Stocks rose across the world on Wednesday after Gilead Sciences (GILD) said it had seen “encouraging” results from a clinical trial of experimental drug remdesivir, which is being used to treat some severe cases of coronavirus.
The new data shows that some coronavirus patients who received a five-day course of the drug saw similar improvements to those on a 10-day course, meaning that significantly more people could be treated with the current supply of remdesivir.
“This is particularly important in the setting of a pandemic, to help hospitals and healthcare workers treat more patients in urgent need of care,” said Dr Merdad Parsey, the chief medical officer of Gilead.
The drug has not been proven to treat coronavirus, and a previous trial in China failed to show any meaningful results in COVID-19 patients.
Multiple trials of remdesivir, one of the most-watched potential coronavirus treatments, are currently being conducted.
The data released on Wednesday came from an uncontrolled trial, meaning that its results should be considered with caution.
Writing that the Gilead data was “undoubtedly positive for risk,” Neil Wilson, the chief market analyst at Markets.com, noted that “the closer you get to treatment or a vaccine the quicker we reopen the economy.”
“Rumours of positive results from Gilead a week ago helped lift spirits and this is yet more encouraging news,” he said.
Shares in Gilead rose by more than 3% on Wednesday.
The positive momentum came even after the US Bureau of Economic Analysis said that US economic growth turned negative for the first time since 2014 in the first three months of the year.
US gross domestic product contracted by 4.8% in the first quarter, worse than analysts had forecast.
The US Federal Reserve will also hold a scheduled policy meeting on Wednesday. While it is not expected to announce any major policy changes, analysts believe the bank could provide guidance on what it intends to do with its $6.6tn (£5.3tn) balance sheet.
Stocks in Asia rose on Wednesday, pushing the MSCI Asia Pacific index into bull market territory, meaning it has gained 20% since its recent lows.
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