A highly-qualified cabal of scientists, academics and Nobel Prize winners, backed by billionaires, has banded together to research novel ways of fighting back against COVID-19.
The assembled group—Scientists to Stop COVID-19—has been working behind-the-scenes in recent months to compile an advisory report outlining what they believe to be the best ways of treating the infectious disease and restoring the economy.
The existence of the team was first reported by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which revealed its work had already been delivered to Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, and influenced decisions made by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).
The collective, being spearheaded by physician-turned-venture capitalist Tom Cahill, is benefiting from the shared knowledge of at least a dozen men and women working at the upper echelons of the scientific and academic communities.
Current team members include Akiko Iwasaki, Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine, Lynn Goldman, Dean and Professor at the George Washington University, Stuart Schreiber, a Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, and many more.
The WSJ reported Cahill has tapped connections made through his investment firm, including billionaires Peter Thiel, Jim Palotta and Michael Milken.
A report, obtained and published by the WSJ, identifies drugs that could potentially be used to treat COVID-19 and highlights American companies that are best suited to help produce, distribute or research pharmaceuticals, drugs or antibodies.
The members are sifting through peer-reviewed research to find the most promising results, then attempting to flag them to health officials and the federal government.
The 17-page report claims that none of the group members have “any direct or known indirect financial interests” in companies named in the analysis. The WSJ noted some plans appeared to be “unorthodox,” including the proposed treatment of patients with drugs first intended for Ebola in higher doses than have been used in the past.
“The war against COVID-19 is being fought on multiple fronts,” the report notes.
“We describe plans to develop therapeutics and vaccines, and to reopen our businesses and schools, that could be deployed in several waves.
“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 time frame, and to reopen our society in a manner that reduces the risk of future COVID-19 outbreaks.” They went on to detail a four-point plan.
According to the team, the first wave of therapies will be focused on the use of existing drugs, with testing during April-May 2020 and then use immediately afterwards.
The second wave will develop antibody drugs, with testing from June-August 2020. The third is the creation of vaccines, with a test timeline of March 2020-March 2021.
The fourth point, reopening of the economy, should start around May-June this year, but must be based on science-driven symptom reporting and virus testing, they say.
“It is critical that approaches to drugs, vaccines, and reopening our society be pursued and supported simultaneously,” ,” the paper stated. “To defeat this novel coronavirus in the United States, and around the world, will require a massive and well-organized collaborative effort from government, industry, philanthropy, and citizens. It is vital that we establish these partnerships and take actions immediately.”
The group told the WSJ they are aware their ideas may not be taken on board by the U.S. government or its coronavirus task force. “We may fail,” Harvard University chemist Schreiber told the newspaper. “But if it succeeds, it could change the world.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19
- CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
- Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC.
- Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
- Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.
World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
- Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
- Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
- Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
- If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
- Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.
Mask and glove usage
- Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
- Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
- Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
- Do not reuse single-use masks.
- Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
- The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.