EU signs deal with Gilead for coronavirus treatment remdesivir
The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has reportedly signed a deal with Gilead for its Covid-19 medicine remdesivir in an agreement that is set to cover 30,000 patients across the bloc from early next month.
“The Commission signed a contract with the pharmaceutical company Gilead for ensuring treatment doses of Veklury – the brand name for remdesivir,” Dana Spinant, a spokesperson for the European Commission, told a news briefing on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“As of early August onwards, batches of this medicine Veklury will be made available to member states and the U.K.,” she added.
The contract, which was reportedly worth 63 million euros ($73.9 million), will provide treatment for patients with severe Covid-19 symptoms, Spinant said. — Sam Meredith
Every province and city in Vietnam at high risk of infections, prime minister says
Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said every province and city in the country was at high risk of coronavirus infections, Reuters reported citing local state broadcaster VTV.
The leader’s remarks came after Vietnam reported its first case of local transmission in more than three months, according to the news agency. Though Vietnam shares a border with China, the country has recorded only 446 cases of infection and no deaths.
“We have to act more swiftly and more fiercely in order to control the outbreak,” VTV quoted the prime minister telling government officials at a meeting, Reuters said, adding that Danang, where new infections were reported last week, would be placed on “strict lockdown.” — Saheli Roy Choudhury
U.K. reaches supply deal with Sanofi and GSK for potential vaccine doses
The U.K. government reached an agreement with pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and Glaxosmithkline for a supply of up to 60 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine.
A vaccine candidate is being developed by the two companies. Clinical trials are expected to start in September and regulatory approval could be achieved by the first half of 2021 if the data are positive, Sanofi said in a statement on Wednesday.
More than 100 vaccine candidates are currently being developed, with 25 of them in clinical trials as of July 28, according to the World Health Organization.
The U.K. has also signed supply deals for other vaccine candidates that are being studied. That includes 100 million doses of University of Oxford’s potential vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca. — Saheli Roy Choudhury
Singapore’s jobless rate jumps in the quarter ending June
Provisional data showed Singapore’s jobless rate rose to a new decade high of 2.9% in the second quarter, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Retrenchments were much higher between April and June, with 6,700 people laid off, compared to 3,220 in the three months that ended in March, the news wire said.
With over 50,000 reported cases, Singapore went into a partial lockdown between April to May and started reopening its economy in phases from June. Most of the cases in the city-state were found in migrant worker dormitories. — Saheli Roy Choudhury
Hong Kong faces large-scale outbreak that may lead to a ‘collapse’ of its hospital system, Carrie Lam says
Passengers wear surgical masks in an MTR train, following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Hong Kong.
Tyrone Siu | Reuters
Hong Kong is facing a new wave of Covid-19 infections that can overwhelm the city’s health care system and cost lives, chief executive Carrie Lam has warned.
She urged people to stay at home as far as possible and follow strict social distancing measures. The city on Tuesday said it was investigating 106 additional cases of infection, bringing Hong Kong’s total number of confirmed cases to at least 2,884.
“We are on the verge of a large-scale community outbreak, which may lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially of the elderly,” Lam said in a statement.
New regulations aimed at curbing the disease’s spread are set to kick in from Wednesday. Those measures ban the gathering of more than two people, close dining in restaurants and make the wearing of face masks mandatory in public, Reuters reported. — Saheli Roy Choudhury
Trump still thinks hydroxychloroquine works on coronavirus
President Donald Trump said he still thinks hydroxychloroquine works against Covid-19, despite mounting evidence that the malaria drug is ineffective in treating the virus.
Trump was asked by a reporter about a video Trump shared on Twitter that went viral across social media platforms that claimed hydroxychloroquine is “a cure for Covid” and “you don’t need a mask” to slow the spread of coronavirus. The video was later labeled as containing misleading information and has since been taken down.
“I wasn’t making claims,” Trump said of his tweet, noting that he was passing along recommendations from other people, including doctors.
The drug generated excitement earlier in the year after a handful of small studies suggested it could be beneficial, especially when combined with antibiotic azithromycin. Trump promoted it as a potential treatment for the virus and said he used it as a preventive measure against the disease. However, several larger studies showed the drug was not helpful and caused heart issues in some patients. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
North Carolina to order curfew on restaurants selling alcohol, reports record hospitalizations
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced during a press conference that the state’s restaurants will be ordered to stop selling alcohol after 11 p.m. and the state’s bars will remain closed. The order takes effect on Friday, he said.
