Chief scientist of US Vaccine program cannot be forced to disclose outside positions, stock holdings, other potential conflicts of interest, says H.H.S.

Unveiling Effort To Speed COVID-19 Vaccine, Trump Says, 'Vaccine ...

Days, after maverick POTUS Donald Trump tweeted Biotech firm Moderna Inc’s experimental vaccine for COVID-19, showed it is safe and provoked immune responses in all 45 health volunteers, his administration has ensured the scientists involved in the mission are protected. Dr Moncef  Mohamed Slaoui, 60, the chief adviser for the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine program, can remain a government contractor thus shielding him from disclosure rules mandatory for the federal employees. The scientist engaged in the coronavirus vaccine program will be allowed to remain as a government contractor, reports The New York Times. The decision will help him avoid ethics disclosures required of federal employees and maintain his investments in pharmaceutical companies. Two watchdog groups and some Democrats in Congress had opined that  Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a venture capitalist and a former executive at the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, is under the same ethics rules at par with other federal employees. The office of the inspector general at Health and Human Services (H.H.S)  rejected their plea saying such a shift is not needed in view of the unusual role that Dr. Slaoui was playing in the administration amid the pandemic. Dr. Slaoui is working on a contract that pays him $1. Under the arrangement and hence, he is exempt from federal disclosure rules that would require him to list his outside positions, stock holdings and other potential conflicts of interest, says The New York Times. Dr Slaoui is a Moroccan-born Belgian-American researcher and former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines department. He worked at the company for thirty years and retired three years ago.US media say  President Trump handpicked Dr Slaoui three months ago to head his Operation Warp Speed initiated by the  White House to expedite a coronavirus vaccine. Along with Gen. Gustave F. Perna, Dr Slaoui has set up temporary offices on the seventh floor of the Department of Health and Human Services to assemble plans to test new vaccines. As per his biodata, Dr Slaoui is a molecular biologist and immunologist and was chairman of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies before retirement.

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