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Sanofi (SNY)  shares jumped after the French drug giant said it was joining the hunt for a vaccine for the new coronavirus, which has sickened tens of thousands of people and killed more than 1,800, mostly in China.

Sanofi's American depositary receipts at last check rose 1.6% to $50.72 after the pharmaceutical company said it would work with U.S. health officials on a vaccine to stop the spread of Covid-19. The disease originated in China, but scattered cases of it have emerged worldwide.

Sanofi will work with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority within the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. 

The plan is to revive work on an advanced prevaccine drug it started to develop more than decade ago to combat SARS. Like SARS, Covid-19 is part of a family of coronaviruses that can cause respiratory disease.

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The ability to jump-start a previous project, discontinued after the SARS epidemic faded in 2004, will give Sanofi a leg up in the search for a vaccine to treat the new coronavirus, the company said in a statement.

"Addressing a global health threat such as this newest coronavirus is going to take a collaborative effort, which is why we are working with Barda to quickly advance a potential vaccine candidate," said David Loew, global head of vaccines at Sanofi.

Sanofi joins an array of companies already in the race to develop a vaccine or other treatments for the new coronavirus.

At least a dozen now are actively engaged in the hunt. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) also recently said it would be working with Barda as well, as it researches a potential vaccine.