The order is intended to prevent “restaurants from turning into bars after hours” and the state is “hopeful” the new order will slow down the virus’ spread among young people, Cooper said.
The state reported an additional 1,749 Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total to more than 116,000, Cooper said at the press conference. There are at least 1,244 people hospitalized with Covid-19, the highest number of hospitalizations since the beginning of the state’s outbreak, he said.
“The numbers are still too high. In order to start a downward trend, we have to double down on actions that slow the spread of the virus. Other states have had to go backward when they saw sharp increases in their case numbers that overwhelmed their hospitals. Fortunately, we’ve avoided that,” he said. — Noah Higgins-Dunn
McConnell says he will not negotiate with Democrats on liability protections
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans are “not negotiating” with Democrats over legal immunity for businesses, doctors and schools during the coronavirus pandemic.
The GOP has pushed for liability protections except in cases of “gross” negligence or “intentional” harm as part of a developing congressional coronavirus relief bill. The provision could take away employees’ ability to seek damages if they return to an unsafe workplace as the pandemic spreads.
McConnell told CNBC’s Kayla Tausche that “no bill will pass the Senate that doesn’t have the liability protection in it.” Republicans and Democrats are working to pass a pandemic aid plan after states stopped paying out the $600 per week enhanced federal unemployment benefit that has been a lifeline for millions of Americans during the outbreak.
In a joint statement Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the liability provision shields “employers who do not protect workers’ health and safety, while offering no [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] protections to ensure workers can trust in safe workplaces.” —Jacob Pramuk
Expiration of $600 weekly unemployment benefit will hurt U.S. economy, says Tilman Fertitta
Tilman Fertitta, CEO of restaurant giant Landry’s, told CNBC that the U.S. economy will be hurt by the expiration of the $600 weekly federal unemployment supplement.
“You’re going to see this economy go backwards when we cut out this $600 a week,” he said on “Power Lunch.” He said the supplement has been a driver of consumer spending, which has in turn aided in the U.S. economic recovery from pandemic-related devastation.
Fertitta, also the owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, added that he does not believe the $600 per week has caused workers to refuse to return to the job. Some Republicans who support lowering the amount of the weekly supplement argue previous levels had been a disincentive for some people to return.
“We might have 20 or 30 people out of 50,000 that are taking advantage of us. Maybe 100,” Fertitta said. “But when you take this $600 out of these 25 million people’s hands, it is going to affect your economy.” – Kevin Stankiewicz
Chick-fil-A locations offer food for coins to combat national shortage caused by pandemic closures
Workers at a Chick-fil-A deliver meals to customers in their vehicles at the drive-up window after the restaurant closed its indoor seating in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on March 20, 2020 in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Two Chick-fil-A restaurants located in Huntsville, Alabama, and Lynchburg, Virginia, have offered specials providing free food in return for coin rolls.
The special offer requires bringing in $10 in any combination of rolled coins for $10 in bills and a card for free food, including a sandwich. There’s a limit of 10 trade-ins per customer.
The Huntsville location specified the voucher is good for a free chicken sandwich, while the Lynchburg location listed a grilled or fried sandwich or an order of chicken nuggets as options for the voucher.
Chick-fil-A said the promotions are location specific and not part of a national special offer. The locations both attributed the need for coins to a national coin shortage that the Federal Reserve has connected to coronavirus-related business closures. –Alex Harring
Repko Best Buy Thanksgiving 20200728
A near empty parking lot in front of a Best Buy store in Montebello, California on April 15, 2020 as the electronics nationwide chain store remains closed to customers but open for pickups.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Bargain shoppers may have to look online rather than in stores for discounted giant TVs, laptops and other electronics this Thanksgiving Day. Best Buy said its stores will be closed on the holiday, along with the stores of a growing number of retailers.
Instead of having crowds rush the doors after eating turkey, Best Buy said in a statement that it will start offering holiday deals earlier than in previous years. The company said it will focus on better and more convenient ways to fulfill online orders, which it already delivers to customers’ doors and through curbside pickup.
It’s yet another way retailers are adapting as the pandemic changes customers’ shopping habits and heightens safety concerns.
