The Week That Was: COVID-19 Drug/Vaccine Development Landscape

The deadly pathogen SARS-COV-2, which causes COVID-19, continues to spread unabated in most parts of the world while in some regions it has been brought under control. At last count, the total number of confirmed cases of infection across the globe is 5.31 million and the death toll is 342,147. The U.S. tops the list with 1.62 million confirmed cases and 97,087 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As the companies race against time to develop antibiotics or vaccines against the novel coronavirus, here’s what happened in the COVID-19 drug/vaccine development space in the week that went by.

1. Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate On Track For Phase II Study

Moderna Inc.’s (MRNA) vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus, mRNA-1273, has yielded positive results in a phase I study that was led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In the phase I study, all eight participants evaluated to date across the 25 µg and 100 µg dose cohorts of mRNA-1273 developed detectable antibodies in the blood against the novel coronavirus at or above levels seen in convalescent sera. In addition, the vaccine candidate elicited neutralizing antibody titer levels in all the participants across the 25 µg and 100 µg dose cohorts, reaching or exceeding neutralizing antibody titers generally seen in convalescent sera. Neutralizing antibodies interferes with a virus/pathogen’s ability to infect a cell.

The phase II study of mRNA-1273 vaccine will be conducted by Moderna. The Company was given FDA clearance to initiate a phase II study of the vaccine on May 6, and the study is expected to begin shortly.

Moderna is finalizing the protocol for a phase III study, which is scheduled to begin in July 2020.

MRNA closed Friday’s trading at $69.00, up 2.91%.

2. IMV Selects COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate To Advance Into Phase I testing

IMV Inc. (IMV), which has been evaluating a number of peptide epitopes in an animal model, has selected a vaccine candidate for COVID-19 to advance into human testing.

The vaccine, dubbed DPX-COVID-19, is designed to utilize a multi-target approach, to optimize immune response against virus’ weaknesses, enhance efficacy at preventing infection and reduce the potential for immune escape, according to the Company.

A phase I clinical study of DPX-COVID-19 in Canada is scheduled to be launched during summer 2020.

IMV closed Friday’s trading at $3.53, down 2.75%.

3. NantKwest Gets Clearance To Move BM-Allo.MSC Into Clinical Study In COVID-19 Patients

NantKwest Inc. (NK) has been given the go-ahead by the FDA to advance BM-Allo.MSC, an allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) product derived from human bone marrow, into human testing for the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by COVID-19.

The clinical study of BM-Allo.MSC in severe COVID-19 disease patients receiving care in the critical care or ICU setting in Los Angeles area hospitals is expected to start this quarter (Q2).

NK closed Friday’s trading at $5.58, down 2.45%.

4. Aldeyra To Advance Potential COVID-19 Meds Into Clinical Study In Q3, 2020

Aldeyra Therapeutics Inc. (ALDX) has plans to test two of its compounds – ADX-1612 and ADX-629 – as a treatment for COVID-19.

ADX-1612 is an inhibitor of chaperone protein HSP90, a target widely implicated in viral disease.

In lab studies, ADX-1612 has demonstrated nanomolar potency similar to or greater than that of Gilead’s Remdesivir. Complementary to the nucleic acid inhibition mechanism of action of Remdesivir and related antiviral compounds, ADX-1612 potentially leads to the inhibition of proteins associated with viral replication and infection and thereby may enhance the activity of other antiviral drugs for the treatment of COVID-19, according to the Company.

The Company plans to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application, seeking clearance to initiate a clinical trial of ADX-1612, in the third quarter of 2020.

The second potential COVID-19 drug candidate ADX-629 has been granted a BARDA CoronaWatch meeting.

ADX-629 has completed pre-IND discussions with the Pulmonary Division of the FDA, and Aldeyra expects to submit an IND application, seeking clearance to initiate a human trial, in June 2020.

ALDX closed Friday’s trading at $4.27, up 0.71%.

