President Trump confirms, during a roundtable in Phoenix, Ariz., that the coronavirus task force, headed by VP Mike Pence, will wind down this month.
President Trump on Wednesday tapped venture capitalist and former pharmaceutical head Moncef Slaoui to head Operation Warp Speed, a White House initiative meant to quickly develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines.
Slaoui was named Wednesday, according to a senior administration official. He was chair of the vaccines division at pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline, a British multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in London.
He is now a partner at Medicxi Capital, a Philadelphia-area venture capital firm.
Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of Bio, the biotech industry organization, said Slaoui was an excellent choice and someone who has always stood for scientific excellence.
“Over his long career, he has demonstrated a strong commitment to public health, innovation and a public-private partnership that are vital to building the collaborations we need to bring new therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines to the American people,” Greenwood said in an email.
Slaoui has a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the Free University of Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles), according to his LinkedIn page.
Operation Warp Speed is the initiative launched by the White House two weeks ago to aid in speeding production and later distribution of any COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition, the official said four-star Army General Gustave Perna has been selected to serve as the chief operating officer overseeing logistics. Perna is the commanding general at U.S. Army Materiel Command in Huntsville, Alabama.
The goal of Operation Warp Speed is to make 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine available by November, 200 million doses by December and 300 million doses by January, an administration official told CNN.
Dr. Anthony Facui, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the public face of the government’s response, has said that January might be a possible date but acknowledged that it would be a remarkable achievement and cannot be counted on.
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