IFPMA Press Review – 30 June 2020


‘Not even close to being over’: WHO chief urges testing and isolation of Covid-19 cases (UN | The Guardian)

Nearly six months after the new coronavirus first emerged, the COVID-19 pandemic is “not even close to being over”, said Dr Tedros, the head of the WHO. The WHO plans to convene a meeting this week to assess progress in research towards fighting the disease, Tedros said. The head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, Mike Ryan, told the briefing that tremendous progress had been made towards finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection, but there was still no guarantee the effort would succeed. 

Fighting COVID-19 Pandemic Requires Unity, Fully Funded ‘People’s Vaccine’, Secretary-General Says in Message to Global Campaign (UN)

In a video message for the Global Goal: Unite for Our Future Campaign, António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is the quintessential global challenge affecting every corner of the globe. We need the WHO, global unity and partnerships, like the one between the European Commission and Global Citizen, to ensure that new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and a people’s vaccine are safe, effective and affordable. Most importantly, they need to be fully funded and immediately accessible to all. No one is safe until everyone is safe.

COVID-19 Vaccines

WHO ACT-Accelerator prioritizes global vaccine approach (Raps)

According to Andrew Witty, the WHO Director-General Special Envoy for the ACT Accelerator, the diversified portfolio of vaccines research increases the chances of finding success on a practical as well as a scientific level. When it comes to development and distribution of vaccines and therapeutics, WHO plans to use an “all-countries approach,” said Mariangela Simao, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals. WHO expects to have an allocation mechanism to share with the public by the end of August.

Drug Shortage Threat From Second COVID-19 Wave (Pink Sheet Paywall)

The second wave of COVID-19 infection later this year would put even greater pressure on drugs used in patients hospitalized with serious respiratory problems, a new report warns. In the report obtained by ABC News, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warns of national and global strains on drug supply chains in the near future.  

COVID-19 Therapeutics

Biotech company to charge governments $2,340 for Covid-19 treatment remdesivir (FT Paywall)

Gilead Sciences has said government healthcare programs in developed countries would be charged a flat fee of $390 per vial for the drug. A five-day course uses six vials, costing governments $2,340. Private insurers in the US would be charged a higher rate of $520 per vial, bringing the cost for a typical patient with commercial insurance to $3,120. Gilead said it had priced the drug “well below” what is considered to be the value of the benefits it provides.

Global Health

New strain fears as fresh Ebola outbreak emerges (Sci Dev Net)

The WHO declared the end of the Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC but warned that new flare-ups of that strain could still emerge. With another Ebola strain now circulating in the northwest of the country, there is mounting concern that if the 2 strains combine they could form a new, even more, dangerous Ebola strain. As of June 20, there have been 23 cases and 13 deaths from the new northwestern strain.

Flu virus with ‘pandemic potential’ found in China (BBC)

A new strain of flu that has the potential to become a pandemic has been identified in China by scientists. The G4 EA H1N1 shares many similarities with the 2009 swine flu (A/H1N1pdm09) which is today included in routine vaccinations. However, there are key and worrisome differences, among these, the novel virus’ immunity to currently available vaccines. Researchers warn to keep an eye on this potential new threat to global health.

New agreements to lower prices and increase access to lifesaving cancer treatment in sub-Saharan Africa (Clinton Health Access Initiative)

A new agreement between the American Cancer Society, the Clinton Health Access Initiative and pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Novartis, and Mylan was announced. The agreement aims at expanding access to 20 lifesaving cancer treatments in 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The medications covered include the recommended regimens for 27 types of cancer and enable complete chemotherapy regimens for the three cancers that cause the most deaths in Africa—breast, cervical, and prostate. It is estimated that the agreement will help purchasers save an average of 59% on the price of procured medicines.

8th TRIAD Meeting: Statement (WHO | WHO-Triad Statement)

The International Council of Nurses, International Confederation of Midwives, and the WHO gathered virtually for the 8th ICN-ICM-WHO “Triad Meeting” on 16-18 June 2020. The participants, within their respective roles, committed to supporting the WHO Member States in the development and implementation of a set of ten action items. This includes leveraging the data, evidence and future directions in the State of the world’s nursing 2020 report to outline a forward-facing roadmap for policy dialogue and evidence-informed investment in countries. 

Global Health and the Future We Want — A UN 75 Consultation (UN Dispatch)

In this podcast, Kate Dodson, Vice President for Global Health at the United Nations Foundation, discusses the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically how the WHO and other UN entities are responding. She also discusses what reforms might make the WHO more effective at responding to future global health emergencies. Mark Leon Goldberg, the Executive Editor of UN Dispatch, also moderates a consultation about global health, as part of the United Nations Association’s global consultations being conducted ahead of its 75th anniversary.

Opinion: What’s expected of an independent review of WHO? (New Times)

WHO’s 194-member states unanimously approved a resolution during last month’s World Health Assembly to set up an independent review into the global response of the WHO to the coronavirus pandemic. Fred Nkusi, a law expert, says that the findings of the review are crucial for the global community going forward to put forward actionable recommendations for the prevention of another pandemic in the future.


Study shows antibiotic resistance genes persist in E. coli through “genetic capitalism” (EurekAlert!)

A new study by analyzing genomes of E. coli found that “stabilizing selection” is no longer the evolutionary rule for antibiotic resistance genes. In other words, industrial use of antibiotics may be causing changes to the Evolutionary Theory. Stabilizing selection is the process of AMR-genes disappearing when they are no longer required for survival. The study also shows that massive human interference is causing the advent of a widespread hoarding of genes, similar to a capitalist cumulation approach, that confers bacteria antibiotic resistance that was unlikely they would have developed under normal evolutionary pressure.


