Wuhan Begins Human Trials Of New Gilead Coronavirus Vaccine

Last week, scientists in Hong Kong warned that it might take up to a year for them to produce and test a vaccine to fight the deadly coronavirus that has now killed more people than SARS in mainland China. But on Monday, shares of drug company Gilead climbed following reports that it's conducting a human trial for a drug to fight the outbreak, according to Bloomberg.

Gilead shares have already faded their gains...

...but we suspect that news about the trials is contributing to the forgiving market sentiment in the US, where shares look set to open higher following the bloodbath overnight in Chinese markets.

Here's more from the Bloomberg report about the clinical trials, which will reportedly be carried out in Wuhan, the epicenter of the viral outbreak. As many as 270 infected patients will be recruited for the study.

Remdesivir, a new antiviral drug by Gilead Sciences Inc. aimed at infectious diseases such Ebola and SARS, will be tested by a medical team from Beijing-based China-Japan Friendship Hospital for efficacy in treating the deadly new strain of coronavirus, a hospital spokeswoman told Bloomberg News Monday.

Trial for the drug will be conducted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan -- ground zero of the viral outbreak that has so far killed more than 360 people, sickened over 17,000 in China and spread to more than a dozen nations. As many as 270 patients with mild and moderate pneumonia caused by the virus will be recruited in a randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled study, Chinese news outlet The Paper reported on Sunday.

China has kick-started a clinical trial to speedily test a drug for the novel coronavirus infection as the nation rushes therapies for those afflicted and scours for vaccines to protect the rest.

The task of finding a workable vaccine has taken on added urgency now that the outbreak is set to cost the global economy up to 4x what SARS did during the 2002-2003 outbreak, which is why so many companies are racing to develop the vaccine. JNJ is also working on a coronavirus vaccine.

Drugmakers such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc. as well as Chinese authorities are racing to crash develop vaccines and therapies to combat the new virus that’s more contagious than SARS and could cost the global economy four times more than the $40 billion sapped by the 2003 SARS outbreak. The decision to hold human trials for remdesivir shows it’s among the most promising therapies against the virus that so far has no specific treatments or vaccines.

Gilead's experimental drug hasn't been approved by any regulators, but it's being tested on the front lines of the outbreak in the absence of any approved remedies.

All of this begs the question: is 'we found a workable vaccine' the new 'trade deal secured'? Will confirmation be enough to send US stocks to fresh record highs?