This is part 2 of a 3-part article. In Part 1 I contrasted the standard media narrative of Theranos with an alternative interpretation based on publicly available information. The implausible standard interpretation is that Theranos founder, Elizabeth Holmes herself launched the venture, defrauded everyone involved and kept up the fraud for over 12 years. In this part we’ll take a closer look at this network’s likely agenda with Theranos. A video report that condenses the whole 3-part story is at this link.
POWERS BEHIND THE STAGE
It is far more likely that Holmes was recruited to be the front-woman of Theranos while the project’s real power brokers remained behind the stage. Her real qualifications were her youth, unbridled ambition, lack of any scruples about deceiving her own employees, investors and the public, and her willingness to advance her goals over people’s lives. She also had that sense of her family’s greatness which might have enabled her to set aside all legal and ethical considerations in pursuing her grand mission. Another plus would have been her supposed fluency in Mandarin, since future health challenges were expected to come from China.
We also know that an unnamed but influential person twice introduced Holmes to professor Phyllis Gardner. The same person may have also leaned on professor Channing Robertson to admit the unqualified Holmes into his chemistry lab? Furthermore, Holmes was able to skate past the due diligence gatekeepers at Lucas Ventures Group and land straight into Don Lucas Sr’s office thanks to an introduction from some unnamed friend of her father’s.
It appears that among Theranos directors, it was George Shultz who had the most hands-on involvement with the company. His failure to investigate the concerns brought to him already in 2014 by his own grandson and Theranos lab technician Erika Cheung indicates that he was more concerned about protecting the venture then he was about his own reputation, the investment of the people who agreed to fund Theranos, the Walgreens partnership, or the health and safety of patients who relied on Theranos tests. Shultz had ample time and resources to get to the bottom of these issues and take energetic action to right the wrongs. Instead, he took action to ensure that the truth didn’t come out.
Another revealing moment was an interview between Holmes and Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittran. He jokingly mentioned that the only person missing from her board of directors was the Pope, and then asked: “How did that happen? Was it, I’m just going to write to Henry Kissinger, these kind of caliber of people who are in the public eye, but probably not so easy to ring up?” Holmes replied that, “In our case, those were people whom I had the privilege of getting to know and in many cases working with for in some cases a couple of years before we asked them to join the board.”
I don’t know how or when Holmes met Shultz, Kissinger, Mattis, Bechtel, Roughead, Perry, Boies, or Nunn. But she told us that she had been working with many of them for years before they joined Theranos as directors. OK then, what exactly were they “working” on? Most of these people were deeply rooted in the military and foreign policy establishments and none of them had anything to do with medicine, biochemistry or health care. Yet for some reason, they all decided to pool their considerable influence and raise a huge amount of capital in order to “democratize diagnostics” and revolutionize health care? They also thought the best way to do that was to entrust it to a 19-year old with no qualifications in any of the relevant domains? This all brings us to a really important question: why?
Why would anyone, and especially a group of very powerful individuals, contrive such an ambitious, elaborate and unlikely venture? What moved George Shultz to get as closely involved with such an audacious, risky venture? When Theranos was set up, he was already in his 80s with a very distinguished career behind him, and Theranos was not a simple matter of flipping some tech investment with his retirement savings: it was a complex, long-term managerial undertaking completely unrelated to his expertise. And what was so important about “democratizing diagnostics?”
But before I attempt to answer that, there is another question about this mystery. Suppose you were one of these power players like Shultz, Kissinger, Perry, Nunn, etc. You have the power to mobilize all the influence and resources in the world and for some reason, you decided to launch a venture to democratize diagnostics. If so, then why not go to companies like Siemens, Abbott Labs or LabCorp that already had the right expertise, decades of experience and world’s most advanced diagnostics technology? Why not tap the industry’s best talent and incentivize them to build your solution? Wouldn’t any reasonable person do exactly that? I believe so, and most probably, our Theranos dream-team did explore that option.
For some reason however, that route did not work for them and we can venture a guess why: probably because the response from the real blood testing experts would have been (or was) that what they were asking for was impossible. That is what professors Dr. Phyllis Gardner and Dr. Darren Saunders had suggested. Indeed, Dr. Gardner did not hesitate to say that Theranos investors were crazy to back such a venture.
THE AGENDA: “DEMOCRATIZING DIAGNOSTICS”
Given that their objective of democratizing diagnostics through miniature, ultra-versatile blood analyzers seemed impossible – a fantasy, in other words – then why would any reasonable person continue to press on with that project? Why would a whole group of them stay committed to such an unrealistic goal? Why was this venture so important? Was there an urgent lack of blood testing technology before 2003, holding back humanity’s progress? Were people dropping dead in large numbers for lack of miniature blood analyzers? What purpose could possibly justify such reckless, brazen action? Perhaps we can turn to Bill Gates to help us answer that question.
