Moncef Slaoui is retreating from the biotech industry after facing a substantiated sexual-harassment claim

Moncef Slaoui
Moncef Slaoui, the former chief advisor to the White House’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine initiative.

  • Moncef Slaoui, the former head of Operation Warp Speed, is facing a sexual-harassment allegation.
  • His former employer GlaxoSmithKline said an investigation “substantiated the allegations and is ongoing.”
  • The complaint is from several years ago when Slaoui worked at GSK. He left the company in 2017.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Biotech companies are cutting ties with Moncef Slaoui, after the drug industry veteran was accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.

The allegations stem from Slaoui’s tenure at GlaxoSmithKline, the pharma company said in a statement on Wednesday. The company launched an investigation into the claims and substantiated them, GSK said.

Slaoui left GSK in 2017. Last year, he was tapped by President Donald Trump as the scientific head of the US vaccine effort, then known as Operation Warp Speed. He stepped down from that role in January at the request of the Biden administration.

On Wednesday, GSK said it fired Slaoui from the board of Galvani Bioelectronics, a startup in which it owns a majority stake. Slaoui also exited three other firms: Centessa Pharmaceuticals, Vaxcyte, and Medicxi.

In a statement late Wednesday, Slaoui apologized and said he was stepping back from his professional responsibilities.

“I have the utmost respect for my colleagues and feel terrible that my actions have put a former colleague in an uncomfortable situation. I would like to apologise unreservedly to the employee concerned and I am deeply sorry for any distress caused,” he said in the statement.

‘This simply should not have happened’

Emma Walmsley
GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley.

In a letter to GSK employees obtained by Insider, CEO Emma Walmsley said that the company received the sexual-harassment complaint in February and that the board “immediately initiated an investigation with an experienced law firm.”

“Protecting the woman who came forward and her privacy has been a critical priority throughout this time,” Walmsley wrote. “This will continue. I respect and admire her courage and strength. I’ve spent many nights lately putting myself in her shoes. More than anything, this simply should not have happened.”

Slaoui, who has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and immunology, spent nearly three decades ascending the ranks at GSK. Then he became well known as the face of the Trump administration’s ambitious effort to develop and mass-produce coronavirus vaccines. In January, he resigned at the request of President Joe Biden’s team.

Slaoui worked at GSK for almost 3 decades

Slaoui started at GSK in 1988 as a bench scientist. By 2006 he had joined GSK’s board of directors, and he oversaw the vaccines business starting in 2009. After retiring from GSK, Slaoui became a venture capitalist, joining the firm Medicxi as a partner in 2017.

Medicxi said on Thursday that Slaoui had stepped down from his role as a partner at the firm.

Vaxcyte, where Slaoui served as chairman, said it requested his resignation when it learned of the allegations against him. Centessa, a biotech startup, said Slaoui has left his role as chief scientific officer.

Slaoui also served on the board of coronavirus-vaccine maker Moderna from 2017 to 2020. In a statement, Moderna said it “was not aware of these or any other allegations of improper conduct by Dr. Slaoui.” The company declined to comment further.

Walmsley said in her memo that she was “shocked and angry about all of this, but I’m resolute.”

“We are in an age of progress with a female CEO, growing ranks of female leaders, new commitments to diverse representation, and a culture that values speaking up,” Walmsley wrote. “I expect everyone to represent GSK with integrity – especially senior leaders.”

A vaccine-research site in Rockville, Maryland, that opened in December 2016 and was named after Slaoui will be renamed, she added.

This article has been updated with Slaoui’s departures from Centessa, Vaxcyte, and Medicxi.

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Moncef Slaoui exits biotechs after a sexual harassment allegation

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Good morning. Welcome to Insider Healthcare. This is senior healthcare reporter Andrew Dunn filling in with today’s healthcare news:

If you’re new to this newsletter, sign up here. For tips in the biotech and pharma space, particularly on COVID-19 vaccines, email me at adunn@insider.com.


