Gilead Sciences (GILD 0.29%) received a vote of confidence from the World Health Organization on Monday when a WHO official said that its experimental COVID-1) drug shows great potential.
Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general of the World Health Organization, went on to say during a Beijing briefing that remdesivir seems to be the "one drug right now that we think may have efficacy." Shares of Gilead shot up by as much as 6.9% following the briefing.
Remdesivir was originally developed to be an Ebola vaccine, but it proved less effective than was hoped against that disease. However, back in January, one COVID-19 patient who received remdesivir on a compassionate use basis saw a substantial improvement in symptoms. Since then, the Chinese government has started human trials with remdesivir, with WHO stating that clinical results would be available within weeks.
Although the COVID-19 epidemic is becoming a major worldwide issue, developing a treatment for it might not be all that lucrative. Geoff Meacham, an analyst at Bank of America, has said that remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment would have little long-term impact to Gilead's bottom line, at best bringing in $2.5 billion in one-time revenue for the biotech giant.
There are 79,737 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far, with 2,628 deaths. While the virus' spread within China seems to have slowed down, other countries have seen a surge in cases. Italy reported another 66 cases of the coronavirus Monday, news that sent European stock markets into a panic.