5. Appili To Test Favipiravir As Preventative Measure against COVID-19 Outbreaks

Appili Therapeutics Inc. (APLI.V) has received regulatory clearance from Health Canada to conduct a phase II study evaluating FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical’s Favipiravir as a preventative measure against COVID-19 outbreaks.

The study, which will enroll approximately 760 subjects, both residents and staff, at 16 long-term care homes (LTCHs) in Ontario, is expected to begin immediately. This is the first clinical study to examine the use of Favipiravir for COVID-19 outbreak control.

Favipiravir, under the brand name Avigan, is approved in Japan as a treatment and stockpile countermeasure for the pandemic influenza outbreak.

APLI.V closed Friday’s trading at C$1.69, up 0.60%.

6. Octapharma To Initiate Phase III of Trial Of Octagam 10% In COVID-19 Patients

Privately-held Octapharma USA has secured FDA clearance to initiate a phase III trial of Octagam 10% therapy in COVID-19 patients with severe disease progression.

Octagam 10% is an immune globulin intravenous (human) liquid preparation indicated for the treatment of chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) in adults.

The trial to evaluate Octagam 10% therapy will enroll about 54 adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19 with a resting SpO2 of less than or equal to 93%, requiring oxygen supplementation. SpO2, also known as oxygen saturation, is a measure of the amount of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood relative to the amount of hemoglobin not carrying oxygen.

Octapharma hopes to report results from the phase III Octagam 10% therapy study in COVID-19 patients by the third quarter of 2020.

7. Inovio Expects Phase I Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Results In June

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s (INO) vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, INO-4800, has demonstrated promising results in animal testing.

Mice and guinea pigs vaccinated with INO-4800 generated robust binding and neutralizing antibody as well as T cell responses, which could provide protection from SARS-CoV-2.

A phase I clinical trial evaluating the safety profile and immunogenicity of INO-4800 in humans is underway in the U.S. Preliminary safety and immune response data from the phase I trial are expected in June.

If all goes well as planned, the Company plans to start a phase II/III efficacy trial of INO-4800 in July/August.

INO closed Friday’s trading at $14.08, down 1.12%.

8. Vaxart’s COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate To Enter Phase I Study In Summer

After evaluating multiple vaccine candidates in preclinical models, Vaxart Inc. (VXRT) has selected its lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate and has contracted with KindredBio to manufacture bulk vaccine to complement the manufacturing capacity of partner Emergent BioSolutions.

Vaxart’s vaccines are produced in tablet form and are not injectable vaccines.

The Company is planning to start its first phase I study of COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the second half of this year, possibly as early as the summer.

VXRT closed Friday’s trading at $2.91, down 3.32%.

9. CanSino’ Phase I Study Results of COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Published In Lancet

CanSino Biologics Inc.’s recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV has demonstrated that it is tolerable and immunogenic at 28 days post-vaccination in a phase I study.

The phase I study was conducted in Wuhan, China, and it involved healthy adults aged between 18 and 60 years.

Ad5-nCoV as an intramuscular injection of vaccine was tested in three dose groups. Humoral response, i.e., the formation of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, peaked at day 28 post-vaccination in healthy adults, and rapid specific T-cell responses were noted from day 14 post-vaccination, according to the study findings published in the Lancet.

A phase II trial of Ad5-nCoV, designed to enroll 500 healthy adults, is underway, with results expected to be available by January 2021.

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British Land writes down value of retail arm by more than a quarter

British Land, which owns shopping centres including Sheffield’s Meadowhall and Drake Circus in Plymouth, has written down the value of its retail portfolio by more than a quarter due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The government’s implementation of a nationwide lockdown in late March helped push the company, which also owns office properties in London, to a £1.1bn loss for the year to the end of March. This compares with a loss of £320m the previous year.

“Like businesses around the world, in recent months our focus has been on responding to the unprecedented challenges brought about by Covid-19,” said Chris Grigg, the company’s chief executive. “This was already a difficult year for retailers, many of who have been severely impacted by the lockdown and the early effects of the crisis were reflected in the value of our retail portfolio.”

