UN chief: Pandemic shows need for universal health coverage

The United Nations chief says the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the “utterly inadequate health systems” around the world and he argues that universal health coverage is essential for nations to deal with future health crises

He said the failure to respond adequately to the outbreak has claimed more than 1 million lives, infected over 30 million people in 190 countries, wiped out 500 million jobs and is costing the global economy $375 billion a month. Indicators of human advancement and well-being are going in reverse for the first time since the U.N. started measuring them in 1990, he added.

Guterres said in a video message and policy briefing that COVID-19 has shown the need for universal health coverage, strong public health systems, and emergency preparedness for communities and people everywhere.

“At least half the world’s people do not have access to the health services they need,” he said. “Some 100 million people are driven into poverty each year by catastrophic health care costs.”

The secretary-general noted all countries agreed in 2015 on U.N. goals for 2030 that include working toward universal health coverage, “but we cannot wait 10 years.”

“We need universal health coverage, including mental health coverage, now,” Guterres said.

According to the new policy paper, “health is a fundamental human right, and universal health coverage is a critical tool for achieving health for all.”

“Universal health coverage is defined as a situation where all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without undue financial hardship,” it says.

“The report is not linked to the electoral calendar here in the United States,” Dujarric said. “It is targeted at every country, and I think we see the world over the issues that arise when people don’t have access to health care.”

The policy paper also calls for urgent efforts to control further transmission of the coronavirus, including universal provisions for testing, isolating, contact tracing and care, and the protection of other health services during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 is indirectly killing people with heart disease and cancer, as well as those it infects,” Guterres said. “And access to mental health services and sexual and reproductive health programs cannot be compromised.”

He also called for a huge expansion of access to new rapid diagnostic methods and treatments, and ensuring that future coronavirus vaccines “are a global public good with equitable access for everyone, everywhere.”

The lessons learned from the pandemic “call for universal health coverage

White House chief of staff blocking new coronavirus vaccine guidelines

The White House is blocking strict new coronavirus vaccine guidelines proposed by the Food and Drug Administration due to a provision that would likely prevent any vaccine from being authorized before the November election, several people familiar with the matter told The New York Times.

The guidelines are intended to reassure the public that coronavirus vaccines are being held to a common standard, the Times reports. They were submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for approval on Sept. 21, but White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has intervened, questioning the need for researchers to follow vaccine trial volunteers for two months after they receive their final dose. Per the guidelines, this would have to happen before authorization is granted for a vaccine, with FDA officials saying it’s necessary to determine if there are side effects and to make sure the vaccine protects people for longer than a few weeks.

Trump has been promising a vaccine and pushing for one to be released before the Nov. 3 presidential election, and under the guidelines it is highly unlikely a vaccine would be authorized before then. The FDA is now going around the White House, the Times reports, and will share the guidelines with an outside advisory committee with the hope that they will enforce the standards. Read more at The New York Times.

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Trump says he feels better, but his chief of staff says he is ‘still not on a clear path to a full recovery.’

Mr. Meadows called into Fox News on Saturday night, knowing the president was most likely watching, and praised his “unbelievable courage” and “unbelievable improvement.” But he also confirmed that Mr. Trump’s condition on Friday was worse than originally described. “Yesterday morning we were real concerned with that,” Mr. Meadows said. “He had a fever and his blood oxygen level had dropped rapidly.”

The mixed messages only exacerbated the confusion and uncertainties surrounding the president’s situation. During their briefing on Saturday, the doctors refused to provide important details and gave timelines that conflicted with earlier White House accounts and left the impression that the president was sick and began treatment earlier than officially reported.

Two people close to the White House said in separate interviews with The New York Times that the president had trouble breathing on Friday and that his oxygen level dropped, prompting his doctors to give him supplemental oxygen while at the White House and transfer him to Walter Reed where he could be monitored with better equipment and treated more rapidly in case of trouble.

During the televised briefing, Dr. Conley said the president was not currently receiving supplemental oxygen on Saturday but repeatedly declined to say definitively whether he had ever been on oxygen. “None at this moment and yesterday with the team, while we were all here, he was not on oxygen,” he said, seeming to suggest that there was a period on Friday at the White House when he was.

Dr. Conley likewise appeared to indicate that the president was first diagnosed with the virus on Wednesday rather than Thursday night, before Mr. Trump disclosed the test on Twitter early Friday morning. While describing what he said was the president’s progress, he said Mr. Trump was “just 72 hours into the diagnosis now,” which would mean midday on Wednesday.

Just two hours later, the White House issued a statement it said was written by Dr. Conley trying to clarify. “This morning while summarizing the president’s health, I incorrectly used the term ‘72 hours’ instead of ‘Day 3,’” it said.

Dr. Conley also said that on Thursday afternoon “we repeated testing and, given clinical indications, had a little bit more concern.” Late that night, he said, “we got the P.C.R. confirmation that he was” positive. Mr. Trump attended campaign events on both Wednesday night and Thursday without wearing a mask and gathering hundreds of supporters who likewise were not taking precautions against the virus.

