New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave pharmaceutical billionaire George Yancopoulos special access to state-provided Covid-19 tests last year, the New York Times reported, following reports that the embattled governor provided preferential access to testing for family members early in the pandemic.
Cuomo approved a test for Yancopoulos—a cofounder of Regeneron who serves as its president and chief scientific officer—and a family member when the first wave of the virus hit the state in March last year, when testing resources were limited.
In early 2020, Regeneron began developing a promising monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for Covid-19, which was most notably used by former President Donald Trump when he was infected with the virus, and has since received emergency approval from the FDA.
A Regeneron spokesperson confirmed to the New York Times that Regeneron requested tests from the state after a member of Yancopoulos’s household tested positive, saying the company did so in order to ensure he was not posing a risk to this team. (Neither Cuomo’s office nor Regeneron immediately responded to a request for comment from Forbes.)
The spokesperson told the Times Yancopoulos was not involved in Regeneron’s donation of 500,000 kits for testing samples to New York State on April 1.
The admission comes after the Times Union report reported Wednesday that Cuomo also gave special testing access to family members, including his mother, brother CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and one of his sisters, as well as other influential people, such as Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Patrick J. Foye, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“Dr. Yancopoulos has directly led the company’s ambitious and successful efforts to advance a groundbreaking therapy for this devastating pandemic,” Regeneron spokeswoman Hala Mirza told the New York Times. “As an essential worker, leading and meeting regularly with his research team, and to ensure Dr. Yancopoulos was not posing a risk to this team, Regeneron requested testing from the state for his household after a household member became infected with Covid-19.”
Cuomo’s alleged preferential treatment of family members is just one of a litany of scandals plaguing the governor. He is under federal investigation for allegedly covering up the number of nursing home deaths in the state from Covid-19. His book chronicling his response to the pandemic is no longer being promoted by its publisher. And members of his own party are calling on him to resign after multiple women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against him. Cuomo is facing an impeachment investigation by the state legislature spurred by the harassment allegations, which will include a look into the accusations of preferential treatment on testing.
$1.1 billion. That’s Yancopoulos’s net worth, according to Forbes.
Early results from a clinical trial found Regeneron’s antibody cocktail reduced hospitalization or death by 70% in non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients, the company said this week.