The FTSE 100 surged on Friday after US drug company Gilead announced positive results from a trial of the antiviral drug Remdesivir.
A trial at the University of Chicago found the large majority of 125 patients with COVID-19 who undertook the experimental course of Remdesivir showed dramatic signs of improvement. Two of the 125 sadly died.
The study at the University of Chicago was a phase 3 trial and involved 113 patients that were classed as seriously ill, many of whom were on ventilation.
Reports from researchers highlighted significant improvement in patients with changes noticable almost immediately after the patients began taking Remdesivir.
Over the weekend, the UK Investor Magazine reported Gilead had seen an improvement in two thirds of seriously ill patients with COVID-19 who had received a course of Remdesivir.
The latest set of results build on these positive findings, but further trials are needed to make broad assumptions on Remdesivir efficacy, and test the safety of the drug for use against COVID-19.
Such trials are currently underway with around 4,000 COVID-19 patients trialing Remdesivir at multiple locations around the world.
The trials have been ongoing since March and are expected to yield results in May.
Remdesivir had originally been developed for treatment of patients with Ebola but Gilead sent a free shipment to China in January to test on COVID-19 patients and initial positive findings sparked wider testing.
Gilead shares surged in after-hours trading last night and triggered a global rally in equities.
If the early signs of Remdesivir trials are backed up with more comprehensive results, it could provide the most important breakthrough in reducing the death rate in patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19.
In this scenario, government leaders may have the confidence to speed up the reopening of their economies, safe in the knowledge there is a drug that can dramatically reduce the death rate of the most severely ill patients with COVID-19.
The prospect of economies reopening drove a wave of optimism through equity markets with the FTSE 100 rising over 3% in Friday morning trade.
The German DAX was also much better bid and US futures were pointing to further gains.