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Former CDC chief calls for ‘comprehensive approach’ as U.S. reports 55K new cases

Oct. 3 (UPI) — The former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the United States needs a more comprehensive approach to containing the novel coronavirus as case loads rose in at least two dozen states and Puerto Rico.

“Testing does not replace safety measures including consistent mask use, physical distancing, and hand washing,” former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a Friday statement shortly after it was revealed that President Donald Trump has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, 24 states saw their number of new cases rise at least 10% this week, and an analysis published by The Washington Post Saturday said COVID-19 cases have risen in 33 states and Puerto Rico since late August.

At least 12 states have also reported rising hospitalizations this week, with upticks in new cases throughout the country, with the state of New York reporting its highest one-day case count since May 28.

The United States reported about 55,000 new cases and 915 deaths Friday, according to Johns Hopkins.

The country’s seven-day average of new cases this week was 42,400 — about 20% higher than mid-September, when it was at a two-month low of 34,300.

The new case count is still below the mid-summer peak of 67,000 in July, but health officials warn the climbing numbers could lead toward a surge as weather grows colder and more people spend time indoors in enclosed spaces.

Also Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer violated her constitutional authority by continuing to issue orders to combat COVID-19 without the approval of legislators.

The ruling was requested by a federal judge earlier this year.

It effectively prohibits Whitmer from invoking emergency powers, which she has used to close businesses and require residents to wear masks — and serves as advice to the federal court, indicating how a federal court could rule in a lawsuit challenging Whitmer’s use of emergency powers.

President Donald Trump hospitalized for COVID-19

President Donald Trump exits the Marine One helicopter with his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Friday evening at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He made the short flight from the White House. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

DVIDS – News – Navy Medicine Force Master Chief Office Changes Hands


Force Master Chief (FORCM) Michael J. Roberts relieved FORCM Hosea Smith Jr. as Navy Medicine’s Force Master Chief and Director of the Hospital Corps during a change of office ceremony at the Defense Health Headquarters Oct. 1.

Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, Navy Surgeon General and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, presided over the ceremony as staff witnessed the change of office.

“FORCM Smith focused on readiness and that has value to me, and to this organization,” said Gillingham. “FORCM has made significant contributions to Navy Medicine. Driving forward initiatives that are professionalizing the Hospital Corps and preparing it for the unknown challenges of the future.”

As the 15th director of the Hospital Corps, FORCM Smith represented more than 26,000 Hospital Corpsmen, ensuring they received the proper training to provide Sailors, Marines and families around the globe the best care our nation can offer.

“To all the corpsmen out there, you have something great, you have every opportunity to succeed,” said Smith. “You are integral to the Navy Medicine mission, I have traveled the world and seen the best Hospital Corpsmen out there, hands down.”

Roberts assumed the role as the enlisted leader of Navy Medicine and director of the Hospital Corps following the ceremonial “passing of the cutlass”.

Roberts is now serving as the 16th Navy Medicine force master chief. He previously served as the Command Master Chief at I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Navy Medicine consists of highly trained, professional people, who operate from well designed platforms, using high performance techniques to provide medical power to support naval superiority world-wide.





Date Taken: 10.02.2020
Date Posted: 10.02.2020 14:28
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Kansas health chief predicts bigger COVID-19 spikes to come

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top public health official in Kansas said Wednesday that the state has yet to see its biggest wave of coronavirus cases, suggesting the pandemic could spawn an average of 800 or even 900 new cases a day in coming months.

Dr. Lee Norman, the head of the state Department of Health and Environment, said Kansas is likely to surpass the record numbers of new confirmed and probable cases it has recently seen. The state had an average of 646 new cases a day for the seven days ending Wednesday, second only to the 667 cases per day for the seven days ending Monday.

While the state’s most populous counties have continued to generate hundreds of new cases every week, rural areas also have been seeing spikes. And health department data released Wednesday showed that outbreaks have returned to the state’s prison system.

The health department said Kansas saw 1,120 new confirmed and probable cases since Monday, an increase of 1.9%, bringing the total to 59,729. Norman said he thinks the state will see cases level off at the current daily increases, then “take off” for a “second wave.”


Norman said the likelihood of larger numbers demonstrates the need for continued “vigilance” in wearing masks and social distancing. He said efforts in March and April that included a statewide stay-at-home order and the closing of K-12 schools, cut down on the numbers of new cases but, “we would prefer not to go down that road again.”

“We have a long ways to go,” Norman said during a Statehouse news conference. “That really brings up, focuses on, why we need a vaccine.”

The number of coronavirus cases is thought to be higher because people can be infected without feeling ill and because of limited testing early in the pandemic. Norman said he believes Kansas is “close” to having its actual number of cases represent 3% to 5% of its population — from 87,000 to 145,000 cases.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.

