Gilead Sciences Inc said on Thursday it was assessing whether its experimental Ebola treatment could be used to treat the new coronavirus that has caused a disease outbreak in China.
“Gilead is in active discussions with researchers and clinicians in the United States and China regarding the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus outbreak and the potential use of remdesivir as an investigational treatment,” a company spokesman said in an emailed statement.
Coronavirus infections can lead to respiratory illnesses – some of which can be severe and deadly such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and some of which can be much milder such as the common cold.
The company said that there was no antiviral data on the drug that showed activity against the coronavirus that was identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
But testing in animals had shown that the drug was effective against the SARS coronavirus.
China has put millions of people on lockdown in two cities at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak as authorities around the world worked to prevent a global pandemic.