Millions of free covid-19 rapid tests arriving in Americans’ mailboxes are long-awaited vindication for Dr. Michael Mina, who, as a Harvard assistant professor, had been advocating for two years that the best way to limit covid is to identify it quickly, cheaply, and widely with rapid antigen tests so infected people know to isolate themselves.
“Rapid Tests Are the Answer to Living With Covid-19” was the headline on an October New York Times op-ed he co-authored.
The Atlantic called him “America’s biggest antigen-test advocate.” In much of the world, rapid tests are “free for people and sold to governments for $3 ea[ch] to offer to their residents,” he tweeted last May.
On Oct. 22, he was one of a small group of experts on a Zoom call to advise the Biden administration to urgently ramp up testing by purchasing and sending Americans free tests.
But three weeks after that call, on Nov. 12, Mina announced he was leaving academia to become an executive at eMed, a startup that sells some of the most expensive rapid tests.
In doing so, he joins the list of covid authorities who are both frequently quoted experts on national pandemic policy and working for companies profiting from that advice.
Other prominent voices on covid policy with industry ties include Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner under President Donald Trump who is now a director for Pfizer, maker of a leading covid vaccine; Jeffrey Klausner, a public health professor at the University of Southern California as well as a paid adviser to the testing startup Curative; and Deborah Birx, Trump’s top covid adviser who became chief med …