Major Columbia donor found to have received early preferential access to COVID-19 testing
A New York Times investigation last week found that George Yancopoulos, CC ’80, GSAS ’86, VP&S ’87, received exclusive, preferential access to COVID-19 testing during the first wave of the pandemic, when testing supplies were critically limited and cases were surging in New York. Yancopoulos is the president of the pharmaceutical company Regeneron and a major Columbia donor,
Yancopoulos received tests from his company after a member of his household was thought to have been infected with COVID-19, and New York state officials authorized at-home testing for Yancopoulos and his family in March 2020. At the time, testing in New York was severely limited, with about 6,000 tests conducted per day across the entire state. In Morningside Heights and West Harlem, testing has remained inaccessible to residents as recently as December, when another wave of the pandemic raised concerns about the lack of testing sites in the 10031 Zone Improvement Plan code.
The discovery that Yancopoulos and his family received early access to tests marks the first known case of the state authorizing severely limited testing resources to someone with commercial ties to state officials.