The week in coronavirus: GlaxoSmithKline starts trials on treatment and vaccine; Zoom posts massive

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This week was dominated by trials at GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK), while Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ:ZM) and Virgin Atlantic showed two very different sides of the impact of the pandemic on the corporate world.


Glaxo is busy


The pharma giant announced the start of trials on both a treatment and a vaccine.


The former, developed with NASDAQ-listed Vir Biotechnology, is a monoclonal antibody for the early treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk of hospitalisation at stage 2/3 of trials.


The vaccine, at the first phase of trials, is in partnership with France’s Sanofi and results are expected in December, with the pair looking to start the final phase of trials in the same month.


Good ride for Zoom…


The video conferencing software posted stronger than expected quarterly earnings and raised its revenue forecast for the full year.


Revenue in the three months to July 31 came in at US$663.5mln, a 355% increase on the same quarter last year and more than the entire US$622.3mln generated for the whole of 2019.


Adjusted net income came out at US$185.7mln for what was its second quarter, or 63 cents a share, way above analysts’ estimates of 45 cents a share based on previous guidance.


For the full year, revenues of US$2.37-2.39bn were estimated, up from the company’s previous forecast of around US$1.8bn.


…not as much for Virgin Atlantic


The airline saw its GBP1.2bn rescue deal approved by a London judge on Wednesday but announced 1,150 new job cuts on Friday.


The Richard Branson-owned airline had warned it would run out of cash by the end of September if the rescue package was not going to be approved.


It was set to complete this week, as shareholders, lenders, suppliers and major creditors had already shown thumbs up in July and August.


Virgin Atlantic is 51% owned by Branson’s Virgin Group and 49% by US airline Delta.


Job cuts and creation


Another redundancy round came from Costa Coffee, which announced to axe 1,650 roles amid the high street crisis.


Meanwhile, creditors approved the request of company voluntary arrangement advanced by clothier Jigsaw, which will lead to at least 200 job cuts as 19 stores close permanently.


The retailer has 74 stores and 900 employees in the UK.


There was a beacon of hope when Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced it would create 7,000 jobs in the UK on top of the 3,000 already filled this year.


But companies such as Costa Coffee and Jigsaw, which rely on brick-and-mortar sales, may not be too excited to hear an e-commerce behemoth is expanding even more.


Waiting for immunisation


Finally, the World Health Organisation said on Friday widespread vaccination is not expected to come until mid-2021.


The UN agency highlighted the importance of checking safety and efficacy of the formulations, The Guardian reported.


“This phase 3 must take longer because we need to see how truly protective the vaccine is and we also need to see how safe it is,” spokeswoman Margaret Harris told journalists at a briefing in Geneva.

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