In Kansas, COVID-19-related deaths continue to represent about 1.1% of the number of reported cases.

The state health department reported 41 new COVID-19-related deaths since Monday, bringing the total to 678. However, the department said 21 of those occurred earlier this year and were reported after officials examined death certificates.

The health department also reported that there are active clusters of five or more cases in four prisons and an inmate work-release program in Wichita. They account for 244 cases within the past 14 days.

The health department said the prison in Hutchinson has had 85 active cases in the past two weeks and the state’s prison mental health center in Larned has had 79.

The state saw a massive outbreak at its prison in Lansing earlier this

U.N. chief: time for national plans to help fund global COVID-19 vaccine effort

NEW YORK/GENEVA (Reuters) – U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday it is time for countries to start using money from their national COVID-19 response to help fund a global vaccine plan as the World Bank warned that “broad, rapid and affordable access” to those doses will be at the core of a resilient global economic recovery.

FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its COVAX facility – led by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance – has received $3 billion, but needs another $35 billion. It aims to deliver 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021, 245 million treatments and 500 million tests.

At a high-level virtual U.N. event on the program, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the financing gap was less than 1% of what the world’s 20 largest economies (G20) had committed to domestic stimulus packages and “it’s roughly equivalent to what the world spends on cigarettes every two weeks.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged $100 million to GAVI to help poorer countries gain access to a vaccine and Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N Chief Executive Alex Gorsky committed 500 million vaccine doses for low-income countries with delivery starting in mid-2021.

“Having access to lifesaving COVID diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines … shouldn’t depend on where you live, whether you’re rich or poor,” said Gorsky, adding that while Johnson & Johnson is “acting at an unprecedented scale and speed, but we are not for a minute cutting corners on safety.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has said that a vaccine against the virus might be ready before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, raising questions about whether political pressure might result in the deployment of a vaccine before it is safe.

“We remain 100 percent committed to high ethical and scientific principles,” Gorsky said.

GAVI Chief Executive Seth Berkley said that so far 168 countries, including 76 self-financing states, have joined the COVAX global vaccines facility. Tedros said this represented 70% of the world’s population, adding: “The list is growing every day.”

China, Russia and the United States have not joined the facility, although WHO officials have said they are still holding talks with China about signing up. The United States has reached its own deals with vaccine developers.

‘LONG HAUL’

World Bank President David Malpass said the pandemic could push 150 million people into extreme poverty by 2021 and the “negative impact on human capital will be deep and may last decades.”

“Broad, rapid and affordable access to COVID vaccines will be at the core of a resilient global economic recovery that lifts everyone,” he said.

Guterres said that the ACT-Accelerator was the only safe and certain way to reopen the global economy quickly.

But he warned that the program needed an immediate injection of $15 billion

UN chief cites pandemic’s ‘unprecedent toll’

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says the COVID-19 pandemic has taken “an unprecedent toll” especially on the economies of many developing countries and the world has not responded with “the massive and urgent support those countries and communities need.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that in the United States, Canada, Europe and most of the developed world, governments have adopted packages valued in double-digits of GDP to help tackle the coronavirus crisis and its impact.

“The problem is to mobilize the resources to allow the developing countries to be able to do the same,” he told a joint press conference Tuesday with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who have been jointly spearheading high-level meetings to try to raise the resources.

Guterres urged the international community to increase resources to the International Monetary Fund, including through a new allocation of special drawing rights and a voluntary reallocation of existing special drawing rights. He said many countries urgently need debt relief and called for the current debt suspensions to be extended and expanded to all developing and middle-income countries that need help. The private sector, including credit-rating agencies, also “must be engaged in relief efforts,” he said.

The U.N. chief said he is encouraged to see over 40 world leaders and the heads of the IMF, World Bank, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the African Union “coming together around these bold policies.”

He urged the international community to provide $35 billion — including $15 billion immediately — to fund “the ACT-Accelerator to ensure equitable access to diagnostics, treatments and vaccines” for all countries.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

— New York City officials to start issuing fines to people who refuse to wear masks in areas with spikes in the novel coronavirus

— llinois Gov. Pritzker to quarantine 2 weeks after contact with staffer who tested positive

— India vice president tests positive for virus, isolating at home

— How can I volunteer for a COVID-19 vaccine study?

— The coronavirus is infecting a rising number of American children and teens in a trend authorities say appears driven by school re-openings, resumption of sports and play dates.

— University of Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins apologized for not wearing a mask after pictures surfaced online of him shaking hands and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with people at a recent Rose Garden ceremony.

— Tennessee Titans players, staff test positive for coronavirus; first outbreak in the NFL at Week 4.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

RALEIGH, N.C. — The University of North Carolina system reported its first coronavirus-related student death on Tuesday since several campuses reopened with at least partial in-person learning last month.

Chad Dorrill, a 19-year student at Appalachian State University who lived off campus in Boone and took all of his classes online, died on Monday due to coronavirus complications, officials said.

“Any