Trump Taps Pharma Exec For Vaccine Czar, Creating Blatant Conflict of Interest

Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program

Note: Multiple media reports suggest that the White House will tap Moncef Slaoui, who formerly ran GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines program, to head “Operation Warp Speed,” a Trump administration initiative intended to accelerate vaccine development. Bloomberg reports that Slaoui sits on the boards of multiple corporations pursuing coronavirus vaccines. Slaoui has previously denied he was considering the role, telling Politico on Monday, “I’m the same venture capitalist you talked to last week.”

Slaoui needs to prove that he is not – in his words – the same pharma venture capitalist he was last week.

Slaoui’s blatant financial conflicts of interest disqualify him for the role of vaccine czar, unless he commits immediately to global vaccine access conditions over the obvious profit interests of the corporations he serves.

If the Trump administration approaches vaccine development as it has COVID-19 prevention, testing and treatment, the world may be in for years of more extraordinary pain. The dangers of global vaccine rationing are profound. No one corporation has the capacity to deliver a vaccine to all the world’s people.

The U.S. government must commit to sharing clinical trial data, patents and know-how among manufacturers and with the world, to quickly achieve the mountainous scale of production that humanity needs.