Operation Warp Speed Chief Advisor Dr. Moncef Slaoui has sent his resignation at the request of the incoming Biden team under a plan that sees him remain in the role for a month to help with the transfer, according to two people familiar with the situation.
Slaoui’s role, which leads the vaccine development to the unprecedented government effort, is expected to diminish after January 20, said the people, who refused to be named because the plan is not yet public. It would end on February 1
It is not clear who will take the scientific lead for the Biden team focusing on Covid vaccines after that, or whether anyone will be appointed to that role. There are already two vaccines approved in the United States with a further three in late-stage clinical trials. Jeff Zients will be Biden’s coordinator for the Covid-19 response, while Bechara Choucair will be the Covid-19 vaccine coordinator, focusing on faster vaccination.
Slaoui’s current contract includes 30 days notice before termination, and the Biden team has not asked Slaoui to stay past it, one of the people said.
Former GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical director Moncef Slaoui, who will serve as chief adviser on efforts to find a vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, speaks as President Donald Trump listens during a coronavirus disease response event at Rose Garden at the White House in Washington.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Slaoui had previously said he planned to resign after two vaccines and two treatments for Covid-19 reached the market, which happened last month with the approval of Moderna’s vaccine. Last week, he said he “decided to expand it to ensure the operation continues to perform the way it has done through the transition to administration.” However, he noted that “we are approaching the point where my value added is more limited.”
Although the initial rollout of the vaccine has been criticized, the pace of their development, which Slaoui overlooked, exceeded expectations: two vaccines are approved in the United States with 95% efficacy for disease prevention from Pfizer and Moderna. Pivotal results from Johnson & Johnson on the vaccine, the first to offer the potential for a single dose, are expected within a few weeks. It was the fastest vaccine development in history.
Slaoui was criticized when he took the job for his ties to the pharmaceutical industry; he resigned from the board of Moderna around the same time as his role was announced. He sold his shares in the company, saying he donated their value added over the few days he held them while at the helm of Operation Warp Speed.
However, he refused to sell his shares in GlaxoSmithKline, where he spent 30 years monitoring vaccine developments, calling the stock his pension.
He was particularly criticized by Senator Elizabeth Warren and responded to her in a video message in September, saying he is a registered Democrat but “did not hesitate” to take the role “because this pandemic is bigger than any of us . “
Slaoui was paid $ 1,000 for his work overseeing Operation Warp Speed, which he said he planned to donate to scientific research.