Receive our daily digest of health news via email HERE.

Covidien (COV) said today it expects 2018 to be its “most challenging” year in terms of U.S. health care outbreaks as it continues to struggle with many of the most severe viruses in the world, including the human coronavirus and the Zika virus, known as “chikungunya.”

Covidien’s shares were off more than 1% in premarket trading.

The company expects more Ebola-like cases in the U.S. and Ireland in 2020 as the flu season ramps up, management said.

“The number of cases and transmission of viruses such as the acute respiratory tract infection coronavirus and the Pertussis (whooping cough) may be continuing to increase,” company spokesperson Sean Whelan said on the call with analysts and reporters, who were briefed earlier.

Covidien also expects its HIV/AIDS treatment Thalassaemia to remain a top-selling medicine, despite the recent strategic shift of its business into potentially less lucrative cardiovascular business to concentrate on its health care segment.

Covidien acquired Swedish-based Thalassaemia last year from another pharmaceutical firm, Inhibitex (ITXC), and now is testing another drug in Europe that is linked to Thalassaemia and called Liberty.

“While we don’t want to be that (pharmaceutical company) in a drug that people call Tobacco,” read a transcript of the call. “I don’t know what they call a drug. Whatever it is, it makes us an awfully good company, I’ve got to say, that deals pretty well with every one of these diseases that we have. I just want you to understand that. And we’re proud of that.”

Overall, 2018 was “the most challenging year” in the history of the company, whlan said.

The company is taking actions as a result, he added. “In terms of what we can do, we’re already planning for next year and we’re already planning for the future. So I wouldn’t expect a dropoff,” he said.

When asked whether the company would slash its workforce amid the downturn, CEO Mireille Akers said “yes, we will.”

Last week, Reuters reported that Trump’s administration is considering shifting the duties of U.S. chemical and pharmaceutical companies to those in other countries.

President Donald Trump last week said he would consider introducing a new trade policy that would require U.S. firms to relocate foreign-made products into the U.S. from low-wage countries to create jobs.

“It’s way better for the American worker if we get rid of this trade,” Trump said. “Let the companies create where the workers are, and how can I possibly say I want to do better job? I’m going to do exactly the same thing.”

On Tuesday, Avista (AVA) said the United States will face its biggest solar panel power shortage in more than four decades as electricity demand is expected to surge in 2020.

The resulting shortage is expected to reduce output to zero by the year 2020, the Lehigh Valley-based utility said in a statement.

Prices for medium- to large-crystalline silicon solar panels are expected to average $0.45 to $0.50 per watt, reaching roughly $0.75 by 2027, according to the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association.

Prices for polysilicon, a component of solar panels, are estimated to range from $0.25 to $0.80 per watt, and prices for specialty or high-tech cells in the mid-$0.10 to $0.15 per watt range, reported the trade group.

“Prices for the largest more sophisticated silicon crystalline panels will increase in price significantly over the next 20 years as the market becomes more competitive,” said Richard M. Duffey, president and CEO of the trade group.

*Join Covidien as it discusses its 2018 performance in a live webcast beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

Join the discussion with a discussion board that could be accessed at the bottom of this page.

B-Team Up!