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Gilead Shares Gain After Launching Phase 3 Studies For Coronavirus Treatment

Gilead Sciences said remdesivir will be tested on around 1,000 patients with both moderate and severe symptoms of the respiratory-focused coronavirus.

Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Free Report shares extended gains Thursday after the drugmaker said its nascent coronavirus treatment will undergo advance human testing in Asia.

Gilead said that around 1,000 patients in the region, suffering from both moderate and severe symptoms of the respiratory focused virus, known as COVID-19, will be given varying doses of remdesivir as part of a Phase 3 study. Earlier this week, the World Health Organization said remdesivir may be the "only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy" in treating the rapidly-spreading disease, which has infected at least 81,000 around the world and caused at least 2,800 deaths. 

Earlier this month, U.S. doctors treating the first domestic case of the disease used the treatment, which has not yet been approved by any medical authority, on what the New England Journal of Medicine described as "compassionate" grounds late last week, only to see the patient's pneumonia-like symptoms subsequently improve.

“Gilead’s primary focus is on rapidly determining the safety and efficacy of remdesivir as a potential treatment for COVID-19, and this complementary array of studies helps to give us a more expansive breadth of data globally on the drug’s profile in a short amount of time," said chief medical officer Merdad Parsey. "The speed with which remdesivir has moved into clinical development for this coronavirus reflects the pressing need for treatment options and the shared commitment of industry, governments, global health organizations and healthcare providers to respond to this public health threat with the highest urgency,”  

Gilead shares were marked 4.2% higher at $77.97 each, a near two year high and move that would extend the stock's one-week gain to around 20%.

Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Free Report shares were also on the move, rising 26% to a record high $36.75 each, as investors bet its MRNA-1273 treatment, which been shipped to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for a planed U.S.-based study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, will also prove to be an effective coronavirus treatment.