The company said it had lost £2m in rent by giving a three-month payment holiday to the end of June to smaller retail, food and beverage, and leisure customers. In addition, about £35m of rent payments have been deferred for customers facing financial challenges due to the spread of Covid-19. British Land said it collected 68% of rent owed in March, 97% from its London office sites, but just 43% from retail customers.

British Land said it was prepared for the reopening of businesses, with its retail parks “more conducive to mission-based trips and social distancing more easily managed”.

The company said the value of its office portfolio had risen by 2.3%, with 97% occupancy.

“Occupiers are working on plans to get back to the workplace and most feel that it is too early to make fundamental long-term changes around their requirements,” said Grigg. “However, we are mindful that the trend towards greater flexibility may accelerate following this prolonged period of working from home.”

The 26% fall in the value of British Land’s retail empire dragged down the value of its entire portfolio by 10%. Grigg said the impact of coronavirus was accelerating the company’s shift towards supporting online retail.

“We continue to believe there remains a role for the right kind of retail within our portfolio,” he said. “Especially assets that can play a key role for retailers in terms of fulfilment of online sales, returns and click and collect. This will particularly be the case for well-located open-air retail parks.”

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Defense Secretary Esper says coronavirus vaccine 'absolutely' possible by end of 2020

Trump: We have many companies far along on potential vaccine, cure

President Trump says the goal is to administer millions of coronavirus vaccines quickly to the American people.

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday doubled down on his statement that a coronavirus vaccine could be developed and distributed at scale by the end of 2020.

"Absolutely it's possible," Esper said during an interview on the "Today" show. "I've spoken to our medical experts about it, we are completely confident we can get this done."

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"We will deliver on-time the vaccines," he added.

President Trump unveiled an ambitious $10 billion program last week to develop, produce and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, with the goal of making "at least" 300 million doses to administer to Americans.

"We will deliver, by the end of this year, a vaccine at scale to treat the American people and our partners abroad," Esper said during the White House event last week in the Rose Garden.

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The National Institutes of Health has said that one or two possible vaccine candidates could be ready for large-scale testing by July, with several other likely to follow. But the NIH director, Francis Collins, cautioned that a successful vaccine by January is a "very bold plan…a stretch goal if there ever was one."

Globally, there are about a dozen vaccine candidates in the first stages of testing or about to begin. Some of the notable ones that have garnered attention in recent weeks include those created by biotech company Moderna and a different one from Oxford University.

Collins told the Associated Press during an interview that the current tests are "looking pretty good," but noted that "until you put it into the real world and check it out you don’t really know. You can’t skip over that really, really hard part of testing this in thousands and thousands of people.”

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The tests are necessary to determine the correct dosage and ensure there are no negative side effects.

The U.S. has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, totaling nearly 1.6 million. As of Friday morning, the virus had killed 94,729 individuals in the nation, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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Finance Commission committee reports high levels of uncertainty

Participants have wide variations of opinion in nominal GDP growth projections, ranging between -6% and 1%

India’s nominal GDP growth rate in 2020-21 could range between -6% and 1%, according to members of the 15th Finance Commission’s committee on the fiscal consolidation roadmap, which met via video conferencing on Thursday.

“There are high levels of uncertainty, both with regard to the course of the pandemic and the fiscal pressures on the economy and the trend of economic recovery,” the Commission’s Chairman N.K. Singh told journalists after the meeting. He said participants in the meeting had wide variations of opinion in terms of nominal GDP growth projections, ranging between -6% and 1%, as well as on whether the economy would experience a V-shaped or U-shaped recovery.

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Nominal GDP growth does not take inflation into account, and is thus higher than real GDP growth. For reference, the Centre projected a 10% nominal GDP growth rate for this year in the February Budget. For 2019-20, the nominal growth was estimated at 7.5%.

In medium term

“In the medium term, we would like to be in the range of 8% growth, or the debt trajectory becomes very problematic,” said Dr. Singh, who felt that the Centre’s reforms as part of the Aatmanirbhar stimulus package were meant to spur such growth in the medium term, even if they did not help with the immediate situation. “The question is what is the lag with which these reforms are going to reflect in the growth rate in the medium term.”

