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Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline reach multi-billion dollar deal with U.S. for coronavirus vaccine

July 31, 2020, 7:53 PM UTC

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Happy Friday, readers. And on a housekeeping note, this will be the last daily missive of the Capsule for the foreseeable future. We’re going back to a weekly format next week and will be in your inboxes every Thursday afternoon. (Don’t worry, this was all planned. We’re not going anywhere.)

Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. effort to spur coronavirus vaccine candidates, added some new players to its roster on Friday. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, two European pharma giants with heavy footprints in the infectious diseases space, struck a deal worth up to $2.1 billion with the U.S. government that could provide 100 million doses and potentially up to 600 million of an experimental COVID vaccine (if it’s effective, that is).

This partnership, meant to spur manufacturing and development and secure supplies for Americans, is the largest of its kind under Operation Warp Speed.

That telegraphs an inevitable issue countries will have to face: Fighting over a limited supply of vaccine resources once one proves reliable.

Read on for the day’s news, have a wonderful weekend, and we’ll be in your inbox again on Thursday.

Sy Mukherjee
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com
@the_sy_guy

DIGITAL HEALTH

Digital health companies see revenue spikes in Q2. Companies including Teladoc and Dexcom (virtual doctor visit and continuous glucose monitoring firms, respectively), saw big rises in revenues this year as demand for digital health services grew. Teladoc specifically has benefited from the coronavirus pandemic but, as we've previously reported, such firms are confident that these changes will outlast the outbreak.

INDICATIONS

Merck paints a rosy earnings picture on cancer drug strength. Pharma giant Merck on Friday said that sales of its blockbuster cancer immunotherapy Keytruda raised its earnings in the second quarter of the year despite challenges from the coronavirus pandemic. “As expected, social distancing measures in many regions negatively impacted second-quarter volumes for many of our products,” said Merck CEO Ken Frazier in an earnings call. “However, customer access to care is steadily improving, including in our portfolio of vaccines, which was hit particularly hard this quarter.” Keytruda, specifically, saw sales jump nearly 30% during the quarter even while sales of other drugs dropped due to fewer hospital visits from patients. (CNBC)

THE BIG PICTURE

Children can carry the virus even if they have mild symptoms. A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics finds that children younger than five with just mild to moderate COVID symptoms actually carry higher loads of the virus, raising concerns about a push to re-open schools. My colleague Katherine Dunn reports that just because these children don't become severely ill doesn't mean they may spread the disease at a higher rate to those who may become severely ill, per the study. (Fortune)

REQUIRED READING

The economy is no longer the top issue going into the electionby Nicole Goodkind

Health experts on how to run errands safely during the pandemicby Brooke Henderson

U.S. GDP falls by a historic 32.9%by Lance Lambert

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