Restaurant transactions plateau as cases surge
Restaurant transactions across the U.S. have stagnated as coronavirus cases surge and many states close dining rooms for the second time.
The NPD Group tracks transactions at 75 restaurant chains that represent more than half of total U.S. commercial restaurant traffic. According to its data, the U.S. restaurant industry began reversing transaction declines in April and was inching closer to a return to year-ago transaction levels by mid-June. Then Covid-19 cases began surging again. —Amelia Lucas
Pfizer CEO says company is not cutting corners in vaccine development despite aggressive timeline
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC that the firm’s potential coronavirus would be safe and effective, even though the U.S. drugmaker is operating at an accelerated timeline to gain regulatory approval.
“We are going to cut zero corners,” Bourla said on “The Exchange.” “We are a 170-year-old company. We will never submit something that we don’t feel comfortable that is safe and effective.”
Bourla said Pfizer, which is jointly developing its vaccine with German biotech firm BioNTech, hopes to have data in October from a large trial that would allow the company to apply for final regulatory approval. The more effective the vaccine is, the sooner that data could become available, Bourla said.
Bourla said he understands concerns people may have about getting a vaccine on an accelerated timeline, but he stressed that regulators both in the U.S. and abroad have high standards that all companies will be following. —Kevin Stankiewicz
Gov. Cuomo invites MLB to play out season in New York state
Gov. Andrew Cuomo invited Major League Baseball teams to play the remainder of the shortened season in stadiums across New York state, where he said players are less likely to be infected.
The offer comes after the MLB postponed at least two games, including the Yankees game against the Phillies in Philadelphia, after more than a dozen Miami Marlins players and staff members tested positive for Covid-19. The outbreak among the single team has led some players and public health officials to question the league’s plans to resume the season.
White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed concern that the outbreak could put the season “in danger.” But Cuomo said moving to New York, where the virus is less prevalent after months of mitigation measures, could reduce the risk of a major incident.
“New York state could host any Major League Baseball games that any teams want to play and they could play those games in our stadiums,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters. “New York state has one of the lowest infection rates in the United States.” —Will Feuer
New York investigating Hamptons concert where The Chainsmokers, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon performed
“It wasn’t just a gross violation of public health rules. It was a gross violation of common sense,” Cuomo said during a press conference call. “We’re taking that very seriously.”
He added that the town of Southampton could face penalties for violating public health guidelines and the village leadership will be involved in the inquiry by the state’s Department of Health.
The concert, called Safe & Sound, was a drive-in charity event that included performances from The Chainsmokers. Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, who moonlights as D.J. D-Sol, opened the concert. —Jasmine Kim
Planet Fitness CEO says closing gyms is counterproductive to fighting pandemic
Chris Rondeau, CEO of Planet Fitness.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Rondeau said gyms are “part of the solution” to the pandemic, as exercise can help combat health conditions like obesity that have been linked to being harder hit when contracting the virus.
“If you think about it, gyms are really a part of the health care delivery system, and to shut us down is conterproductive,” Rondeau said.
He also said he expects renewed interest in exercise after the pandemic.
The fitness industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, often among the last businesses to reopen. But Rondeau said he expects customers to return to Planet Fitness, which currently has 1,450 out of 2,000 locations open, because of the value and variety of exercise options. –Alex Harring
Yankees-Phillies game postponed as fallout continues from Marlins outbreak
The New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies game originally set for Tuesday has been postponed as some Phillies players wait to hear back on Covid-19 test results, Reuters reports.
Over the weekend, the Phillies played against the Miami Marlins, who had several players test positive for coronavirus, according to Reuters.
Major League Baseball also postponed Monday’s scheduled game between the two clubs. The MLB season began July 23. –Suzanne Blake
Shoppers are still wary to return to malls, try on clothes and travel
Destiny USA mall reopens as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions are eased in Syracuse, New York, U.S.
Maranie Staab | Reuters
As retailers attempt to lure people back to stores, consumers don’t appear to be rushing to return. Many are still wary of venturing to malls and into fitting rooms, even as companies step up their safety precautions.