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He also endorsed the Centre’s reform conditions to allow States to exceed their current borrowing limits, although several State governments have objected to this. Representatives from Punjab and Tamil Nadu were added to the Committee for Thursday’s meeting.

The Finance Commission’s high level group on health, headed by All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Randeep Guleria, also met on Thursday, in order to review its earlier recommendations in view of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It has now recommended an immediate beefing up of health infrastructure in areas with a cluster of positive patients, and also discussed how to address the growing needs of rural health infrastructure and manpower, especially with migrants returning from the cities often carrying the virus to their villages.

‘Wide disparity’

“There is a wide disparity between the per capita health personnel available in various States. The situation in rural Bihar and Jharkhand is dramatically different from the cities. We considered how technology can be used to bridge that gap,” said Dr. Singh.

The anaesthetists who are needed to operate ventilators are crucially missing in many rural areas, he noted, even while manufacture of the machines has been stepped up. There was also a suggestion to allow final year MBBS students to begin practising in some areas, as well as some discussion about the need for a national health service.

In the medium term, the government’s financial outlay on the health sector must increase significantly from the current 0.9% of GDP, said Dr. Singh. Suggestions were also made with regard to improving the reach of the Ayushman Bharat scheme, especially among out-patient cases.

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Tyson expects coronavirus to continue crimping production

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Tyson Foods Inc. said it expects continued challenges maintaining meat production for its current fiscal year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Meat processors are struggling to maintain operations amid outbreaks of Covid-19 among their workforce, leading supermarket chains to brace for meat shortages. President Trump recently signed an executive order meant to allow production facilities to stay open.

"Operationally, we have and expect to continue to face slowdowns and temporary idling of production facilities from team member shortages or choices we make to ensure operational safety," the company said Monday.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
TSN TYSON FOODS INC. 55.05 -4.96 -8.26%

Tyson, for example, said on April 22 it would indefinitely suspend operations at a pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, where 2,800 people work. The company said two days earlier it would resume limited production at another pork facility in Iowa, which it had idled for two weeks due to coronavirus worries.

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Around 20 meat- and food-processing workers have died due to Covid-19 and roughly 5,000 more had been hospitalized or had symptoms, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said late last month.

A shopper examines packages of Tyson brand chicken products in the refrigerator section of an Associated Supermarket in New York City on Nov. 14, 2005. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"During the quarter, we witnessed an unprecedented shift in demand from food service to retail, temporary plant closures, reduced team member attendance, and supply chain volatility as a result of the virus," Chief Executive Noel White said in a statement.

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Tyson said it generated $10.89 billion in sales for its latest quarter, up from $10.44 billion a year earlier. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted $10.96 billion in sales for the latest period. The company said orders from retailers jumped in the quarter, which ended March 28, while those from restaurants and other food-service customers fell.

Sales volumes for beef and pork products rose 2.7% and 2%, respectively, for the latest quarter. Volumes for chicken slipped 1.5%, the company said.

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Prices for all of its products were up 1.6% in the quarter, with pork prices rising 6% compared with last year.

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The company reported a profit of $364 million, or $1 a share, for the quarter, down from earnings of $426 million, or $1.17 a share, in the comparable quarter last year. Tyson reported a profit following adjustments of 77 cents a share, short of the $1.04 a share that analysts expected.

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Interest rates steady during coronavirus pandemic: What it means for your wallet

Fed will mantain low rates until economy has weathered coronavirus

Former Dallas Fed adviser Danielle DiMartino Booth, FOX Business contributor Gary Kaltbaum, senior vice president and market strategist for Vision 4 Fund Distributors Heather Zumarraga and Fitz-Gerald Group chief investment strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald provide insight into the Federal Reserve’s decision to keep interest rates at zero during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Interest rates will remain at zero percent until the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic begin to subside, which is good news for some consumers, the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday.

The central bank has taken a number of steps to help Americans, including some that encourage lending, but keeping interest rates at zero is another way policymakers intend to stimulate economic activity.

