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Coronavirus update: Global case count tops 700K, JNJ announces vaccine candidate

Anjalee Khemlani
Senior Reporter


The global coronavirus case count topped 735,000 Monday, with more than 35,000 deaths reported, according to Johns Hopkins. The U.S. has the most number of affected, with more than 140,000 cases, while Italy continues to see a staggering death toll that accounts for nearly one-third of deaths, at 10,700.

The 1,000-bed U.S. Naval Ship Comfort docked in New York City Monday, bringing much-needed relief to strained hospitals in the New York City metro area — which is the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S.

The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is docked at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va., Saturday, March 28, 2020. The ship set to depart for New York to assist hospitals responding to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Over the weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said the outbreak could claim 200,000 U.S. lives, and President Donald Trump said that number could have been more than 2 million without social distancing measures.

Those measures will be extended until April 30 after having been rolled out two weeks ago, Trump announced Sunday.

An increasing number of CEOs are taking pay cuts as the outbreak halts business, meanwhile, CFO’s are weighing the potential for layoffs in their businesses as the outbreak weighs on the bottom line.

A recent report from PwC shows 16% of CFOs are considering layoffs to alleviate that pressure, but a majority are looking to reduce mid- and long-term investments including in IT and facilities.


Confirmed coronavirus cases are still on the rise. (David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

Markets

All three major indices opened in the green, marking a sustained positive outlook since bouncing back last week from what some have said is likely the shortest fall into a bear market.

Paul Gruenwald, S&P Ratings global chief economist, told Yahoo Finance Monday, “The steepness of the decline here both in the markets and the macro economy is unprecedented.”

[Read More: Stocks higher as coronavirus cases top 700,000 globally]

Health and tech stocks are especially benefitting from the upside, as both are playing crucial roles in the response to the outbreak.

Microsoft (MSFT) said Monday it is seeing a 200% increase in Skype calling minutes per month, while other video conferencing platforms like Zoom (ZM) continue to see increased use.

Video has also taken hold in the telehealth space, which is seeing an increase in demand as patients stay out of doctors’ offices amid the nationwide stay-at-home policy.

Over the weekend, Cigna (CI) and Humana (HUM) became the latest insurers to offer coverage of inpatient treatment related to COVID-19, with both waiving in and out of network costs. Cigna said its policy will be in effect until May 31, while Humana said it would maintain the policy indefinitely.

The FDA, meanwhile, approved a malaria drug for emergency use which is produced by Novartis (NVS) and Bayer (BAYRY), both of which have already donated millions of doses to the national stockpile for use in responding to the outbreak.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced it had identified a vaccine candidate among those it had been testing, with plans to start production to meet 1 billion doses by the time it is approved for emergency use — potentially in early 2021.

Meanwhile, Moderna (MRNA), which was the first to produce a vaccine candidate and begin clinical trials — in a record 63 days — has had to pause enrollment in clinical trials, the company reported Monday.

It’s too early to tell if, when, and how the company can restart the trials, and what role video conferencing could play, officials said.

Due to social distancing measures, a number of clinical trials have been paused or moved online to track patients. The FDA has issued guidance on allowing remote monitoring of existing trial participants, if appropriate.

Confirmed coronavirus cases are still on the rise. (David Foster/Yahoo Finance)


Anjalee Khemlani is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @AnjKhem

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