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The Stock Market Is Insane to Rally on Gilead’s Flimsy Remdesivir Study

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:54 PM
William Ebbs
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:54 PM
  • The stock market is soaring after Gilead reported “positive data” on its remdesivir trial for COVID-19.
  • Gilead’s study is unconvincing, and the drug looks overhyped.
  • Investors should stop looking for magic bullets and accept that there is no easy solution to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. stock market rose sharply today after Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) reported “positive” preliminary results in a remdesivir trial to treat COVID-19.  Unfortunately, the trial results are inconclusive, and earlier Chinese research suggests that the drug doesn’t work .

Investors seem to be grasping at straws to find any excuse to ignore the deteriorating fundamentals of the U.S economy. And this may come back to haunt them when reality finally sinks in.

stock market, gilead sciences, S&P 500
Gilead Sciences (black) injected hopium into the broader stock market (blue) on Wednesday. | Source: Yahoo Finance 

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Worse than Ever

By the numbers, the coronavirus pandemic is worse than ever. The United States added over 25,000 new cases yesterday, along with 2,470 deaths , bringing the total fatalities to 59,266. Much of the country remains locked down to slow the spread of the disease.

People will slowly get back to their normal activities. But things may never be the same until there is an effective treatment for COVID-19. Many have hinged their hopes on remdesivir, an experimental treatment developed by Gilead Sciences.

Gilead developed remdesivir as a potential treatment of the Ebola virus , but due to its powerful anti-viral activity, it was quickly touted as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Now, Gilead claims to have found encouragement in a recent study, but the results leave much to be desired because they lack a control group.

Stock Market Ignores Key Details of the Remdesivir Study

The trial involved two groups of patients who were hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19.  One group received Remdisivir for five days while the other group took the drug for ten days.

The study found that half of the patients in both groups were discharged within 14 days, and 64.5% of the patients who received the shorter treatment were discharged compared to 53.8% who received the longer treatment.

According to Aruna Subramanian, a lead investigator of the study, the results are encouraging. She states the following: 

These data are encouraging as they indicate that patients who received a shorter, 5-day course of Remdesivir experienced similar clinical improvement as patients who received a 10-day treatment course.

Subramanian’s findings seem completely irrelevant. The study doesn’t prove that remdesivir treats coronavirus because it doesn’t include a control group. None of the patients received a placebo. That means we have no way of knowing if remdesivir had any clinical impact on the patients.

And while Subramanian may disagree, the fact that patients exposed to remdesivir for longer spent more time in the hospital raises the question about whether the drug could do more harm than good.

But today’s stock market rally suggests that investors are so drunk on COVID-19 treatment hopium that they don’t care about these pesky details.

Disclaimer: This article represents the author’s opinion and should not be considered investment or trading advice from CCN.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.