US withdrawal from WHO threatens to leave it ‘flying blind’ on flu vaccines (STAT)

Twice a year, influenza experts from 10 institutions around the world meet at the WHO headquarters to make decisions that affect people around the world: namely, which variants of the flu virus should be used for vaccinations the following season. Currently, the flu strain selection group includes three seats for institutions from the US, which uses more flu vaccines than any other country in the world. It is unclear how the U.S. officials might try to preserve its role in the process, or whether it could. According to Nancy Cox, an ex-CDC employee, without access to the intelligence coming from other institutions at the table, the U.S. would be “flying blind”.

Cambodia: Responding to a measles outbreak during the COVID-19 pandemic (WHO)

From 1 January to 4 May 2020, Cambodia recorded 341 measles cases, 65% of those affected had not been vaccinated. Along with measles and the Covid-19 pandemic, Cambodia is in the midst of rubella and pertussis outbreaks. Dr Li Ailan, WHO Representative to Cambodia, warned of the risk of increased vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, especially an uncontrollable measles outbreak if routine immunization services are not maintained during the pandemic.

Afghanistan: How the polio programme is supporting Routine Immunization during COVID-19 (GPEI)

In March, polio social mobilisers (PSM) from the UNICEF-run Immunization Communication Network (ICN) provided routine immunization referral services to over 37,000 children in southern and eastern Afghanistan. PSMs, who are recruited from their own community, support mother and child health referral services and help families in their neighborhood keep track of their children’s health records. After the ICN support to routine immunization, PSMs claim that the number of missed children has reduced due to tracking of every child in the community.

Malaria & TB

Zimbabwe On Track to Achieve the 2020 Global End TB Strategy Milestones (WHO Africa)

2019 WHO Global TB report reveals that Zimbabwe is making progress to End TB. Zimbabwe managed to achieve very high rates of TB treatment coverage and is one of the four high burden TB countries that managed to achieve rates above 80% reaching 25,775 people notified. In that report, Zimbabwe was also noted to be one of the seven high burden countries that are on track to achieve the 2020 Global End TB Strategy milestones for a reduction in TB incidence rate and TB deaths. 


Collaborating to end Neglected Tropical Diseases: Catalyzing Innovation and Partnerships (IFPMA Report | IFPMA Infographics)

A new report examines the multifaceted support of the biopharmaceutical industry in the fight to NTDs, highlighting the need for inclusive partnerships and collaborations. Indeed, interventions in NTDs represent some of the largest public health interventions globally, and the innovative biopharmaceutical industry has always been an active partner throughout. The industry’s extensive support varies widely in form, including R&D activities complemented by medicine donations and programs to strengthen health system capacities and improve public awareness on disease prevention. Success in achieving the 2030 SDGs will depend on our ability to boost innovation, strengthening health systems and scaling up access to existing treatments.

Will the Convention on Biodiversity hinder the sharing of the genetic codes of pathogens – like coronavirus? (The Guardian)

As time is at the essence of global health response to a devastating pandemic, many question the unintended delays and obstacles that the Nagoya Convention casts on access to, and use of crucial information. Indeed, “while the scientific community agrees with the protocol’s objective to protect biodiversity, where they feel it has gone too far is in the inclusion of pathogens”. Given the importance of sharing pathogens when responding to potential epidemics and pandemics, IFPMA experts believe that excluding them from ABS obligations altogether is the safest and most pragmatic solution.

IFPMA Code of Practice eLearning(IFPMA Video | IFPMA)

IFPMA has updated its Code of Practice, together with the IFPMA Ethos, and promotes a culture grounded on values and principles and decisions based on good judgement. The IFPMA Code of Practice eLearning tool aims to support IFPMA members in understanding these changes and putting them into practice. The eLearning tool covers a range of topics from clinical research and transparency, professional interactions between healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies, support for medical education, and so much more.


Today, 30 June | Virtual Meeting
Virtual Roundtable on Scaling up Access to Antiretroviral Therapy 

In this roundtable leading up to the 23rd International AIDS Conference, Medicines Patent Pool brings together some of the key players in the area. The panel, moderated by MPP’s Board Chair Marie-Paule Kieny, will discuss how the MPP model has changed the HIV landscape, and reflect on how the lessons learned can be applied to the fight against COVID-19.

6 – 10 July | Virtual Meeting
International AIDS Conference
 (AIDS 2020)

The 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020) offers an opportunity to unite to face the challenges of a deteriorating human rights climate, repressive and punitive national laws in many countries across the globe, increasing xenophobia and social exclusion, and the widening gap between those with and without access to health services.

7 – 23 July | Virtual Meeting
The Fifth Annual Health Financing Forum 
(World BankNew

The theme of the Part I Annual Health Financing Forum is “Building resilience and sustainable health financing during COVID-19”, and it will discuss the lessons learned from national and global responses. The Forum will take a deeper look at health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the theme of health financing resilience and sustainability.

10 July | Virtual Meeting
2020 Clinical antibacterial pipeline advisory group pre-meeting 

Under the framework of the implementation of the Global Action Plan on AMR, WHO undertakes an annual quantitative and qualitative analysis of the clinical development pipeline of antibacterial treatments that target the WHO priority pathogens, TB and Clostridium difficile. The role of the advisory group is to validate data gathered on the pipeline and to support WHO in the qualitative analysis. This virtual pre-meeting will inform the update of the 2020 clinical antibacterial pipeline analysis.

13 July |Virtual Meeting
NCDs & COVID-19: Learning lessons, building back better for the future
 (NCD Alliance)

The NCD Alliance, the WHO and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will host the virtual event. This event will convene global thought leaders to explore, position and inform the collision of NCDs and COVID-19 to demonstrate the need to prioritize NCDs in policy responses to health emergencies and humanitarian responses.