A new Wall Street Journal report chronicles the formation of a Justice League-esque team of scientists, doctors, venture capitalists and Nobel laureates dedicated to developing a comprehensive plan to fight the coronavirus.
The group, aptly named Scientists to Stop COVID-19, describe themselves as “passionate citizen-scientists” who have developed “four actionable, non-partisan proposals to produce safe and effective COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines in the shortest possible timeframe,” per a 17-page introductory document obtained by reporter Rob Copeland.
A venture capitalist and physician named Tom Cahill reportedly organized the group to help fast-track a viable treatment for the coronavirus. His connections in both the elite financial and medical spheres helped him pitch the idea of a group dedicated to developing research to fight the virus.
Scientists to Stop COVID-19, who have effectively become a vanguard for coronavirus research, highlight the steps the U.S. must undertake in order to safely recover from the virus. The group envisions the recovery in waves, the first characterized by the use of existing drugs to gain a solid foothold against the virus. The second wave will feature treatments composed of new antibody drugs to neutralize the virus.
The third wave envisioned by the organization consists of long-term vaccinations to combat the coronavirus that will offer seasonal and multi-year immunity. Simultaneously, businesses, schools and other public institutions should begin to reopen around May and June of 2020, guided by symptom reporting, testing and personal protective gear to minimize future outbreaks.
Currently, the U.S. is in the first wave of the plan. Scientists to Stop COVID-19 recommends that in this phase, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should work to coordinate with Gilead pharmaceuticals to focus on expediting the results of clinical trials of remdesivir, a drug identified as a potential treatment for COVID-19. The group also recommends administering doses of the drug to patients in an early stage of infection, and notes remdesivir will essentially be a placeholder until a more effective treatment is produced.
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Government entities and agencies appear to adhere to the recommendations outlined by the group, with the Journal reporting that the FDA and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have implemented some of the suggestions, namely relaxing drug manufacturer regulations and requirements for potential coronavirus treatment drugs.
Scientists to Stop COVID-19’s reach and influence can be attributed to the prestige of both its membership and its investor base. The powerful networking these contacts facilitated eventually helped get the group’s report to the White House Coronavirus Task Force members like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Scientists to Stop COVID-19 wrote that no one currently involved in the group has any direct or known indirect financial interest that they stand to gain from when participating in research.
“We may fail,” Stuart Schreiber, a Harvard University chemist and a member of the group told the Journal. “But if it succeeds, it could change the world.”
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