A July 10 poll of more than 1,200 people by First Insight found that 32% of people feel unsafe or very unsafe visiting shopping malls. That’s actually an uptick from the 29% of consumers surveyed on April 30, the retail predictive analytics company said. Meantime, 80% of women polled said they are uncomfortable trying on makeup and other beauty products in stores, 68% said they feel unsafe trying on clothes in dressing rooms, and 61% said they feel unsafe trying on shoes.
“Retail needs to be aware that while people are shopping and there is definitely pent-up demand, many consumers are still very much afraid to be in-store and to try products, or use dressing rooms,” First Insight CEO Greg Petro said.
Retail bankruptcies and permanent store closures continue to pile up in 2020. The back-to-school season is quickly approaching, with the countdown to the holidays kicking off shortly thereafter, and many parents still do not know how or when their kids will be returning to school. Analysts expect there will be more carnage in the industry before consumer behavior changes. —Lauren Thomas
Twitter limits Donald Trump Jr.’s posts after violating misinformation policy
Twitter is limiting access to Donald Trump Jr.’s account for 12 hours after he shared a video on the social media platform that violated the company’s Covid-19 misinformation policy.
Twitter said that Trump Jr. shared a viral video about Hydroxychloroquine being used to treat the coronavirus, which triggered its policy against “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19.”
The post has since been deleted.
Trump Jr. is still able to browse the app, but is unable to tweet, retweet, follow or like posts for a 12-hour period.
In a statement to CNBC, Andy Surabian, a spokesman for Trump Jr., echoed unproven complaints from conservatives that social media companies like Twitter try to silence conservatives on their respective platforms.
“Twitter suspending Don Jr. for sharing a viral video of medical professionals discussing their views on Hydroxychloroquine is further proof that Big Tech is intent on killing free expression online and is another instance of them committing election interference to stifle Republican voices,” Surabian said in the statement.
Twitter said it did not suspend Trump Jr.’s account, just limited his access to the platform. With the exception of the tweet that Twitter said violated its policies, the rest of Trump Jr.’s tweets remain visible on his page. —Jessica Bursztynsky
Pandemic pushes McDonald’s customers to change how they order
A customer receives an order from a worker in a protective mask at the drive-thru of a McDonald’s Corp. restaurant in Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Kyle Grillot | Bloomberg | Getty Images
McDonald’s customers are changing how they buy their Happy Meals and Big Macs.
Executives told analysts that drive-thru lanes accounted for a larger portion of sales during the quarter ended June 30. And markets with a higher percentage of drive-thru lanes saw their sales bounce back more quickly after lockdowns eased.
Consumers also turned to delivery. In Australia, delivery sales accounted for nearly 10% of the country’s quarterly orders. CEO Chris Kempczinski said he expects the trend of contactless ordering, as through delivery, its mobile app or drive-thru lanes, endure.
The chain said its second-quarter revenue fell 30%, sending shares down more than 2% in morning trading. —Amelia Lucas
Fauci says early signs outbreaks brewing in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC “Good Morning America” that there are early signs that a coronavirus outbreak could be brewing in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky. He said the positivity rate, or the percentage of tests run that are positive, appears to be rising in those states — an early indication that the outbreak is worsening.
“That’s a surefire sign that you’ve got to be really careful,” Fauci said during the interview.
Covid-19 cases were growing by more than 10% in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee as of Monday compared with a week ago, based on a seven-day average, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Kentucky and Ohio additionally reported a record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations Monday, based on a seven-day average, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project.
“This current group of states, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia tomorrow, are the next set of states where we have significant concerns about the rising test positivity rate and the rising number of cases,” White House health advisor Dr. Deborah Birx told reporters at a press conference in Kentucky on Sunday after meeting with Gov. Andy Beshear. —Noah Higgins-Dunn
Bill Gates says delays make tests worthless
Most coronavirus tests run in the U.S. are a “complete waste” because it takes so long to return results that people aren’t able to self-isolate once they find out they have the virus, Microsoft co-founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates told CNBC.
Labs across the nation have failed to increase testing capacity at the same pace with which the outbreaks across the U.S. are growing. Turnaround times for the most reliable Covid-19 diagnostic tests can take days or even weeks, depending on where the test is administered, two of the country’s biggest lab diagnostics companies said earlier this month.
Health specialists say that renders isolation and contact tracing efforts effectively useless because the country is unable to quickly identify who is infectious and target the response on them.
