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Scientific lead of Operation Warp Speed resigns at request of Biden team, will help with transition

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, operation warp speed, vaccines, coronavirus
Posted at 1:20 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 13:21:45-05

The chief scientific adviser to the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed has submitted his resignation at the request of the incoming Biden administration, according to multiple reports.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui will remain in place for another month to help with the transition to Biden’s team, with his last day being around February 12. On a call with reporters last week, Slaoui said he had been in communication with the Biden team and was asked to take on a consultant role when the transition happens, according to CNN.

At this time, it is not clear who will take over as the scientific lead for Biden’s team focused on COVID-19 vaccines, or if that position will remain. Jeff Zients has been named as Biden’s COVID-19 response coordinator and Bechara Choucair named COVID-19 vaccine coordinator. Both will be focused on speeding up vaccinations.

Slaoui had previously said he planned on stepping down after two vaccines and two therapies for COVID-19 had reached the market, which happened in December.

He noted last week that he decided to stay on longer to ensure that the “operation continues to perform the way it has performed through the transition of administration,” and acknowledging “we’re getting close to the point where my value add is more limited.

Slaoui had initially been criticized when he took the role in early 2020 because of his close ties to the pharmaceutical industry. He had been on the board of Moderna and resigned after taking the role with Operation Warp Speed, and he worked at GlaxoSmithKline for 30 years.

He was reportedly paid just $1,000 for his work overseeing Operation Warp Speed, according to CNBC, which Slaoui has said he planned to donate to scientific research.