On Tuesday, September 15, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization (WHO), commented that a return to “pre-COVID normal life” will not happen in the next year. “We’re looking at 2022 at least before enough people start getting the vaccine to build immunity,” said Dr. Swaminathan. “So for a long time to come, we have to maintain the same kind of measures that are currently being put in place.”
Social distancing, wearing masks, quarantining, and other protections will need to be enforced until future vaccines reach sufficient coverage to achieve herd immunity (60-70 percent of the population). The number of vaccine doses needed globally is still unknown, but estimates are likely to increase given questions about how long immunity will last.
Dr. Swaminathan added that controlling, rather than eliminating, the novel coronavirus is the priority at this point; vaccines will be a critical tool to achieve this goal. As companies work at unprecedented speed to bring safe and effective vaccines to market, the need to protect those most affected by the pandemic is paramount. With communities of color, particularly in the U.S., bearing a disproportionate burden of infections and deaths, vaccine trials are striving to reflect the racial and ethnic breakdown of the population, at a minimum.
This week’s edition of Rabin Martin’s COVID-19 Briefing focuses on the need for greater diversity in clinical trials. How can we ensure that communities of color participate at higher rates when recruitment remains a challenge across the board? Will diversity in R&D translate to equitable distribution of a vaccine? Please find our earlier COVID-19 Briefings here.
The U.S. accounts for over 20 percent of global cases, reporting 6,649,458 cases and 197,244 deaths.
On Sunday, September 13, WHO reported the highest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases: 307,930. Once again, India, the U.S., and Brazil reported the greatest number of new infections. This week, India became the second country (after the U.S.) to pass the grim milestone of five million cases. Infections have been increasing exponentially, and India is expected to overtake the U.S. as the country with the largest epidemic. Meanwhile, confirmed cases across the African continent surpassed 1.35 million on Tuesday, September 15.
WHO warned that Europe will see a surge in COVID-19 related deaths in the coming months, stemming from vast increases in new infections over the past weeks. Current infection rates are returning to levels last seen during the height of the pandemic in March and April. Epidemic control in Europe has been stymied by various logistical and supply chain challenges: in the U.K., despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ambitious plan to test 10 million people a day, labs are reporting backlogs and delays in COVID-19 testing.
Global COVID-19 Cases (Johns Hopkins University)
Wayne Frederick, Valerie Montgomery Rice, David Carlisle, and James Hildreth,
The New York Times
In the U.S., there have been increasing calls to ensure that Black and Latino communities are included in clinical trials for new vaccines and treatments. The genetic makeup of a population can influence the effectiveness of therapeutics, which has particular importance for vaccines that work by altering the immune system. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has advocated for COVID-19 vaccine trials to “match the burden of the disease,” ensuring at least representative enrollment of those most affected by COVID-19.
As of early September, Moderna reported that over a quarter of study participants for its vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, were from communities of color – above the 5 percent average participation rate for most studies. On Saturday, September 12, Pfizer and BioNTech announced they had submitted a proposal to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand Phase 3 clinical trials of their vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, to include 44,000 participants, with a focus on enrolling people from diverse populations. The new target would allow the companies “to further increase trial population diversity,” including adolescents as young as 16 and people with HIV, Hepatitis C, or Hepatitis B.
Rabin Martin at UNGA
September 30, 9:00 am ET
On the occasion of the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), please join us for a conversation with Dr. Heidi Larson, Director, The Vaccine Confidence Project, and Dr. Peter Piot, Director, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rabin Martin CEO Dr. Jeffrey L. Sturchio will moderate the discussion on lessons learned from the past eight months and predictions on what lies ahead – addressing issues such as equity in care and treatment and the impact of misinformation on vaccine confidence. Please register here.
The Data Pandemic: Making Decisions with Too Much, Not Enough, and Politicized Data: September 21, 8:00 am ET
Please join The Rockefeller Foundation-Boston University Commission on Health Determinants, Data, and Decision-making (3-D Commission) for a virtual event to mark the 75th session of the UNGA. The event will explore how decisionmakers can use data to more effectively make tough choices during health crises, in an effort to keep people safe and healthy. Speakers will include Dr. Samira Asma, Assistant Director-General for Data, Analytics, and Delivery, WHO; Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean, Boston University School of Public Health; Dr. Naveen Rao, Senior Vice President, The Rockefeller Foundation; Ms. Katie Dain, CEO, NCD Alliance; and more. Rabin Martin is the Secretariat for the 3-D Commission. Please register here.
