Sun. Oct 2nd, 2022
Two men in suits stand by a podium.
enlarge President Donald Trump listens as Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKlines’ vaccine division, speaks about the development of vaccines against the coronavirus in the White House rose garden on May 15, 2020.

The head of Donald Trump’s flagship vaccine project has called on the White House to let Operation Warp Speed ​​contact Joe Biden’s transition team, warning that interrupting his work would put thousands of lives at risk.

Moncef Slaoui, an experienced pharmaceutical director appointed by Mr. Trump to accelerate the hunt for a vaccine, told the Financial Times he wanted to ensure his project would continue to operate unimpeded during the transition.

The comments from Mr. Slaoui, whose project oversees the development of five potential vaccines, come as the president is under pressure to admit defeat and allow a transition to the Biden administration.

mr. Slaoui said: “I hope nothing stands in my way” [Operation Warp Speed]† It is a matter of life and death for thousands of people. The operation has always been about making vaccines and therapies available more quickly to the country and to the world.”

When asked if that meant the project could connect with Mr. Biden’s team, he replied, “I suppose so.”

However, Mr Moncef noted that he could not reach the Biden team without a green light from the White House. “It’s not up to us to decide, frankly,” he said.

He added: “We are focused on our goal and we are moving forward with the goal. We will achieve the goal, whatever administration asks us to achieve.”

So far, Trump has refused to allow the General Services Administration to recognize Biden’s victory in last week’s election — a precondition for a formal transition to begin — as the president’s lawyers continue to wage legal battles in swing states in the whole country.

However, pressure is mounting on Mr Trump to back off as former national security officials and Republican senators say this week they want Mr Biden to receive high-level intelligence.

Mr Moncef’s intervention comes as the virus continues to spread rampant in the US, which registered a record 150,526 new cases on Thursday, while hospitalizations and deaths continued to rise.

Mr Trump has been criticized for not doing enough to deal with the pandemic, especially since losing the election last week. Despite the rapid spread of the virus, he has not met his coronavirus task force in weeks, although the president announced an afternoon press conference on Friday to discuss Operation Warp Speed.

Mr Slaoui said Mr Trump had been a supportive leader, adding that the president had “fully complied” with his demand that the project’s work be free of political interference.

And the vaccine czar, who spent decades at drug company GSK, hinted he would be stepping down soon, adding that he sees his personal role in the “transient mission” coming to an end as Pfizer’s vaccine is on the cusp. to be approved with high hopes at a second from Moderna.

“I would feel that I have achieved most of what I hoped to achieve, with two approved vaccines. † † and the other vaccines in phase 3 trials,” he said.

Moderna could have its potential Covid-19 vaccine approved at the same time as Pfizer if they produce similar results, Mr Slaoui said.

Pfizer, with its German partner BioNTech, and Moderna are developing vaccines using a similar technology known as messenger RNA. Moderna said on Wednesday it had met its goal for an interim analysis and is sending the data to an independent data monitoring committee for review.

Pfizer became Operation Warp Speed’s first vaccine to unveil its Phase 3 clinical trial data earlier this week, surprising experts with a high 90 percent efficacy rate.

Mr Slaoui said he was “super excited” to the point of speechlessness when Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla called him Monday morning to discuss the results.

Pfizer is the only vaccine manufacturer in Operation Warp Speed ​​that has not made a direct investment from the US government, although it did secure a $1.95 billion order that will be executed if the vaccine is approved. Other major pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, have taken direct funds to help fund the development.

Slaoui said Pfizer did not need financial support, but emphasized that Operation Warp Speed ​​had helped it with logistical stumbling blocks, such as securing raw materials and equipment and planning the ultra-cold distribution network that will be needed to deliver the heat-sensitive vaccine. to deliver.

© 2020 The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved. May not be redistributed, copied or modified in any way.

By akfire1

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