Trump’s coronavirus vaccine czar to divest millions of dollars in stock options
The former drug company executive leading the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine initiative said he will divest all his shares in Moderna, one of the initiative’s leading candidates.
Moncef Slaoui, a former venture capitalist and executive at GlaxoSmithCline, resigned from his position as a member of Moderna’s board of directors just last week to take the government job.
However, according to Securities and Exchanges Commission filings, Slaoui still held over 156,000 stock options in the company. At the time of his appointment to lead “Operation Warp Speed,” the shares were worth about $10 million.
The announcement comes as Moderna’s stock soared almost 20 percent on Monday, following promising early results from its phase one vaccine trial.
According to a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services, Slaoui “has directed the divestiture of his equity holdings in Moderna, and that sale should be effective tomorrow morning.”
Watchdog organizations and some congressional Democrats have previously called for Slaoui to divest his holdings, calling them a major conflict of interest.
In addition, HHS 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.”
Moderna reported Monday that eight participants who received low and medium doses of the company’s vaccine had blood levels of antibodies that were similar or greater than those in patients who recovered from COVID-19. The findings suggest the potential for some level of immunity but are still very preliminary.
Moderna is working to develop the vaccine with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, led by Anthony Fauci, and has received over $480 million in federal funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.