A group of scientists, billionaires, and Nobel Prize winners is hoping to use its connections to the White House to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
A group of scientists, billionaires, and Nobel Prize winners well-connected to the Trump administration have put together a four-stage proposal on how to develop treatments and fast-track a vaccine in order to stem the US coronavirus outbreak.
The group, which calls itself “Scientists to Stop COVID-19,” was first reported on by The Wall Street Journal. It is made up of leading scientists in the fields of chemical biology, epidemiology, neurology, oncology, and even nuclear science, and is led by a 33-year-old physician and venture capitalist named Tom Cahill.
The collection of scientists have put their minds together to discuss and debate offbeat solutions to testing, treating, tracing, and curing the novel coronavirus in the US, and the group is hoping to leverage its connections to the Trump administration in order to fast-track their proposal to those at the helm.
“We are a group of passionate citizen-scientists who offer four actionable, non-partisan proposals to produce safe and effective COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines in the shortest possible timeframe, and to reopen our society in a manner that reduces the risk of future COVID-19 outbreaks,” the group said in their 17-page proposal published by The Journal.
The proposal stressed that none of the scientific minds involved had any financial ties to the companies or suggestions mentioned.
“Our only motivation is to help defeat the serious threat our nation and the world now faces,” the group states.
A vial of the drug Remdesivir being trialed for COVID-19 treatment.
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According to The Journal, Cahill first assembled the group in early March after feeling frustrated by the progress of COVID-19 vaccine research. Cahill, who earned his MD and Ph.D. from Duke University before pivoting to financial investment, has connections to wealthy investors, including Steve Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics, billionaire Peter Thiel, and Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s longtime aide.
Cahill thought to organize a conference call, leveraging his base of science and finance minds to come together and share ideas on how to tackle the virus. According to The Journal, the conference call was maxed out, indicating to Cahill that the idea was a success.
“For the 50 years I’ve been involved in medical research, I have never seen collaboration as we have today,” financier Michael Milken said in an email to Cahill after the call, according to the report.
The group’s proposal, which, according to The Journal, has been shared with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, and Vice President Mike Pence, calls for a four-stage plan to tackle the virus referred to as “waves.”
It called on the government to ramp up testing of the drug Remdesivir, an Ebola medication that is being studied as a possible post-infection treatment for COVID-19. It also called to accelerate the “development of an antibody therapy and short-term vaccine by Fall 2020,” and outlined a plan for the “rapid development of a vaccine against COVID-19 and future pandemics.”
It also laid out a plan for how to safely reopen schools and businesses and reduce the risk of a “second wave” of infection in the fall.
It’s unclear if the proposal has made it to the president’s desk or is being considered by members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which is leading the US’ coronavirus response.
Representatives for the White House did not immediately respond for comment.
The proposal comes as several US states are beginning to ease their lockdown restrictions despite the US’ mounting number of cases. As of Monday, the US has recorded over 988,000 cases and more than 56,000 deaths.
Georgia became the first state to reopen on Friday, despite warnings of a potential for a resurgence of the virus if lockdown measures are lifted too quickly. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said the state’s stay-at-home order will be replaced by a “safer at home” policy starting on April 27, with Minnesota and Montana initiating similar phased-reopening this week.
Still, some experts say that while aggressive lockdown measures have slowed the “first wave” of the coronavirus, they are warning that a “balance” must be kept until a vaccine arrives.