Trump’s Vaccine Czar Has Vast Ties to Drug Industry, Posing Possible Conflicts

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The chief scientist brought on to lead the Trump administration’s vaccine efforts has spent the last several days trying to disentangle pieces of his stock portfolio and his intricate ties to big pharmaceutical interests, as critics point to the potential for significant conflicts of interest.

The scientist, Moncef Slaoui, is a venture capitalist and a former longtime executive at GlaxoSmithKline. Most recently, he sat on the board of Moderna, a Cambridge, Mass., biotechnology firm with a $30 billion valuation that is pursuing a coronavirus vaccine. He resigned when President Trump named him last Thursday to the new post as chief adviser for Operation Warp Speed, the federal drive for coronavirus vaccines and treatments.

Just days into his job, the extent of Dr. Slaoui’s financial interests in drug companies has begun to emerge: The value of his stock holdings in Moderna jumped nearly $2.4 million, to $12.4 million when the company released preliminary, partial data from an early phase of its candidate vaccine trial that helped send the markets soaring on Monday.

Dr. Slaoui sold his shares on Tuesday, and the administration said he would donate the increased value to cancer research.

But the Moderna stock is just one piece of his pharmaceutical portfolio, much of which is not public. And some ethics and financial securities experts have voiced concerns about the arrangement Dr. Slaoui struck with the administration. – READ MORE

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