The stock market gained ground on Monday, bouncing back from its Friday losses as market participants continued to watch the status of the global COVID-19 pandemic closely. The spread of the coronavirus has been worrying lately, but investors hope that the federal government's efforts to shore up the economy will help to mitigate some of the negative impacts of the outbreak. As of 11 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 331 points to 21,967. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) rose 49 points to 2,590, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) gained 180 points to 7,683.
Companies in a wide variety of industries are working hard to fight the coronavirus outbreak, but investors are seeing the most notable progress in the healthcare industry. Both Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) had good news on the coronavirus front, and while it could take a while for the global community to see the positive impacts, their actions are adding to the overall success of efforts around the world.
Abbott passes the test
Shares of Abbott Labs were higher by 8% as investors got their first chance to react to news from last Friday. Abbott worked hard to get a COVID-19 point-of-care test out to healthcare professionals, and it got the go-ahead to make those tests available to those who need them within the next week.
Abbott received an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its coronavirus detection test. The test delivers results quickly, with positive results coming in as little as five minutes and negative results within 13 minutes. Running on Abbott's ID NOW platform, the tests will allow healthcare workers to administer the tests and get results in hospitals, urgent care clinics, and doctors' offices.
Abbott's test uses molecular technology, which has a track record of high levels of accuracy. It's also portable, making it available for use in the field in areas with high exposure to the pandemic. Abbott expects to boost its manufacturing capacity to 50,000 tests per day, with deliveries of the test starting in the coming week. All told, Abbott believes it can produce 5 million tests per month when you add in a second testing platform the company launched just a week ago.
Abbott isn't the only healthcare company offering coronavirus testing. However, with tests still in short supply in many areas, every advance should help in the fight to diagnose and treat coronavirus patients.
J&J hopes for a vaccine win
Elsewhere, shares of Johnson & Johnson were up 6%. The healthcare giant said that it's chosen a lead candidate toward developing a coronavirus vaccine, and it'll spend more than $1 billion on research and development to get the treatment moving forward quickly.
Johnson & Johnson has worked on multiple vaccine candidates since the outbreak began, and now that it's chosen its best prospect, the company wants to get ready to manufacture more than 1 billion doses if it's successful. J&J anticipates that it will start human clinical studies by September, with the hope of gaining emergency use authorization from the FDA by early 2021.
J&J will work together with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which is a sub-department of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The two entities will find various funding sources and commit personnel toward finding a viable vaccine even as J&J ramps up its production capacity.
As J&J CEO Alex Gorsky explained, "The world is facing an urgent public health crisis, and we are committed to doing our part to make a COVID-19 vaccine available and affordable globally as quickly as possible." Shareholders are enthusiastic about that prospect, and even if a successful coronavirus vaccine doesn't produce huge profits for J&J, they're confident the reputational gain will pay off in the long run.