Scientists to Stop COVID-19: The informal group steering coronavirus research to the White House

A group of a dozen top U.S. scientists and well-connected billionaires have been quietly collaborating with White House officials to implement solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Five things to know about the group, called "Scientists to Stop COVID-19": 

1. Scientists to Stop COVID-19 consists of chemical biologists, an immunobiologist, a neurobiologist, a chronobiologist, an oncologist, a gastroenterologist, an epidemiologist and a nuclear scientist, according to WSJ. The group is led by Tom Cahill, MD, a physician-turned-investor with influential ties to the Trump administration.

2. WSJ broke the news on the secret group, whose members have been working remotely as an ad hoc review board for research related to COVID-19. The group has filtered out unsound studies before they reach policymakers. It has also linked firms like Regeneron Pharmaceuticals directly with White House decision-makers to allow potentially promising COVID-19 drugs to be manufactured abroad. Their production had been slowed by FDA regulations.

3. Scientists to Stop COVID-19 have a 17-page report outlining methods to fight the virus. Some are unorthodox, such as treating patients with higher dosage of the same drugs used to fight Ebola. The group's strategy is to leverage the scale of the federal government and connections within it to fast-track ideas. Cabinet members and Vice President Mike Pence have received the report.

4. The FDA and the Department of Veterans Affairs have already implemented some of the group's suggestions, according to WSJ, including cutting down manufacturing regulations and requirements for new drugs. The director of the National Institutes of Health told people this month he agreed with several of the group's recommendations, according to WSJ.

5. Several of the group's scientific proposals are already in the process of being implemented or reviewed, and now the group is redirecting its focus to reopening the country. Some of their ideas include creating a saliva test for COVID-19 and scheduling tests for the end of the work day that can have results ready by the next morning, according to WSJ. Another idea includes a nationwide smartphone app to track whether people have COVID-19 symptoms. 

 

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