By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
Brazil has the second highest death toll at 134,106 and third highest case tally at 4.4 million.
India is third with 83,198 deaths and second with 5.1 million cases. Mexico is fourth with 71,978 deaths and seventh with 680,931 cases.
The U.K. has 41,794 deaths and 384,075 cases, the highest death toll in Europe and fifth-highest in the world.
China, where the illness was first reported late last year, has 90,262 cases and 4,736 deaths, according to its official numbers.
What’s the latest medical news?
Eli Lilly and Co. /zigman2/quotes/200106384/composite LLY +0.33% and Amgen Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209157011/composite AMGN -1.29% will collaborate on COVID-19 antibody treatments as a way to significantly boost global supply capacity. The announcement comes a day after Lilly said interim data from a mid-stage clinical trial assessing its experimental antibody treatment reduced the rate of hospitalization as well as viral load in some COVID-19 patients.
The investigational therapy, LY-CoV555, is produced using neutralizing antibodies gathered from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. The ongoing, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 study is expected to enroll a total of 800 participants, all of whom have mild to moderate symptoms and are being treated with LY-CoV555 in an outpatient setting.
“Through this collaboration, the two companies will have the ability to quickly scale up production and serve many more patients around the world should one or more of Lilly’s antibody therapies prove successful in clinical testing and receive regulatory approval,” Lilly and Agmen said in a joint statement.
Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207222917/composite RIGL +8.83% has started a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating Tavalisse as a treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The study, which is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, will enroll about 60 patients and consider disease progression as well as safety and efficacy.
“Expanding our clinical effort into this second trial in COVID-19 related lung injuries is critical,” Rigel CEO Raul Rodriguez said in a news release. The Food and Drug Administration approved Tavalisse as a treatment for chronic immune thrombocytopenia in adults in 2018.
Quest Diagnostics Inc. /zigman2/quotes/201001842/composite DGX +0.35% will sell a COVID-19 diagnostic test directly to consumers to use at home. The test, which requires nasal swab collection, previously received an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
When a consumer orders the test online, a physician reviews the order before agreeing to send it out. Consumers can either perform the test at home and mail it back to Quest, or take the kit to a Walmart Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207374728/composite WMT -0.31% drive-through pharmacy, perform the test, and then drop it off there.
Finally, Moderna Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA -5.73% , which is currently conducting a Phase 3 trial of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate, plans to start developing a seasonal flu vaccine.
“We are increasing our investment in vaccines and we will develop a seasonal flu vaccine given the unmet need for highly effective vaccines,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a news release.
What’s the economy saying?
The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits through state and federal programs fell in September for the first time in five weeks, but initial jobless claims are still very high and point to ongoing job losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, MarketWatch’s Jeffry Bartash reported.
Initial jobless claims filed traditionally through state employment offices fell to 860,000 in the week of Sept. 6 to Sept. 11, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast new claims to fall to 870,000.
New claims also fell for the first time since mid-August if self-employed workers who applied for benefits under a separate federal program are included. Some 658,737 people filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act.
That put the number of actual or unadjusted new claims at 1.45 million, compared to 1.73 million in the prior week. Federal filings declined for the first time in five weeks.
The labor market continues to heal from the viral recession, but unemployment remains extremely elevated and will remain a problem for at least a couple of years,” said chief economist Gus Faucher of PNC Financial Services in Pittsburgh. “With initial claims at almost four times their pace before the pandemic, layoffs are far higher than normal.”
Separately, The Philadelphia Fed said its gauge of business activity in its region dipped in September. The regional Fed bank’s index fell to 15 from 17.2 in August. Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions. This is the fourth straight positive reading. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a 13 reading.
The major indexes moved lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.64% down more than 100 points and the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.24% down about 0.7%.
What are companies saying?
• Delta Air Lines Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200327741/composite DAL -1.60% said the debt offering planned with its SkyMiles IP Ltd. subsidiary was upsized to $9.0 billion from previous plans for a $6.5 billion offering. The offering will include an aggregate of $2.5 billion in 4.5% senior secured notes due 2025 and $3.5 billion in 4.75% senior secured notes due 2028. The company said it also expects to enter into a credit agreement providing for a $3.0 billion term loan facility.
• Cinema operator The Marcus Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200309857/composite MCS -1.99% is planning to offer $87 million in convertible bonds that mature in 2025, joining the many companies issuing record levels of debt and equity during the coronavirus pandemic. Proceeds will be used to pay the cost of capped call transactions that aim to reduce dilution on conversion.
• The Michaels Cos. Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207984083/composite MIK -0.14% is planning to offer $500 million of 7-year bonds as the arts and crafts retailer joins the many companies issuing record levels of debt during the coronavirus pandemic. Proceeds will be used together with borrowings from a term loan and cash on hand to refinance an existing term loan and pay fees.
• Perrigo Company PLC /zigman2/quotes/201110862/composite PRGO 0.0000% is voluntarily recalling albuterol sulfate inhalation aerosols over concerns that some may not dispense properly due to clogging. The Dublin-based maker of over-the-counter and generic health products already halted production and distribution of the aerosols. Perrigo is expecting to book a charge of $18 million to $22 million in the third quarter relating to the recall, and has not booked any revenue from the product since August. It reiterated its guidance for fiscal 2020 adjusted per-share earnings to range from $3.95 to $4.15, citing strong demand in the consumer self-care Americas business and faster-than-expected recovery in consumer self-care international and base prescription businesses that were hurt by the pandemic.
Additional reporting by Connor Smith, Jaimy Lee, Tomi Kilgore, Tonya Garcia and Tim Rostan