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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The health care industry has been on a long run of financial prosperity, but early data points show the coronavirus is abruptly ending that run.

The big picture: Health care is usually pretty recession-proof because people still need to see doctors and fill prescriptions when the economy tanks. 

  • But almost no business is immune to a pandemic that is severely curtailing almost all forms of consumption, including most health care services.

Driving the news: Walgreens and Tenet Healthcare yesterday previewed how bad things have been so far.

  • Sales at Walgreens stores shot up 26% in the first 21 days of March compared with the same time in 2019, as people stockpiled prescriptions, toiletries and any other product they could find. But sales then plummeted "at a mid-teens rate of decline" as people hunkered down at home. April will be worse.
  • Hospital and surgery center chain Tenet Healthcare withdrew its 2020 financial expectations and furloughed 500 people, as surgery volumes dried up. Tenet, through the new bailout package, also will be asking the federal government to advance the pay on $1.5 billion of Medicare revenue — which will have to be repaid later.

Go deeper: Health care profits dip, but stocks soar

Go deeper

Cold December as safety nets expire

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Safety nets are likely to be yanked from underneath millions of vulnerable Americans in December, as the coronavirus surges.

Why it matters: Those most at risk are depending on one or more relief programs that are set to expire, right as the economic recovery becomes more fragile than it's been in months.

14 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

17 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.