Economic Security in a Pandemic Response
Around the world, the negative economic impact of the pandemic is being felt across global markets. Countries are introducing social-distancing measures designed to flatten the curve and help to slow the spread of COVID-19. Yet, such measures, which can include limiting travel and cancelling public gatherings, can have unintended consequences – in this case creating unwanted, yet unavoidable, economic declines. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is just beginning to be felt, and it may be months before we are able to quantify its full extent. Reviews of U.S. gross domestic product, unemployment and the consumer price index, for example, suggest that while the country will experience an economic down-turn, a recession could be avoided. The same may not hold for the other 117 countries managing COVID-19 epidemics. In response, the World Bank Group is making available an initial $12 billion package to assist countries responding to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and is continuing to monitor the situation.
Rabin Martin, as the Secretariat for the Private Sector Roundtable for Global Health Security (PSRT), is hosting a series of calls on the latest health and economic impacts of COVID-19. PSRT member companies and the Secretariat at Rabin Martin are working in earnest to connect the private sector with other key global actors to exchange information, compare experiences and interventions and meet needs in the COVID-19 response. Next week’s call will feature Dr. Patrick Osewe, Chief of the Asian Development Bank’s Health Sector Group, to discuss the crippling impact of COVID-19 on Asia’s travel industry. To join the call and learn more about the PSRT, please contact us here.
Recent Global Developments
COVID-19 Global Cases (World Health Organization)
Epidemic spread: On Wednesday, March 11 WHO declared that the spread of COVID-19 should be characterized as a pandemic. Said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death…We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic.”
As of Thursday, March 12 at 10am CET, WHO reported 125,048 confirmed cases and 4,613 deaths attributed to COVID-19. The virus has infected people in at least 118 countries, with the highest density of cases remaining in China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. Of those countries, only China and South Korea have begun to control the virus and are seeing a decline in new cases. For the latest epidemiological statistics, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University is tracking new COVID-19 infections in real-time.
Therapeutics acceleration: On Tuesday, March 10 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and Mastercard launched the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to propel the development and evaluation of treatments for COVID-19. Promising up to $125 million in seed funding, the Accelerator will provide fast and flexible funding to catalyze research of new and re-purposed therapeutics. The Accelerator will bring together expertise from WHO, government, the private sector and non-profit organizations to support the global response to COVID-19.
Other philanthropic initiatives: Extensive and rapid testing has been integral to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in nations such as South Korea and China, yet the U.S. has struggled to introduce mass testing. In response, philanthropic and private sector actors are stepping in to increase U.S. testing capabilities. On Tuesday, March 10 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan announced their intentions to quadruple testing and diagnostic capacity within the University of California San Francisco system through funding the acquisition of state-of-the-art diagnostic machinery. As of Wednesday, March 11, Amazon is in discussions to support the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s initiative to deliver home test kits to Seattle residents who have COVID-19 symptoms.
Global testing rates as of March 10, 2020
Notable Industry Developments
Hologic is partnering with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to accelerate development of a high-throughput diagnostic test for COVID-19. BARDA and Hologic expect to complete development within a matter of weeks before releasing the test via an emergency use authorization.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced it is accelerating its timeline for developing a DNA vaccine with a grant from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Inovio has prepared 3,000 doses and plans to begin human clinical trials in the U.S. in April, starting trials in China and South Korea soon after.
Sanofi Pasteur and Regeneron are preparing to begin clinical trials to explore whether their rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara could be effective in treating symptoms of COVID-19. Sanofi and Regeneron aim to launch trials within the next couple of weeks.
Multiple individuals with COVID-19 in Washington state have been treated with Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir through the Federal Drug Administration’s compassionate use program. Results from official trials involving 1,000 patients are expected in May.
From the Experts
“We are going to see more cases of coronavirus in this country. But we’ve been here before: H1N1, MERS, SARS. We know the playbook. We know what to do.”
– Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States
Thursday, March 5
“I’m so glad that [The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] invested in CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), which is funding aggressive efforts in vaccines. I’m really grateful once again for multinational pharmaceutical companies who are racing to look at vaccines, antibodies, and therapeutics.”
– Susan Desmond-Hellman, former CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Friday, March 6
“What we do know is that the outbreak arrived at a weak point for the world economy, when global growth was beginning to pick up from its lowest rate since the 2009 financial crisis. It is imperative, therefore, that policymakers everywhere recognize how economic harm can be transmitted from one country to another—and to act quickly to prevent its spread.”
– Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Vice President, World Bank Group
Monday, March 9
“The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large clusters or community transmission is not whether they can do the same [suppress and control the virus] – it’s whether they will. “
– Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General
Wednesday, March 11
“I can say we will see more cases, and things will get worse than they are right now. How much worse we’ll get will depend on our ability to do two things: to contain the influx of people who are infected coming from the outside, and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country.”
– Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director
Wednesday, March 11
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About Rabin Martin
Rabin Martin is a global health strategy firm working at the intersection of private sector capabilities and unmet public health needs. Rooted in our mission to improve health for underserved populations, we design strategies, programs and partnerships that both deliver public health impact and drive business results. We leverage our deep knowledge and networks across a wide range of geographies and health areas to develop tailored solutions for every client engagement. We have helped many clients create bold global health initiatives and innovative multi-sector partnerships. Our specific areas of expertise include infectious disease and vaccines, non-communicable diseases, rare diseases, maternal and child health, and universal health coverage. Our clients and partners include multinational health care companies, multilateral institutions, government agencies, large foundations and leading NGOs. Rabin Martin is part of the Omnicom Public Relations Group.
About Omnicom Public Relations Group
Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and eight specialist agencies in public affairs, marketing to women, fashion, global health strategy and corporate social responsibility. It encompasses more than 6,000 public relations professionals in more than 330 offices worldwide who provide their expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and nonprofits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. that includes more than 200 companies in a wide range of marketing disciplines including advertising, public relations, healthcare, customer relationship management, events, promotional marketing, branding and research.