Moncef Slaoui
Moncef Slaoui, the former chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed.

Moncef Slaoui, the former head of Warp Speed, has exited 3 biotech firms after facing a ‘substantiated’ sexual-harassment claim

Read more about the complaint here>>


covid vaccine card cdc
ICU nurse Megan Tschacher shows off her vaccination card.

Since January, there’s been a 300% spike in dark net ads for COVID vaccines, fake vaccine cards, and fake test results

Read more about 1,200 online vendors purporting to have COVID-19 shots>>


hot vaxx summer 4x3

‘Hot vax summer’ is coming, and it’s set to be a blissful release of pent-up horniness

Read more about sultry summer plans>>


More stories we’re reading today:


– Andrew

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White House Operation Warp Speed chief says that coronavirus variant ‘should be under control’ with vaccinations

Moncef Slaoui
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington.

  • Moncef Slaoui, head of the White House’s Operation Warpspeed, said the new coronavirus variant “should be under control” with the vaccines. 
  • “This virus actually mutates as part of its normal behavior, and therefore it is normal to expect there will be variants,” Slaoui said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
  • Vaccine companies and health experts have said that the coronavirus vaccines, should work to protect against the new variant that is believed to be up to to 70% more transmissible.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Moncef Slaoui, head of the White House’s Operation Warpspeed, said the new coronavirus variant “should be under control” with the vaccines. 

“This virus actually mutates as part of its normal behavior, and therefore it is normal to expect that there will be variants,” Slaoui said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “Based on the information shared with us by the UK scientists and early data that we have here, we think that this virus variant should be under control with this vaccine.”

A new coronavirus variant that is believed to be possibly up to 70% more transmissible was reported in the UK in late December. Since then, parts of the UK entered strict restrictions, and many countries around the world have restricted incoming travel from the country.

 

At least 33 countries have detected cases of the new variant, and the US reported cases of the new variant in San Diego and Colorado last week. 

Vaccine companies and health experts have said that the coronavirus vaccines, which started being distributed across the country last month, should work to protect against the new variant. The CEO of BioNTech said that there was a “relatively high” chance the company’s vaccine with Pfizer will work, and AstraZeneca’s CEO said that their vaccine “should remain effective.” As Business Insider’s Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce reported, experts have doubled down this vaccine will likely work against the new strains of the virus. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Operation Warp Speed’s top scientist says Moderna vaccine will ‘likely’ be approved by end of week

Moncef Slaoui
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, November 13, 2020.

  • In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Moncef Slaoui, the head of the federal vaccine initiative Operation Warp Speed, said Moderna’s vaccine would “likely would be approved by Friday.” 
  • On Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the two-dose vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use. 
  • Slaoui repeated his prediction that he hoped 100 million people would be immunized by the first quarter of next year, and said he expected around 14 million vaccine doses to be distributed before the end of 2020. 
  • Slaoui said the US plan for a vaccine works with “a portfolio of products,” and there would “most likely” be no reason for concerns for a shortage of supply in the vaccine in the spring.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Moncef Slaoui, the head scientist of the federal vaccine initiative Operation Warp Speed, said on Sunday Moderna’s vaccine will likely be approved by next week.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Slaoui told host Chris Wallace that with approvals behind vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna, he expected around 40 million vaccine doses to be distributed before the end of 2020.

Slaoui added that “we hope to have immunized 100 million people, which would be the long-term care facility people, the elderly people with comorbidities, the first-line workers, the health care workers” by the first quarter of 2021.

On Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the two-dose vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use. Moderna filed for emergency-use authorization after reporting a 94.5% efficacy rate in its late-stage clinical trial.

The New York Times reported last week that the Trump administration had passed on an opportunity in the summer to secure additional doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, which raised concerns on whether the US will be able to secure enough vaccine supply amid the pharmaceutical company’s commitments with many other countries.

When pressed by Wallace on whether there would be a possibility of a shortage of vaccine supply in the spring, Slaoui answered “most likely, no.”

