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A small group of scientists and billionaires have teamed up in an ambitious effort to battle the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
The group’s work has been described as a COVID-19 "Manhattan Project," in a nod to the famous effort to develop the atomic bomb. It is led by 33-year-old physician-turned venture capitalist Thomas Cahill, according to the Journal.
A document written by the group, which calls itself “Scientists to Stop COVID-19,” outlines their plan to tackle the pandemic.
Cahill, the managing partner at Boston-based life sciences venture capital firm Newpath Partners, has set up the eclectic group that includes Nobel Prize winner Michael Rosbash, a neuroscientist and professor of biology at Brandeis University.
Harvard chemistry and chemical biology professor Stuart Schreiber is also a member of the group. Like Rosbash, Schreiber is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
Cahill’s connections, including billionaires Peter Thiel and Michael Milken, have given him the legitimacy to reach the officials at the heart of the coronavirus battle, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the group is acting as an “ad hoc review board” for the flood of coronavirus research, “weeding out” flawed research before it reaches policymakers. Over the past month, the group has frequently advised Nick Ayers, a longtime aide of Vice President Mike Pence, as well as agency heads, according to the Journal.
Pence is the head of the U.S. Coronavirus Task Force.
In their plan, which was obtained by the Journal, the scientists 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 plan is dated “March and April 2020.”
The proposals include a first wave of therapies using existing drugs to establish a “beachhead” in the fight against the virus and a second wave of potent new antibody drugs developed specifically to neutralize COVID-19. The drugs, the group says, would “offer a promising combination of speed, safety, and likelihood of being effective.”
A third wave of vaccines for long-term victory over the virus will offer seasonal or multiyear immunity to COVID-19, the plan says. The authors of the plan also say that the reopening of businesses and schools must use science-driven symptom reporting, virus testing, and personal protective gear to minimize future COVID-19 outbreaks and additional loss of life.
The group says that testing for the first wave of therapies should occur from April to May 2020, with use immediately afterward. Testing for the second wave of antibody drugs should take place from June to August 2020, with use immediately afterward, it adds.
The plan also calls for testing of the third wave of vaccines through March 2021, with use immediately afterward. The reopening of businesses and schools could be implemented from May to June 2020, with the measures the scientists advocate lasting until the threat has passed.
Fox News has reached out to Cahill and the White House with a request for comment on this story.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 3 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, at least 988,469 of which are in the U.S. The disease has accounted for at least 212,056 deaths around the world, including at least 56,253 people in the U.S.
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