US stocks rose sharply Wednesday after Gilead Sciences announced encouraging results for its experimental coronavirus treatment.
Just before noon the Dow was up some 2 percent or 529 points. The S&P 500 climbed 72 points and the Nasdaq surged 267 points.
The upbeat news on Gilead’s remdesivir is raising hopes of progress on the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 people and crushed the American economy.
Gilead Sciences announced it is “aware of positive data” from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ study of remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19. The company said it understands the trial “met its primary endpoint.”
The news sent US stocks soaring because there are currently no treatments approved by the FDA for treating coronavirus. The Dow was up more than 400 points at the open.
Health restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic have caused millions of job losses and led the US economy to contract during the first quarter for the first time since 2014.
In addition to the positive news on the NIAID study, Gilead announced topline results from a Phase 3 trial evaluating remdesivir given to hospitalized patients with severe coronavirus. The company said the study demonstrated patients receiving a 10-day treatment course of the drug “achieved similar improvement in clinical status” compared with those taking a five-day treatment.
Importantly, Gilead said “no new safety signals were identified” in either treatment group. The company plans to submit the full data for publication in the coming weeks.
This isn’t the first time remdisivir has set off a big rally on Wall Street. US stocks soared on April 17 on a report about positive signs for the Gilead drug. Yet analysts warned at the time that remdisivr won’t be a silver bullet in the fight against coronavirus.
That’s partially because remidisvir is a potential treatment, not a vaccine that could prevent the disease from infecting people in the first place.
Yet there was positive news on the vaccine front as well. A German company working with Pfizer has begun human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine that could supply millions by the end of the year.
“Hopefully we’ll get more good news from Gilead and other drug companies on therapeutics that could increase the confidence of people to reengage with businesses again,” Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, wrote in a note to clients.