Financial markets around the world have plunged in recent days in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The potential for widespread disease to disrupt the global economy has caused pervasive fear among investors. And with economists warning that a full-scale epidemic could throw the U.S. and many other countries into a recession, more pain could lie ahead.
If you're searching for a way to safeguard your wealth during these frightening times, read on to learn about two companies working to help the world battle the spread of coronavirus -- and that could potentially deliver handsome rewards to their investors in the process.
The biotech titan
Gilead Sciences (GILD 0.10%) is perhaps our best hope at finding an effective treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The biotechnology giant is currently conducting late-stage clinical trials for its experiential drug remdesivir in both China and the U.S.
Remdesivir was originally developed to treat Ebola virus disease, but it proved ineffective for that purpose. However, remdesivir demonstrated some promise in animal models for treating MERS and SARS, which are also caused by coronaviruses that are structurally similar to COVID-19. The preclinical data on remdesivir in MERS and SARS suggests that the drug may have potential as a treatment for COVID-19.
Health officials have expressed optimism about remdesivir and have identified it as the current frontrunner among potential COVID-19 treatments. "There is only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy and that's remdesivir," World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward said at a recent press briefing.
If remdesivir proves effective for the treatment of COVID-19, it will no doubt be a positive catalyst for Gilead's stock. News of an effective coronavirus treatment would likely also result in a sharp rebound in the world's financial markets, and could potentially even help to stave off a global recession.
The virtual care provider
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, medical facilities and doctors around the world are seeking ways to scale the care they provide to patients. Telehealth services -- which allow healthcare professionals to provide medical consultations via videoconferencing applications on patients' computers, tablets, and smartphones -- are one of the best ways to do so. And no company is better positioned to profit from this trend than Teladoc Health (TDOC 2.50%).
Teladoc is the worldwide leader in virtual care. It's already integrated into the global healthcare system, with operations in more than 175 countries. It serves thousands of businesses, including more than 40% of the Fortune 500, and works with many of the largest insurance companies. And its network of hospitals already reaches into the hundreds.
Patients, employers, and insurers all value Teladoc's services, which help to reduce costs and provide a more convenient patient experience. Unsurprisingly, Teladoc is growing rapidly. Its revenue jumped 32% to $553.3 million in 2019, fueled by a 57% surge in patient visits.
Better still, Teladoc recently struck a deal to acquire InTouch Health for $600 million. The deal will add more than 14,500 doctors at 450 hospitals to Teladoc's network, as well as a company that saw sales climb by 35%, to approximately $80 million, in 2019. This acquisition -- combined with a potential surge in demand for virtual care services due to the coronavirus outbreak -- is likely to turbocharge Teladoc's growth in 2020 and beyond. Investors who buy shares today should earn sizable profits, which could help you offset any losses you might suffer from further coronavirus-related market declines.