• Recently Bloomberg Businessweek released an article highlighting Gilead Sciences Inc. in a rare example of foresight amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A Presilience® approach focuses foresight and proactively managing uncertainty, rather than reaction and recovery.
    Gilead’s investigational medicine, Remdesivir has been shown to aid in combatting a wide range of Coronaviruses, including MERS and SARS, and now COVID-19.
  • In January, Gilead pre-emptively put together a task force to investigate the effectiveness of Remdesivir against COVID-19 and establish supply channels to mass produce the drug in the event of a pandemic.
  • Due to this Presilient approach, Gilead not only established that Remdesivir could be effective in fighting COVID-19, but have also managed to save valuable time by purchasing the requisite raw materials well ahead of COVID-19 reaching pandemic status and cutting up to 50% of the time it takes to mass produce the drug.
  • Remdesivir was authorised in May for use on emergency cases and expects to be authorised for wider use in the coming weeks and months.

Bloomberg Businessweek released an article highlighting the foresight of Gilead Sciences Inc., with the experimental broad-spectrum Coronavirus investigational medicine, Remdesivir. Whilst the drug is still in clinical trials, it has shown promise in fighting COVID-19. However, the true Presilient nature of the company is not in its development of the drug, but rather in their foresight in planning for the possibility of a Pandemic and the steps they have taken to be proactively prepared and resilient.

The new Presilience® approach shifts focus away from an emphasis on planning, procedures, systems and recovery, which are essentially established to avoid the mistakes of the past, and focuses rather on the people who are managing and responding to risk. Presilience® is about enhancing their inherent skills and capabilities to be adaptable, flexible and agile in response and then building the systems to support them as opposed to making them fit into the system. Essentially Presilience® is about foresight, planning and managing uncertainty – where resilience is focused on recovery, Presilience® is focused on forward thinking.

We live in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world now, and the move towards Presilience® is a fundamental requirement in the way we do business.

The Gilead case embodies this approach:


Prior to becoming a pandemic, the news about the newly discovered Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), in Wuhan made its way to VP for Discovery Virology at Gilead, Tomas Cihlar on 31 December 2019. At that stage, very little was known about the virus, apart from the fact that it could be a new coronavirus.

Whilst the world largely continued on as usual, blissfully unaware of the impending pandemic, Gilead immediately sprung into action to prepare for the “what if… “, should a pandemic arise. Gilead had previously developed Remdisivir, a drug that was found to be helpful in combatting a wide variety of viruses, including several Coronavirus strains such as SARS and MERS. The news of a possible new Coronavirus was enough to have Gilead CEO and Chairman, Daniel O’Day pre-emptively spring into action.

Presilience® in Action

Despite the difficulties in mass producing a drug like Remdesivir (which by all accounts appears to be more complex than many other drugs), and the fact that Gilead had very little raw materials ready on hand to produce the drug on a large scale, CEO Daniel O’Day rapidly put together a task force to further investigate the novel Coronavirus.

Starting with establishing the effectiveness of the drug on the emerging new Coronavirus, the task force started working on a plan to establish a robust supply chain for the raw materials required to quickly mass produce the drug. At this stage in January the virus had not yet become a pandemic and hopes were high that it could be contained. Regardless, the team at Gilead ordered the most crucial raw materials from all over the world in preparation.

Further, in an open letter, released at the beginning of April, Mr O’Day revealed that whilst the manufacturing process for Remdesivir was complex, time consuming and required highly specialised lab environments, the task force has tirelessly worked on reducing manufacturing time by 50% through repurposing of facilities and expanding external manufacturing partners. Practically, this means that the end-to-end manufacturing time-line has been reduced to 6 months (from 12 months). This could not have happened if Gilead’s approach had been reactionary rather than Presilient.


Gilead. (2020, May 20). About Remdesivir. Retrieved from Gilead: https://www.gilead.com/purpose/advancing-global-health/covid-19/about-remdesivir

Gilead. (2020, May 05). Working to Supply Remdesivir for COVID-19. Retrieved from Gilead: https://www.gilead.com/purpose/advancing-global-health/covid-19/working-to-supply-remdesivir-for-covid-19

Langreth, R. (2020, May 14). All Eyes on Gilead. Retrieved from Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-gilead-remdesivir-coronavirus-treatment/

O’Day, D. (2020, April 04). An Update on COVID-19 from our Chairman & CEO. Retrieved from Stories @Gilead: https://www.gilead.com/stories/articles/an-update-on-covid-19-from-our-chairman-and-ceo

Schneider, G., & McGuirk, T. (2020, April 06). The move towards Presilience – Dr Gavriel Schneider & Tony Mcguirk. Retrieved from IFSEC Global: https://www.ifsecglobal.com/security/the-move-towards-presilience/#_ftn1