoV-2 case from mainland China via international travel exceeded 95% on January 13, 2020. We found that 779 cases (95% CI: 632 to 967) would have been exported by February 15, 2020 without any border or travel restrictions and that the travel lockdowns enforced by the Chinese government averted 70.5% (95% CI: 68.8 to 72.0%) of these cases. In addition, during the first three and a half weeks of implementation, the travel restrictions decreased the daily rate of exportation by 81.3% (95% CI: 80.5 to 82.1%), on average. At this early stage of the epidemic, reduction in the rate of exportation could delay the importation of cases into cities unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak, buying time to coordinate an appropriate public health response.
[U.S.] White House
Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak
Mar 13, 2020
Pfizer Outlines Five-Point Plan to Battle COVID-19
Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla Calls on Biopharma Industry to Collaborate on Combatting the Global Pandemic
March 13, 2020
Pfizer today issued a five-point plan calling on the biopharmaceutical industry to join the company in committing to unprecedented collaboration to combat COVID-19. Dr. Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO…
…Pfizer is making five promises that will help scientists more rapidly bring forward therapies and vaccines to protect humankind from this escalating pandemic and prepare the industry to better respond to future global health crises.
1. Sharing tools and insights: With very little known about this virus, many are working to develop cell-based assays, viral screening, serological assays, and translational models to test potential therapies and vaccines. Pfizer is committed to making the vital tools we develop available on an open source platform to the broader scientific community and to sharing the data and learnings gained with other companies in real time to rapidly advance therapies and vaccines to patients.
2. Marshalling our people: Human capital is our most valuable resource. Pfizer has created a SWAT team of our leading virologists, biologists, chemists, clinicians, epidemiologists, vaccine experts, pharmaceutical scientists and other key experts to focus solely on addressing this pandemic. This team is applying their passion, commitment and expertise to a single focus of accelerating the discovery and development process that will deliver therapies and vaccines to patients as soon as possible.
3. Applying our drug development expertise: Many smaller biotech companies are screening compounds or existing therapies for activity against the virus causing COVID-19, but some lack the experience in late stage development and navigating the complex regulatory systems. Pfizer is committed to sharing our clinical development and regulatory expertise to support the most promising candidates these companies bring forward.
4. Offering our manufacturing capabilities: Once a therapy or vaccine is approved it will need to be rapidly scaled and deployed around the world to put an end to this pandemic. As one of the largest manufacturers of vaccines and therapeutics, Pfizer is committed to using any excess manufacturing capacity and to potentially shifting production to support others in rapidly getting these life-saving breakthroughs into the hands of patients as quickly as possible.
5. Improving future rapid response: Finally, to address future global health threats, Pfizer is reaching out to federal agencies including NIH, NIAID and CDC to build a cross-industry rapid response team of scientists, clinicians and technicians able to move into action immediately when future epidemics surface…
Johnson & Johnson Announces Collaboration with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to Accelerate COVID-19 Vaccine Development
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., March 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Johnson & Johnson today announced that its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies have entered a collaboration with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) to support the development of a preventive vaccine candidate for COVID-19. The parties have commenced preclinical testing of multiple vaccine prospects, with the aim to identify by the end of the month a COVID-19 vaccine candidate for clinical trials.
Janssen is optimistic that, in collaboration with multiple global strategic partners, it can initiate a Phase 1 clinical study of a potential vaccine candidate by the end of the year. In parallel to these efforts, Janssen is preparing to upscale production and manufacturing capacities to levels required to meet global public health vaccination needs…