This is how we prevent the next pandemic
In a short, 2-minute video titled, “This is how we prevent the next pandemic,” published on YouTube on 27 January 2021, you can hear the world’s chief health officer, comrade Gates explain his rescue plan for when we have the “next pandemic.” “By the next pandemic,” says Mr. Gates, “I believe we can have what I call mega-testing diagnostic platforms. They can be deployed quickly, cost very little, and test 20% of the entire population every week. … To stop future pandemics quickly, we need to be able to spot disease outbreaks as soon as they happen anywhere in the world. And that requires a global alert system. … Stopping the next pandemic will be a big investment.”
So, according to comrade Gates, fighting these next pandemics will require quick, cheap and ultra-versatile platforms that can test 20% of the entire population every week. Doesn’t that sound a lot like what Theranos was trying to build? Indeed, on the occasion of promoting their joint venture with Walgreens in 2013, Elizabeth Holmes explained that, “We have an operational plan that will allow us to become within five miles from every person’s home through Wallgreens that we’ve opened and continue to open nationally.”
The explicit purpose of this infrastructure was to centralize the health care process so that diagnostics, medication and treatment could all come from the same source. Now that kind of a thing could explain our powerbrokers’ excitement about Theranos: it would be a very powerful tool of population control in the hands of those who lusted to wield it.
Theranos was intended as an information weapon
This agenda could explain why during its first 11 years, Theranos board of directors consisted almost exclusively of deep state actors: high ranking military officers and top foreign policy officials, but no medical doctors or health care experts. It also explains why the power players behind Theranos weren’t bothered about whether the technology actually worked or not: it was not intended as an accurate diagnostics tool (we already had those); it was intended as an information weapon. Unlike the PCR test which has been known and well understood by health care professionals worldwide, Theranos technology would have remained a mystery, hidden behind the veils of patents and protected intellectual property. The public would not be given the opportunity to have the devices examined independently; such checks would certainly be entrusted to reliable, Theranos-friendly inspectors.
The technology’s legitimacy would instead be protected behind Elizabeth Holmes’ personality cult. As her star rose, we were all encouraged to see her as a young genius, a successful entrepreneur, a brilliant inventor and an all-around do-gooder. We were meant to see her just as General Mattis, the Mad Dog described her: the anointed one with “the most mature and well-honed sense of ethics...” Elsewhere she was compared to Steve Jobs, “but with a kind heart…“
It is always difficult to dissent under a hailstorm of such propaganda. In an environment where almost everyone agreed that Holmes was a genius; that she was kind-hearted and brilliant, and where the narrative that she had saved millions of lives was widely accepted and believed, it would be very risky to face down the adoring crowd and tell them that the emperor has no clothes… Perhaps only a few would dare to speak up, but such lone voices could always be cancelled, ridiculed, or otherwise silenced.
In this way, Theranos technology would be able to fulfill its purpose regardless of whether it actually worked or not. It was created as an information weapon with which to manage future pandemics, convince the population that they were facing a health threat, that emergency measures were needed and that this or that kind of medication would be recommended or mandated.
New & improved versions of Theranos
If this was the venture’s ultimate agenda, then its importance for the kingmaker class went far beyond mere business considerations and its unravelling would not deter them. If so, we should expect that they would regroup and come up with new and improved technologies in pursuit of the same agenda. In fact, there’s much evidence that this is indeed the case. At this time, the health authorities in many nations are preparing to abandon PCR testing and replace it with other kinds of tests. For example, in July this year we learned that the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would buy the UK-based Covid testing company Mologic which allegedly developed a 10 minute test for Covid. We’ve also seen focused commitment among the traditional providers of blood-testing technologies to offer faster, more reliable and more widely available blood testing.
Venture capitalists’ quest to democratize diagnostics with miniature, network connected analyzers hasn’t withered either.
Abundant funding has flowed to companies like Truvian, Athelas and Genalyte, which are working to fulfil a part of the ambitious Theranos mission. Genalyte’s founder Cary Gunn has been explicit about embracing Elizabeth Holmes’ vision as valid and important and expressed his team’s intention to execute on that vision and succeed where Theranos had failed.
So, the information arms race is still very much on and the power players who brought us Theranos haven’t given up on their agenda. This is a war on – and for – our minds. If we heed the warning from Bill Gates, we must expect to see more pandemics; mega-testing diagnostic platforms might spring up in our neighborhoods, and we might be pressured to take those tests regularly and believe the results. The authorities will protect us from the frightful pandemics and tell us exactly what’s expected of us to protect ourselves and others. This could be your children’s future and it is indeed a very dark vision, but as I promised Part 1 of this article, there is a very beautiful, encouraging and inspiring side to the story of Theranos and everything that it implies. The six lessons and their implications are the subject of the third and last part of this series.
The foregoing was part 2 of the 3-part article “Theranos scandal: the REAL story.” Part 1 is here. Part 3 will articulate the most important lessons of the episode – these lessons are the very reason why I wrote this article in the first place.
Alex Krainer – @NakedHedgie has worked as a market analyst, researcher, trader and hedge fund manager for over 25 years. He publishes daily TrendCompass reports, described by one of our longtime subscribers as “super impressive.” TrendCompass enables investors, traders and hedgers to navigate market trends in over 200 financial and commodity markets profitably, with confidence and peace of mind – both in bull AND bear markets.
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