Slaoui said the US plan for a vaccine works with “a portfolio of products” of multiple vaccines. Among them would be Moderna’s vaccine, which he said would “likely would be approved by Friday, probably, this coming week” and “is able to produce 100 million doses in the first quarter.”

As vaccines are distributed, public health officials including Slaoui have expressed concerns over Americans’ trust in the vaccine as a potential obstacle for achieving widespread immunity. 

A November Pew Research Center survey found that despite an increase in general public confidence in the vaccine between September and November, 39% of respondents said they would definitely or probably not get a coronavirus vaccine were it available today.

Some data has shown that part of the public’s skepticism in the vaccine stems from concerns over political interests in the US pandemic response. In one poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation between late August and early September, 62% of adults in the US responded that they are “worried that the political pressure from President Donald Trump’s administration will lead the FDA to rush to approve a coronavirus vaccine without making sure that it is safe and effective.”

“Unfortunately, there is so much politics around in the context of developing these vaccines that there’s been a confusion between how thorough and scientific and factual the work that has been done is, ” Slaoui told Wallace on Sunday. “[And] the perception that people are thinking that we cut corners or anything like that I can guarantee you that no such things have happened, that we followed the science.”

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Coronavirus vaccine czar urges Black Americans to put aside concerns about the vaccine, saying ‘nobody’s being used as a guinea pig’

moncef slaoui
Moncef Slaoui, the head of White House operation “Warp Speed” seen during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

  • Moncef Slaoui, the head of the White House operation “Warp Speed” said in an interview Sunday that “nobody’s being used as a guinea pig” as the COVID-19 vaccine inches closer to becoming available to some people in the US.
  • CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Slaoui about how the US planned to convince minority communities the vaccine was safe, given the US “has an ugly, racist history when it comes to science and medicine and Black Americans.” 
  • Slaoui acknowledged their concerns, calling them an “important and saddening situation that’s been worrying us all the time.”
  • In a recent PEW survey, just 42% of Black Americans said they intended to take the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 61% of white respondents. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Moncef Slaoui, the head of the White House’s operation “Warp Speed,” urged the Black community to put aside their concerns and take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, saying Sunday that nobody is “being used as a guinea pig.”

Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmithKline executive who was tapped by President Donald Trump earlier this year to lead the White House operation to push the development of a vaccine, made the remarks during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper on Sunday morning.

Tapper asked Slaoui how he planned to work to convince the African American community that the COVID-19 vaccine was safe, noting that the US “has an ugly, racist history when it comes to science and medicine and Black Americans.”

“How specifically does Operation Warp Speed intend to address this skepticism, especially the disproportionate skepticism in the Black community?” Tapper asked.

 

Slaoui said it was an “important and saddening situation that’s been worrying us all the time.” He said he and his team had been working within the health community to ensure that Black and Latinx Americans were included in vaccine trials, as a measure to ensure the greater population that the vaccine is safe and effective.

As Insider’s Taylor Ardrey previously reported, both Pfizer and Moderna worked to include more Black participants in their COVID-19 vaccine trials.

“That will be very important to helping us convey to the minority population the safety and the efficacy of these vaccines,” Slaoui said. “Nobody’s being used as a guinea pig.”

According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in November, just 42% of Black Americans said they intended to get a vaccine, compared to 61% and 63% of white and Hispanic respondents who said they would likely or definitely take the vaccine.

Slaoui also Sunday pointed toward the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Black and Hispanic communities, saying the US needed to “stop that.”

“It’s really very, very important that people take the time to listen to the data, listen to the people they trust that have some expertise,” Slaoui said. “Please don’t make your opinion outside of having listened to the data and experts you trust.”

He added: “When that happens I feel confident you will agree to be immunized, and that can help save your life.”

Experts have warned that hesitations about taking the vaccine could extend the length of the pandemic, as Business Insider previously reported. Slaoui also said Sunday the vaccine for COVID-19 could be available to some in the US by the end of this week.

Read the original article on Business Insider