“The simplest thing, which has to do with such insanity, is you should not reimburse somebody for getting a test that it takes more than 48 hours to get the result back,” Gates said in an interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin that aired Tuesday on “Squawk Box.” “That test is a complete waste. And to all these numbers about how much we test, the majority is just complete waste.” —Will Feuer
The biggest tech show of the year will be online-only in 2021
It’s the biggest U.S. tech show of the year. Samsung, LG and other companies typically unveil new products, while others like Google, Microsoft and Amazon use it to show devices they’ve unveiled at earlier events.
The move will hurt the Las Vegas economy. CES attendees stay at Las Vegas hotels, eat in local restaurants and gamble in the casinos.
The CTA said it plans to hold the event as usual in Las Vegas in 2022. —Todd Haselton
Top virus experts say Covid-19 is ‘here to stay’
Two of the country’s top infectious disease experts say Americans should expect to be leading a “24/7” Covid-19 life, and not even a vaccine will change that.
Former CDC head Thomas Frieden and the University of Minnesota’s Michael Osterholm warned at a recent CNBC event that even after a vaccine becomes available, the U.S. has a long way to go in getting the pandemic under control, and there is still much we do not know about this particular coronavirus. “Even with a vaccine, there is no going back to normal anytime soon,” said Frieden.
They urged the public to use the “blunt tools” we have available, including distancing and masks, in the effort to stop the spread of the virus, even though there is a good chance that the virus is “here to stay.” —Eric Rosenbaum
Benefits of going back to school in ‘almost every location’ outweigh costs for young kids, Bill Gates says
Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates told CNBC that it’s important for young students to attend in-person class this fall despite the threat of Covid-19.
“I’m a big believer that for young children, the benefits in almost every location — particularly if you can protect the teachers well — the benefits outweigh the costs,” he said in an interview on “Squawk Box.”
The decision for high-school-age students, however, should be more localized, according to the Microsoft co-founder.
“As you get up to age, like, 13 and higher, then you’ll have to look at your locale to decide what you’ll do with high schools,” he said. “And if they’re not in, then you have to put massive effort into trying to get there to be continued learning online.” —Kevin Stankiewicz
Dr. Fauci defends his work advising the public on pandemic
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Trump Administration’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Kevin Dietsch | Pool via Reuters
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, defended his work advising the public on the pandemic, saying he has not misled the American public “under any circumstances.”
The comment came in response to retweets on Twitter from President Donald Trump on Monday evening. The posts, which have since been removed, accused Fauci of misleading Americans and promoted hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug touted by Trump as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.
Trump and other administration officials have criticized Fauci’s advice on the pandemic in recent weeks, widening an apparent rift between the White House and its top infectious disease advisor who is a key member of the White House’s coronavirus task force. Last week, Fauci said it is unlikely the coronavirus will ever be eradicated, contradicting Trump, who has said the virus would “disappear.” —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
Concert featuring Goldman Sachs CEO to be investigated over ‘egregious’ social-distancing violations
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon performs at Schimanski night club in Brooklyn, New York.
Trevor Hunnicutt | Reuters
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that health authorities would investigate a charity concert, which included performances by Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon and the Chainsmokers, over social distancing violations.
Solomon, who goes by the deejay name D-Sol, was on stage and performed for an hour. “The group that put this together did an incredible job in a difficult environment,” he said in an interview here with Bloomberg.
The Saturday concert, which was expected to be a drive-in event called “Safe & Sound,” had space for about 600 cars and was held in Southampton, New York. Attendees eventually left their vehicles, however, and swarmed the stage, raising concerns among New York officials about coronavirus spread.
The Fed now will run its lending programs to the end of the year
The Federal Reserve is extending the life of its credit programs, which were instituted to combat the economic downturn, to the end of the year.
Lending facilities for small and larger businesses, as well as corporate bond buying programs and other measures, were set to expire at the end of the September. Instead, the Fed said it run them until Dec. 31, even though market functioning has been strong and the takeup of the programs has been modest compared to their $2.3 trillion potential.
The Fed launched the facilities in the early days of the pandemic as markets froze. —Jeff Cox
Stocks slip as coronavirus relief debate continues
Stocks opened slightly lower as lawmakers continued their debate over the next coronavirus relief and traders digest the latest batch of corporate earnings, reports CNBC’s Fred Imbert and Maggie Fitzgerald.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 80 points lower, or 0.3%. The S&P 500 dipped 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.2%.—Melodie Warner
No gap year after all — most college students opt to stay in school, Sallie Mae finds
Regardless of whether colleges reopen their campuses or remain online, the vast majority of undergraduates plan to continue their education as planned.
