Moroccan Moncef Slaoui, former head of vaccine department at GlaxoSmithKline laboratory, has been called on to lead President Donald Trump’s effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, US media reported on Wednesday, citing officials from the House White.
Professor Slaoui, who left the drug manufacturer in 2017, will help coordinate the development of vaccines and anti-Covid-19 treatments in a shared role between the departments of health and social services and defense.
President Donald Trump has called for a quick vaccine release this year as part of an effort the US administration calls “Operation Warp Speed”.
White House officials added that General Gustave Perna had also been selected to help oversee “Operation Warp Speed”. Slaoui will act as senior advisor and General Perna will serve as chief operating officer, overseeing logistics.
The appointments come two weeks after Trump announced the operation to quickly speed up production and organize plans to distribute a vaccine, which experts say is still months or years away.
Professor Slaoui led the global GSK vaccine business from 2015 to 2017. Previously, he served as a long-time president of global research and development. He helped develop vaccines to prevent childhood rotavirus gastroenteritis, cervical cancer and shingles.
He also maintains links with several pharmaceutical companies involved in the Covid-19 response, such as GlaxoSmithKline, which is working on the development of a vaccine with Sanofi, as well as serving on the board of directors of Moderna, one of the first companies to conduct clinical trials on a vaccine. The goal of Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” is to make 100 million doses of the vaccine available next November, 200 million doses in December and 300 million doses by January, said a senior official in the United States administration.