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British pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca has approached US rival Gilead Sciences over a possible record merger, Bloomberg reported, as the pair spearhead treatments for COVID-19.

AstraZeneca informally contacted Gilead last month, Sunday's report said, adding that a combined group would be worth a record-breaking $236 billion when taking into account the companies' closing valuations Friday.

That was trimmed Monday, with AstraZeneca's down 2.14 percent at the start of London trading.

Gilead's antiviral drug remdesivir has been shown to help severely ill coronavirus patients, while AstraZeneca is trialing a COVID-19 vaccine.