The Private Sector’s Evolving Role in Health Emergencies:
September 24, 9:00 am ET
The Private Sector Roundtable for Global Health Security (PSRT) and Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will host a UNGA side event to explore the evolving role – and responsibility – of the private sector in preventing and responding to global health threats. The session will feature a keynote address by Peter Sands, Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and remarks by Shannon Hader, Deputy Director, UNAIDS. Jeff Sturchio will moderate a panel of leaders from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AstraZeneca, Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, and the Nursing Now Global Campaign. Viacom/CBS is hosting this virtual event. Rabin Martin is the Secretariat for the PSRT. RSVP here.
From the Experts
“[Global health progress has] been set back about 25 years in about 25 weeks.”
2020 Goalkeepers Report, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
“If [the vaccine] is used only in rich countries then [the virus] will continue to spread in poorer countries … and then it gets reintroduced to people in richer countries.”
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Co-Chair, Global Preparedness Monitoring Board
Monday, September 14
“We must take heed of the consequences of not having robust and sustainably financed global preparedness plans – both to end this pandemic and to be better equipped to deal with inevitable future crises.”
Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome Trust
Monday, September 14
“In recent years we have seen a recurring pattern. The world throws money at an outbreak, then does little to prevent the next one… We have to work together, plan for the long term, and realize that spending on health and preparedness is not charity, it’s an investment in our future.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO
Monday, September 14
“We will look back on this time and the hundreds of thousands of deaths we could have avoided with sorrow, anger, and disbelief.”
Dr. Gregg Gonsalves, Co-Director, Global Health Justice Partnership; Yale University
Monday, September 14
“It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet.”
Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India
Monday, September 14
“The UN is weaker than it should be…We’ve just seen what a pandemic has done worldwide. Some of the richest countries are not coping well with it. When we look back, the criticism will be quite sharp.”
Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Tuesday, September 15
What We’re Reading
- As UN Turns 75, the Celebration Is Muted by Calamity and Conflict – Rick Gladstone, The New York Times
- A World in Disorder – Global Preparedness Monitoring Board
- We’re Numb to the Coronavirus – Neal Rothschild, Axios
- The Lessons We’ve Learned from the COVID-19 Response, According to Anthony Fauci – Pratibha Gopalakrishna, STAT News
- COVID-19 Herd Immunity: Where Are We? – Arnaud Fontanet and Simon Chauchemez, Nature
- 25 Years Wiped Out In 25 Weeks: Pandemic Sets the World Back Decades – Carmen Puan, POLITICO
- What COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories Mean for Vaccine Delivery – Lisa Cornish, Devex
Reports from International Governments and Bodies
- WHO COVID-19 Information and Guidance
- WHO Weekly Epidemiological Update: September 14
- WHO Weekly Operational Update: September 9
- CDC Coronavirus Resource Page
- COVID-19 Health Systems Response Monitor
- NCD Alliance COVID resources relevant to NCDs
Funding and Policy Trackers
- International Monetary Fund Policy Tracker
- Kaiser Family Foundation Coronavirus Policy Tracker
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Aid Tracker
- Devex Interactive Funding Tracker
Resource Pages and Market Research Literature
- JAMA Resource Center
- The Lancet COVID-19 Resource Centre
- 2019 Novel Coronavirus Research Compendium (NCRC)
- National Academy of Medicine COVID-19 News and Resources
- WIPO COVID-19 IP Policy Tracker
- The COVID Tracking Project
- PharmaIntelligence: Coronavirus – What will the Impact Be?
- Health Affairs Resource Center
- STAT News COVID-19 Tracker
- Global Health NOW’s COVID-19 Expert Reality Check
- International Association of National Public Health Institutes COVID-19 Resources
- Center for Strategic and International Studies The Reopening and Take as Directed Coronavirus Crisis Update Podcast
- Primary Health Care Performance Initiative Forum
- U.S. Global Leadership Coalition COVID-19 Issue Briefs
- Prevent Epidemics Weekly Science Review
- COVID-19 Watch Weekly Updates
For more information or should you have any questions, please contact us.
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.