Coronavirus Cases Should Rise in May, Gottlieb Says

The former FDA commissioner, and current pension plan asset manager, sounded alarms in January about the pathogen.

Coronavirus cases are expected to rise over the course of May, says the former FDA commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, as parts of America get ready to at least partly reopen.

“You’ve got to expect cases are going to go up and hospitalizations are going to go up,” Gottlieb said on CNBC. “We don’t know how much, but they’re not going to go down.” 

The physician, who has returned to his venture capital firm, NEA, (which runs money for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System [CalSTRS]) attributed the projected spread of the disease to states looking to reopen and revive economies, as well as an increase in travel across the country. He advised that states reopen in careful stages. According to Johns Hopkins data, there are about 1.3 million cases in the United States.

Controversy swirls around the question of whether the US, or even the parts of it that are relatively unscathed so far by the virus, should lift their restrictions.

In a tweet, Chris Ailman, investment chief at CalSTRS, responded to the CNBC interview’s warning about a May virus case increase: “This is a real concern. Dr Gottlieb has firsthand experience.” Ailman also noted that Gottlieb is an asset manager for CalSTRS.  

The retirement system frequently allocates assets to NEA. Since 1998, CalSTRS has allocated $1.3 billion into the venture capital firm, according to its disclosures. In 2017, its most recent allocation to the fund, it invested $300 million to NEA 16, a buyout fund.

Gottlieb is one of the leading authorities on the COVID-19 pandemic. The physician started tweeting that Americans should prepare for the coronavirus spread soon after the World Health Organization sounded the alarm in December. 

His finance background is also solid. In addition to sitting on the boards of pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Illumina, the physician, prior to his appointment, originally made his fortune in venture capital.

In the Trump administration, this initially made him a contentious pick. As Food and Drug Administration chief, he pushed through approvals for generic drugs and also won praise for taking a tough stance against teen vaping.

Last year, he returned to his old employer, venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, where he is a special partner for its health care investments team. 

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