Delhi, India.

COVID-19 in India: Lockdown, Legal Challenges, and Disparate Impacts

By Anand Grover

With only four hours’ notice, the Government of India imposed a nationwide lockdown to combat COVID-19, which began on March 24th, 2020 and is scheduled to end on May 17th, 2020.

The lockdown was implemented through executive orders, beginning March 24th, 2020, together with guidelines under the Disaster Management Act (DMA).

Only essential services, such as those related to security, government, food, medical supplies, and municipal cleaning, were permitted to continue operations, albeit sometimes in a curtailed manner. Inter-state and district borders were sealed. All persons, except those engaged in essential services, were mandated to stay at home and observe social distancing. Testing, quarantine and contact tracing were employed to detect and prevent further transmission of the virus. Breach of orders was criminally punishable.

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Monthly Round-Up of What to Read on Pharma Law and Policy

By Ameet SarpatwariCharlie LeeFrazer Tessema, and Aaron S. Kesselheim

Each month, members of the Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL) review the peer-reviewed medical literature to identify interesting empirical studies, policy analyses, and editorials on pharmaceutical law and policy.

Below are the abstracts/summaries for papers identified from the month of April. The selections feature topics ranging from increases in Internet searches for hydroxychloroquine following promotional remarks by the President, to an evaluation of health gains from orphan drugs, to an assessment of clinical trials supporting new FDA drug approvals. A full posting of abstracts/summaries of these articles can be found on our website.

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Santiago, Chile.

The Novel Coronavirus and Civil Rights: A Snapshot from Chile

By Lidia Casas Becerra

On March 18th, the Chilean government resolved, via an executive order, a state of constitutional catastrophe or calamity in response to the novel Coronavirus. Article 32, No. 5 of Chile’s constitution establishes the possibility to suspend certain civil rights based on exceptional circumstances.

Declaring a state of calamity allows the government to adopt a series of measures in the context of the pandemic which include, inter alia, restrictions to freedom of movement and freedom of assembly. The state of exception can last for up to 90 days and could be extended.

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Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki, Finland.

Restrictions in the Name of Health During COVID-19 in Finland

By Kaisa-Maria Kimmel and Rosa Maria Ballardini

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Finland began enacting national containment measures on March 16, 2020, after declaring a national state of emergency.

These containment measures are necessary for protecting the right to life and health of many, but entail restrictions on some fundamental rights of people residing in Finland. It is therefore important to take a critical look at these measures from a legal and social perspective. Here, we discuss whether and to what extent such legislative measures have been backed up by existing laws, which regulatory vehicles have been used, as well as  public responses to the measures in Finland.

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Sydney, Australia.

COVID-19 in Australia: Protecting Public Health by Restricting Rights & Risking the Rule of Law

By Paul Harpur

Introduction

COVID-19 entered Australia via airports and cruise liners. Though Australia has not had the hospital overload and deaths experienced in other countries (as of May 13th, 2020, there have been 6,975 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and 98 deaths), the specter of Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, combined with the World Health Organization’s declaration of a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, stimulated significant state action across the country.

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Health care workers in personal protective equipment attend to a patient.

How Much Help Do Health Care Systems Need to Survive Coronavirus?

By Michael Simkovic and Laleh Jalilian

Coronavirus has caused health care institutions’ precariously balanced finances to deteriorate by requiring the suspension of elective procedures in order to mitigate the spread of disease.

One of us has previously noted that less than 8% of the CARES Act stimulus package may reach the health care system, although there are options available to state governments and the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to increase this amount. How much additional funding would it actually take to enable the health care system to continue functioning at close to normal capacity?

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Brazil.

COVID-19 in Brazil: Institutional Meltdown in the Middle of a Pandemic

By Octávio Luiz Motta Ferraz

There has been no doubt fierce disagreement across the world’s democracies on how to fight the pandemic, i.e.: on how to protect public health while respecting civil liberties; on how to minimize the damage to jobs and businesses; on how strictly to enforce public health measures. Yet nowhere has a democratic country witnessed such frontal and public quarrel within its own government as in Brazil.

Not even in the U.S. have things  gone that far in the delicate relationship between Trump and Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). No other country seems to have had as many challenges in the courts related to the response to the crisis, either.

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Stockholm, Sweden.

Sweden’s Response to COVID-19: A Tale of Trust, Recommendations, and Odorous Nudges

By Behrang Kianzad and Timo Minssen

Introduction

The Swedish response to the Corona-crisis has been relatively moderate compared to most other countries.

Sweden did not opt for a total lockdown, did not close elementary schools, day cares, bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and other places of business. Public gatherings of up to 50 people are still allowed until further notice. Sweden’s intra EU borders remain open — in contrast to its neighbors Denmark, Finland and Norway — although the government has extended the  temporary entry ban to the EU via Sweden through May 15th.

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Forbidden City, Beijing, China.

Legal Tools Used in China in the COVID-19 Emergency

By Wang Chenguang

The Essential Role of Law in Containing the New Coronavirus

The stark truth in the COVID-19 emergency is the lack of effective drugs, therapies, and a vaccine at the moment and in the near future. Therefore the most effective way of containing the new coronavirus is still the traditional response of cutting off the channels of its human-to-human transmission. Realizing this fact, China has used, from the beginning, measures of social distancing, wearing face masks in public, quarantine and staying home to meet the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19. All of these measures are means to adapt normal human behaviors to an emergency situation. To do so, law — the most effective set of norms used to regulate people’s behavior — is logically utilized to stop the spread of the virus. This idea is clearly expressed by the Chinese government’s policy of legal, scientific and orderly containment of the disease.

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