Covid-19 vaccine: AstraZeneca “approached Gilead for a possible merger” | Business

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AstraZeneca has approached rival Gilead Sciences over a potential merger, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday.Any merger, which would be the largest healthcare contract ever recorded, would bring together two of the companies leading the pharmaceutical industry to develop a vaccine and treatments for Covid-19.

A combination of the two would be valued at around £ 200 billion. AstraZeneca, which is valued at £ 110 billion, recently surpassed Royal Dutch Shell to become the UK’s largest company by market value. Gilead was valued at around $ 96 billion (£ 74 billion) at Friday night’s closing price.

AstraZeneca contacted Gilead in May, but did not provide terms for any transactions, the report said.

An AstraZeneca spokeswoman said the company had commented on rumors or speculation. Gilead did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two companies and several other drug manufacturers, including Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Merck, are fighting to develop a vaccine and treatments for Covid-19.

More than 6.9 million people have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide and 399,025 have died, a Reuters report said on Sunday.

Bloomberg said Gilead had discussed the idea of ​​the merger with advisers, but no decision had been made on how to proceed and that the companies were not in formal talks. Gilead was not interested in selling or merging with another large pharmaceutical company, and preferred to focus on partnerships and small acquisitions, the report said.

AstraZeneca said last week that it had doubled the manufacturing capacity of its potential coronavirus vaccine to doses of $ 2 billion in two deals involving billionaire Microsoft Bill Gates, which guaranteed early supplies in low-income countries returned.

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It is not clear whether the vaccine will work, but AstraZeneca’s partnership with the University of Oxford to develop it is one of a handful of initiatives supported by Donald Trump’s Covid task force.

Gilead was also at the forefront. Its antiviral drug remdesivir is the first to lead to improvement in Covid-19 patients in formal clinical trials.

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