The newly appointed top adviser to President Donald Trump’s rapid-pace vaccine effort will donate proceeds from a Moderna stock windfall to cancer research, the administration said on Monday.
Promising news on a coronavirus vaccine from Moderna sent the biotechnology firm’s stock soaring on Monday – a potential boon for its onetime board member Moncef Slaoui, who was formally appointed Friday as the chief scientist to Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine initiative.
Slaoui stepped down from Moderna’s board after Trump selected him to help lead the Manhattan Project-like effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, aiming to have substantial quantities of a safe and effective vaccine available for Americans by January.
But recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show he held stock options in the company that were worth millions even before the price spiked on Monday.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said Monday that Slaoui was divesting his holdings in Moderna and it was likely the sale would be complete by Tuesday morning.
The spokeswoman, Caitlin Oakley, said Slaoui “has committed to donate to cancer research all incremental value accrued from his Moderna shares between the evening of Thursday, May 14, prior to the announcement of his position on Operation Warp Speed and the time of sale, scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.”
A longtime vaccine researcher, Slaoui stepped down from his post atop GlaxoSmithKline’s global vaccines business in 2017. Before that, he acted as the pharmaceutical giant’s longtime chairman of global research and development. He helped develop vaccines to prevent infantile rotavirus gastroenteritis, cervical cancer and shingles.
During a Rose Garden ceremony on Friday, Slaoui characterized Trump’s goal of developing a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year as attainable, albeit difficult.
“I believe they are very credible. I also believe they are extremely challenging,” Slaoui said.