Here’s a look at the ways the policy affects you:

Credit card APRs

The annual percentage rates for credit cards with variable interest rates tend to move in line with the Fed’s benchmark federal funds rate.

That is good news for people who are carrying debt.

However, the decline isn’t typically significant enough to be too helpful, especially at a time when many Americans are facing serious financial challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Mortgage rates

While not directly tied to interest rates, mortgage rates can be influenced by moves in the benchmark federal funds rate.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, however, mortgage rates were at historic lows.

Many Americans took advantage of lower rates throughout 2020 to refinance their mortgages, especially those who may need some extra cash..

Meanwhile, mortgage rates recently hit a record low. And the Mortgage Bankers Association on Wednesday reported a pick-up in mortgage purchase applications for the week ending April 24.

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Your savings

On the downside, savings accounts will not be accruing much interest.

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell acknowledged this negative effect for savers during a press conference on Wednesday, but the central bank needed to consider the well-being of the broader economy, he said.

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The Fed cut rates to zero over the course of two emergency sessions in March.

On Wednesday, policymakers said they would remain in the current range until the body is “confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.”

“The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term,” the FOMC statement released on Wednesday read.

The next Fed meeting will take place in June.

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Child Benefit: Some are entitled to early payments in May – this is why

Child Benefit is available to parents and guardians of a child under the age of 16, or under the age of 20 if they are in education or training. Families with an income of below £60,000 are entitled to £21.05 for their eldest or only child. A lower figure of £13.95 is allocated for any additional children. These entitlements were recently increased by 1.7 percent in line with the start of the new 2020/21 tax year.

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The benefit is available to those who have one parent or guardian on a salary of over £50,100, however this category should be aware of the progressive tax paid on the benefit.

This means any income over £60,000 is taxed at 100 percent. 

Child Benefit payments are usually issued every four weeks, hitting the bank accounts of Britons on a Monday or a Tuesday. 

However, because of a yearly bank holiday which falls in May, people may be able to receive the payment from the government at an earlier date.

This year, the late May spring bank holiday falls on Monday, May 25. 

As a consequence, Britons will not be able to receive any payments on this date. 

If a parent or guardian was due to receive their payment on this date, they will now be entitled to receive it a few days earlier, on Friday, May 22. 

This is because May 22 is the last working day before the bank holiday. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, more Britons could find themselves entitled to the Child Benefit payment, when previously they could have been excluded.

The government has advised people to keep aware of their salary or income to see whether they could now receive the payments due to job losses or furloughing.

For those who have faced a reduction in their income, Child Benefit could prove a solution to a cash flow drop.

If earnings and profits of your household fall below £60,000 in the new 2020/21 tax year, you could be eligible for tax-free Child Benefit.

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This means a two-child family could stand to receive up to £1,819 per year in tax-free benefits. 

But this can only be backdated for three months, so parents and guardians have been advised to act quickly. 

Those who believe they are entitled have been told to use the CH2 form on the gov.uk website.

Only one person is permitted to claim Child Benefit for any dependent children.

The government has stated it is best for any parent who does not expect to be paying National Insurance contributions for the foreseeable future to make the application.

This is because Child Benefit claims can also provide non-working parents with National Insurance credits towards the State Pension, which would be forfeited if an earning parent were to claim.

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Health Experts Rebuke Donald Trump’s WHO Funding Freeze: ‘Crime Against Humanity’

Leading health experts have delivered a stinging rebuke of President Donald Trump’s decision to halt U.S. funding for the World Health Organization amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump announced the move on Tuesday, accusing the WHO of failing “in its basic duty” to initially warn the world of the burgeoning public health crisis that is believed to have originated in China.

Lawrence Gostin, a global health law expert from Georgetown University, warned MSNBC’s Ari Melber that “there’ll be many more deaths” without a WHO that’s empowered.

Check out the segment here:

Gostin also predicted a loss of U.S. global influence as a consequence:

Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the Lancet medical journal, described it as “a crime against humanity,” tweeting “every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity.”

