Operation Warp Speed chief advisor Dr Moncef Slaoui tendered his resignation at the request of Biden’s incoming team, as part of a plan that would see him stay in the role for a month to help at the transition, according to two people familiar with the situation. .
Slaoui’s role in developing vaccines for the government’s unprecedented effort is expected to be diminished after Jan.20, said the people, who declined to be named because the plan is not yet public. It would end on February 12.
It’s unclear who will take the scientific leadership of the Biden team focused on Covid vaccines after this, or if anyone will be appointed to that role. There are already two vaccines licensed in the United States, and three more are in advanced clinical trials. Jeff Zients is Biden’s coordinator of the Covid-19 response, while Bechara Choucair will be the coordinator of the Covid-19 vaccine, focused on accelerating vaccine delivery.
Slaoui’s current contract includes 30 days’ notice before termination, and Biden’s team did not ask Slaoui to stay beyond that, one of the people said.
Former GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Director Moncef Slaoui, who will serve as chief adviser in efforts to find a vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), speaks as President Donald Trump listens at an event response to coronavirus disease in the rose garden of the White Maison in Washington.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Slaoui had previously said he planned to withdraw after two vaccines and two therapies for Covid-19 hit the market, which happened last month with the approval of Moderna’s vaccine. Last week he said he “decided to extend this in order to ensure that the operation continues to unfold as it did during the administrative transition.” He noted, however, that “we are getting closer to the point where my added value is more limited.”
Although the initial deployment of the vaccines was criticized, the speed of their development, overseen by Slaoui, exceeded expectations: two vaccines have been authorized in the United States with 95% efficacy in preventing disease, from Pfizer and Moderna. Johnson & Johnson’s main results on its vaccine, the first with the potential for a single dose, are expected within weeks. It was the fastest vaccine development in history.
Slaoui was criticized when he accepted this post for his ties to the pharmaceutical industry; he resigned from Moderna’s board around the same time his role was announced. He sold his shares in the company and said he donated their increase in value during the few days he held them at the helm of Operation Warp Speed.
He refused to sell his shares in GlaxoSmithKline, however, where he spent 30 years overseeing vaccine development, calling the stock to retire.
He was criticized in particular by Senator Elizabeth Warren, and responded to her in September in a video message, saying he’s a registered Democrat, but “didn’t hesitate” to take on the role “because this pandemic is bigger than any of us.”
Slaoui received $ 1,000 for his work overseeing Operation Warp Speed, which he said he planned to donate to scientific research.