As fears about the coronavirus outbreak in China continue to grow, a number of companies have started working on potential vaccines. Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD) announced Thursday that it was evaluating whether its experimental Ebola treatment could be used to treat the coronavirus.

In an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading, China has imposed travel restrictions on millions of people across the two cities at the center of the outbreak. The virus has already killed 18 people and infected more than 600. And although there has only been a single diagnosed case in the U.S. so far, authorities here are worried about the infection getting a foothold. 

A medical professional administering a vaccine to a patient.

Image source: Getty Images.

"Gilead is in active discussions with researchers and clinicians in the United States and China regarding the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus outbreak and the potential use of remdesivir as an investigational treatment," said a company spokesperson in an emailed statement according to Reuters.

The director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Anthony Fauci, also added that his department has been working with Gilead closely to test whether its Ebola candidate, an antiviral drug known as remdesivir, is effective in treating coronavirus. At the moment, there are some indications that it could be.

Further developments

Gilead isn't the only biopharma company out there working on a vaccine. Earlier on Thursday, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced a new agreement to develop an mRNA vaccine to combat the coronavirus. Both Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Moderna received funding from the organization to help accelerate their efforts to develop potential vaccines.

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