“The president’s decision makes Americans less safe, let’s be clear about that,” Thomas Bollyky, the director of the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, explained to CNN’s Don Lemon:

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Reuters that the WHO may indeed need to be reformed but suggested now was not the right time as “it’s not the middle of a pandemic that you do this type of thing.”

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta acknowledged the WHO made “missteps” but warned cutting funds amid the pandemic would end up penalizing countries with weaker health care systems:

American Medical Association President Dr. Patrice Harris warned halting funding “is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier.”

“Fighting a global pandemic requires international cooperation and reliance on science and data,” Harris said in a statement shared online. “Cutting funding to the WHO – rather than focusing on solutions – is a dangerous move at a precarious moment for the world.”

“The AMA is deeply concerned by this decision and its wide-ranging ramifications, and we strongly urge the President to reconsider,” Harris added.

Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease doctor and associate professor at Boston University’s school of medicine, tweeted that cutting the funding “is an absolute disaster.” 

And Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, who warned of a  pandemic in a 2015 TED talk, said the halting of funding is “as dangerous as it sounds.”

“Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them,” he wrote, adding: “The world needs @WHO more than ever.”

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Health care companies facing coronavirus crisis cut pay to workers

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As many health care workers get used to a new normal working around the clock to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., some health care companies are furloughing workers and delaying benefits.

Boston Medical Center has furloughed 10% of its workforce, which adds up to approximately 700 workers.

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"Although furloughed employees will cease to work temporarily, they will remain in active status with the expectation of returning," a Boston Medical Center spokesperson told FOX Business. "All furloughed employees are eligible to use their vacation and sick time. The furloughs apply mostly to administrative employees."

Such tough decisions come as hospitals and other facilities cancel elective procedures and lose that income because of coronavirus.

Nurses stand in protest in front of Research Medical Center Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The cuts don't only apply to health care workers in the Northeast, where the virus is hitting hard. Texas-based hospital operator Tenet Healthcare confirmed to FOX Business that it's postponing its 401(k) match program that benefits workers across the U.S.

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Ticker Security Last Change Change %
THC TENET HEALTHCARE 13.88 +0.88 +6.73%

"Every effort is being made to help bring us all through this crisis, and we have made the decision to direct additional resources to meet the increased demand for healthcare services, address evolving patient needs in our hospitals and protect front-line staff," a spokesperson for Tenet, a publicly traded company, told FOX Business.

In addition, national emergency medicine staffing company Alteon Health is suspending paid time off and cutting pay for administrative employees and executives, STAT reported. Another national company, Steward Health Care, has furloughed an unknown amount of workers, the Boston Globe reported.

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The companies' decisions come as President Trump has floated the idea of "bonus" or hazard pay for doctors, nurses and other health care workers, most recently at Wednesday's White House coronavirus task force briefing.

FOX Business' inquiries to Alteon and Steward were not returned at the time of publication.

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Bernie Sanders Calls For Wisconsin To Delay Upcoming Primary Due To Coronavirus

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday urged election officials in Wisconsin to postpone the state’s Democratic primary out of concern for the spread of coronavirus. 

“People should not be forced to put their lives on the line to vote, which is why 15 states are now following the advice of public health experts and delaying their elections,” Sanders said in a statement. “We urge Wisconsin to join them.”

The state’s primary is scheduled to take place next Tuesday. 

Sanders, who is vying with former Vice President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination, said Wisconsin should push back its primary voting day, extend early voting and move entirely toward a vote-by-mail process. 

More than 1 million voters had requested absentee ballots in Wisconsin as of Wednesday morning, according to the state’s elections commission. 

On Wednesday afternoon, the state’s Democratic Party shared a Twitter video reminding voters of the April 7 deadline for mail-in ballots.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Biden leads Sanders in delegates, 1,271 to 914. A candidate needs 1,991 pledged delegates to earn the nomination.

Still, Sanders told “Late Night” host Seth Meyers on Tuesday that he sees a “narrow path” to victory and vowed to stay in the race.

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