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Coronavirus Update: What Merck, Chevron, Colgate-Palmolive, Caterpillar Said About the Pandemic

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Good morning, it’s Friday, July 31. I’m Katherine Ross and here’s your daily coronavirus update.

There are 17.3 million cases of the virus worldwide, with over 673,000 deaths.

The U.S. has 4.4 million cases with over 152,000 deaths.

According to the COVID-19 Tracking Project, there were 69,415 new cases reported Thursday. 803,000 new tests were done..

And 1,262 deaths were reported yesterday.

Sanofi and GalaxoSmithKline were selected under Operation Warp Speed to supply the U.S. government with 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The government will be providing up to $2.1 billion for development, which includes manufacturing scale-up, clinical trials and delivery.

Thomas Triomphe executive vice president and global head of Sanofi’s vaccine division, said in a statement, ““The global need for a vaccine to help prevent COVID-19 is massive, and no single vaccine or company will be able to meet the global demand alone.”

Chevron posted a second-quarter loss that was wider-than-expected and warned that commodity demand won't return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of the year at least.

CEO Michael Wirth said, "Given the uncertainties associated with economic recovery, and ample oil and gas supplies, we made a downward revision to our commodity price outlook which resulted in asset impairments and other charges...While demand and commodity prices have shown signs of recovery, they are not back to pre-pandemic levels, and financial results may continue to be depressed into the third quarter 2020."

Caterpillar reported earnings that came in well below year-ago levels as the coronavirus pandemic and lack of demand for new construction equipment hit sales.

Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby said, “We are well-positioned for these challenging times because of the successful execution of our strategy...We are focused on employee safety and maintaining a competitive and flexible cost structure while continuing to invest in services and expanded offerings to better serve our customers. We will adjust production as conditions warrant and are prepared to respond quickly to any positive or negative changes in customer demand.”

Colgate-Palmolive posted stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings Friday as cleaning product sales during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic boosted the brand giant's top and bottom lines.

CEO Noel Wallace said, “We continue to see elevated demand across our geographies in certain categories such as liquid hand soap, dish liquid, bar soap and cleaners...In other categories, we are starting to see the impact of consumers working down their pantry inventories, particularly in Europe."

And, finally, there’s Merck.

Merck posted adjusted earnings and sales Friday that handily beat analysts’ forecasts as sales of its drugs and vaccines brought in more revenue than expected.

CEO Kenneth Frazier said, “We are conscious of our abiding responsibility to help advance vaccine and antiviral efforts as part of the global response to [COVID-19] and to ensure broad, equitable and affordable global access to any medicines and vaccines we bring forward.”

You can follow Katherine Ross on Twitter at @byKatherineRoss.

Read more from Katherine Ross here.

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