Just 2% of students said they would take a gap year and only 5% considered switching to a school closer to home, according to Sallie Mae’s annual “How America Pays for College” report, which polled nearly 2,000 students and parents in April.
Since the survey was conducted in the spring, millions of Americans have experienced a financial shock due to the coronavirus crisis. And yet, fewer families have applied for financial aid.
However, it’s not too late to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which serves as the gateway to all federal money, including loans, work-study and grants. —Jessica Dickler
Harley-Davidson to streamline portfolio as lockdowns affected production
A biker rides a Harley Davidson
Fabian Bimmer | Reuters
The motorcycle company also announced plans to streamline its product portfolio, which will eliminate 700 positions but is estimated to save about $100 million a year.
The Milwaukee-based company reported a second-quarter loss of 60 cents per share, compared with a profit of $1.23 per share a year ago. Motorcycles and related products revenue fell 53% year-over-year to $669 million, hurt by the temporary suspension of production during the quarter due to lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus. —Melodie Warner
Air freight struggles as airlines cut flights
Cargo has been one of the brighter spots in air transportation during the pandemic, but even that sector is having trouble. Demand measured by cargo-ton kilometers fell 17.6% in June from a year earlier, while capacity dropped 34% from June 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association, a trade group that represents most of the world’s airlines.
Part of the issue is reduced availability because many airlines have cut some international passenger service, depriving customers of the chance to book space in aircraft passenger bellies.
“Cargo is, by far, healthier than the passenger markets but doing business remains exceptionally challenging,” said IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. ‘While economic activity is re-starting after major lockdown disruptions there has not been a major boost in demand. The rush to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to market has subsided as supply chains regularized, enabling shippers to use cheaper sea and rail options.”
Some carriers including United Airlines started flying cargo-only flights during the pandemic. United said its cargo revenue jumped 36% from a year ago to $402 million and that the unit generated 27% of United’s revenue in the quarter, up from a less than 3% during the second quarter of 2019. —Leslie Josephs
Outbreak continues to dent corporate profits
The coronavirus pandemic continues to dent corporate profits, as widespread shutdowns and added financial burden eat into earnings. Here’s what a few firms reported ahead of the market open:
Even biotech company Pfizer saw its unadjusted net income fall 32% during the most recent quarter as demand for some drugs waned during the pandemic. The company expects a rosier second half to the year, though, and raised its full-year outlook. —Sara Salinas
There could be a ‘substantial’ drop in death rate, Bill Gates says
Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates told CNBC in an interview that coronavirus treatments could reduce the death rate substantially by the end of this year.
“You can see the therapeutic benefit faster than the protective benefit,” Gates said in an interview that aired Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “So I think there’s a good chance we’ll have substantial death-rate reduction by the end of the year with the combination of those new tools.”
Gates mentioned a number of drugs and potential treatments for the coronavirus, including Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir, which is currently the only drug with emergency use authorization in the U.S. However, he cautioned that while better drugs will help combat the disease’s most severe symptoms, it won’t “drive us back to complete normalcy.”
Gates said he is “enthused about all the vaccines that the U.S. has funded” and emphasized the importance of persuading the public to take vaccine if and when it becomes available.
“Hopefully they’ll look to the facts, understand the values of the people that they’re thinking about and understand that we’re in this together and we need to protect each other with masks and eventually probably with herd immunity with a vaccine,” he said. —Will Feuer, Jasmine Kim
Testing turnaround continues to slow, Quest says
Quest Diagnostics the average turnaround time for molecular coronavirus diagnostic tests, or PCR tests, has continued to slow across the country as the spike in demand outpaces the increase in capacity.
The average time to receive results is now more than two days for top priority patients, which include hospital patients, some pre-operative patients and symptomatic healthcare workers, Quest said. The company added that for all others, testing turnaround time is more than seven days.
“The laboratory industry’s ability to add testing capacity is limited by a range of issues,” Quest said. “The most significant hurdle we face now is limits to complex testing platforms and chemical reagents required to perform testing.” —Will Feuer