President Donald Trump will hold talks with executives from major pharmaceutical companies at 4 p.m. EDT Monday regarding the rapidly spreading SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. In a tweet this morning, Trump wrote: "I am meeting with the major pharmaceutical companies today at the White House about progress on a vaccine and cure. Progress being made!"
The president did not provide any details, particularly about the meeting's agenda. Nor did he specify which companies would be represented there. However, according to an article published Monday morning by Reuters, executives from Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) will attend.
In mid-February, Sanofi announced it would "leverage previous development work" with a vaccine it developed for severe acute respiratory syndrome -- aka SARS -- a disease caused by a different coronavirus that spread in the early 2000s. Johnson & Johnson is also attempting to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Both will be collaborating with a division of the Department of Health & Human Services on their efforts.
The COVID-19 outbreak has now claimed more than 3,000 lives around the world. On Sunday night, a second death in the U.S. from the illness was reported -- a man in his 70s living in a nursing facility near Seattle. The most recent reports document 88 confirmed cases of the disease in this country.
President Trump has formed a coronavirus task force to lead the U.S. government's response to COVID-19; it is headed by Vice President Mike Pence.
The broader stock market was up by almost 3% at midday Monday following last week's plunge. Share prices of the three drugmakers expected to participate in the White House meeting were up by similar percentages -- Sanofi by 3.7%, Pfizer by 3.6%, and Johnson & Johnson by 2.4%.