Coronavirus update: Global infections tops 10M; Gilead sets eye-popping remdesivir price

More than 10 million people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus as of Monday, with over half a million dead as the U.S. struggled to contain a spike in infections jeopardizing efforts to restart the world’s largest economy.
Domestically, over 2.5 million have been diagnosed and more than 125,000 have died from the virus. Texas and Florida — which on Monday reported its 7-day rolling average dropped from a relatively high level — are emerging as the newest hotspots. Soaring case numbers have heaped pressure on hospital systems in both states, and forced investors to rethink their lofty expectations of a rapid recovery.
Texas’s largest medical center pulled its intensive care unit (ICU) capacity reporting over the weekend, after reports of confusion over how to classify bed use. Meanwhile in Florida, reports of ICU cases no longer being reported last week have concerning some experts about the ability to accurately track the surging outbreak in the state.
The latest surge is partly attributed to increased testing, but experts argue that there’s more to the story. Segments of the population have been reluctant to adopt universal masking , while social distancing policies have been breaking down as the weather warms, and more cities relax tough lockdown measures.
Dara Kass, a Columbia University physician and Yahoo Finance contributor, told “The First Trade” on Monday that to some degree, a rollback of re-openings was always a possibility.
“There was a lot of false hope and misinformation,” she said, warning that a second COVID-19 wave “may be even worse because people may not follow the requirements” of another lockdown.
There are over 2.4 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance) More As the world waits for a safe and effective vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN Sunday he will have to accept an efficacy level of 70% to 75%. Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the closest to 100% effective has been the measles vaccine.
The furthest ahead in clinical trials is Moderna ( MRNA ), one of three companies selected by the federal government for financial and logistical support to meet aggressive development timelines. Moderna is set to begin phase 3 trials in July.
Meanwhile in China, the country has approved a candidate from CanSino Biologics, the candidate furthest along in the search for a vaccine. China’s military will use the treatment for a year that began on June 25, making it the first widely used COVID-19 vaccine in the world.
The move comes after China already approved two other vaccine candidates for use by employees in state-owned firms traveling overseas, according to Reuters.
Remdesivir’s big price tag Gilead Sciences announced it will begin charging $390 per dose for government funded insurance, and $520 per dose for private insurance Monday, significantly lower than the estimated $4,000+ per dose from non-profit ICER last week.
However, critics highlighted that the total for a five-day treatment course of six doses would be about $2,300 for government-funded coverage, and $3,200 for commercially-insured patients. The pricing is only applicable to the intravenous form of the drug— the only way it is available now— but could be different for the inhaled form the company is currently working on.
Columbia’s Kass pointed out that the drug is priced based largely on the ability to save a patient hospital time, rather than saving their lives. The savings are the equivalent of about $12,000, she told Yahoo Finance — even though remdesivir “doesn’t actually save lives yet.”