Trump vaccine chief Slaoui fired from pharma board over sexual harassment allegations

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GlaxoSmithKline announced Wednesday that Moncef Slaoui, who led the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine accelerator, was terminated from the board of directors of Galvani Bioelectronics, a GSK joint venture, following sexual harassment allegations.

The company received a letter in February detailing sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct allegations against Slaoui that date back several years, to when he led GSK’s vaccine division, CEO Emma Walmsley said in an internal memo to staff. GSK enlisted an outside law firm to look into the accusations.

“The investigation of Dr. Slaoui’s conduct substantiated the allegations and is ongoing. Dr. Slaoui’s behaviours represent an abuse of his leadership position and violate our company policies, our values, and our commitment to Trust — a commitment I know is shared by all of you,” Walmsley wrote to employees.

Slaoui, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, was chair of the Galvani Bioelectronics board of directors, a joint venture between GSK and Verily Life Sciences.

He left GSK in 2017 and worked in venture capital before the Trump administration tapped him in May 2020 to lead Operation Warp Speed, its effort to accelerate the development of coronavirus vaccines, therapies and tests to market. When he accepted the job, Slaoui had a seat on the board of vaccine developer Moderna and owned roughly $2.4 million in Moderna shares that he sold off to lead the government venture.

The longtime pharmaceutical executive told POLITICO late last year that he would step down from the Warp Speed project after aiding its transition into Biden officials’ hands. The administration has since abandoned the Warp Speed name because of its association with Trump.

“I do not want my departure from the role to have anything to do with the new administration. I have more affinity for the new administration than the current one,” Slaoui, who’s a registered Democrat, said at the time. “This doesn’t have to be black and white. I can continue to be available as needed.”

He took on a reduced role as a consultant before departing weeks into the new administration.

In her letter to GSK staff, Walmsley — one of very few women at the top of a major pharmaceutical company — said she chose to write openly “because these issues are profoundly important to me.”

She continued: “Protecting the woman who came forward and her privacy has been a critical priority throughout this time. This will continue. I respect and admire her courage and strength. I’ve spent many nights lately putting myself in her shoes. More than anything, this simply should not have happened.”

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