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Trump Taps Former GlaxoSmithKline Exec For 'Warp Speed' COVID-19 Vaccine Initiative

By Cory Renauer – May 15, 2020 at 4:15PM

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GlaxoSmithKline's former head of pharmaceutical research and development will lead the Trump administration's coronavirus vaccine task force.

"Operation Warp Speed," the Trump administration's latest push to accelerate the development of a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, has a new leader: Moncef Slaoui, the former head of pharmaceutical research and development at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK 1.52%)

Previously, Elias Zerhouni, a former Sanofi (SNY 2.37%) executive, had been expected to take the lead role. However, international outrage over recent comments from Sanofi's current CEO regarding that company's distribution plans for its own experimental SARS-CoV-2 vaccine -- should it prove effective -- probably figured into the administration's sudden change of plans.

Physician recording blood sample information.

Image source: Getty Images.

Slaoui will serve in a volunteer capacity with assistance from Gen. Gustave Perna, the current head of U.S. Army Materiel Command.  

A group effort

GlaxoSmithKline was a leading vaccine developer during Slaoui's tenure, which ended in 2017, and he hasn't left the field. He currently serves on the board of directors at Moderna (MRNA 3.87%), which is developing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate based on messenger RNA (mRNA).

Moderna's isn't the only mRNA vaccine under development that Operation Warp Speed aims to accelerate. Earlier this month, BioNTech (BNTX 0.65%) and its collaboration partner Pfizer (PFE 0.72%) began dosing patients with BNT162, which is actually four related mRNA vaccines bundled into one clinical development program -- the companies will soon select the best version to test in a larger population.

In addition to this pair of mRNA-based candidates, Operation Warp Speed will aim to assist with the development of coronavirus vaccine candidates from Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca, just to name a few.

Cory Renauer owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
$125.67 (3.87%) $4.68
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$44.46 (0.72%) $0.32
Sanofi Stock Quote
$40.12 (2.37%) $0.93
GSK Stock Quote
$30.71 (1.52%) $0.46
AstraZeneca PLC Stock Quote
AstraZeneca PLC
$57.04 (2.68%) $1.49
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
$165.62 (1.48%) $2.42
BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
$137.57 (0.65%) $0.89

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