Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKlines vaccines division, speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15, 2020. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Trump's Vaccine Chief Picks His Own Former Employer—Where He Still Holds Millions Worth of Stock—for $2.1 Billion Deal

"You can't have a contractor supervising government officials."

Eoin Higgins

The White House on Friday awarded a record-breaking $2.1 billion contract for development of a Covid-19 vaccine, raising questions about a former pharmaceutical executive's involvement in the administration's decision.

The deal is for 100 million doses of a vaccine manufactured by Sanofi, a French drug maker, and its British partner GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

As Fortune reported:

The deal follows billions of dollars of U.S. commitments to other experimental vaccines—all still needing to show their effectiveness in testing—and may stoke concerns that other countries will be left behind. Vaccines are seen as the key to leading the world out of the pandemic that has killed about 675,000 people in a matter of months.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a former GSK executive, is head of the White House's Operation Warp Speed, the administration's program to develop and disburse an effective coronavirus vaccine. Slaoui's connection to his former company has been the focus of concern from advocacy groups and politicians skeptical of his claims of neutrality.

According to the New York Times:

Dr. Slaoui is not a federal employee, instead working under a $1 contract that exempts him from federal rules that would require him to list his outside positions, stock holdings and other potential conflicts. Dr. Slaoui said in an interview in May that he was determined to avoid any conflicts of interest, but that his GSK stock represented his retirement from 29 years at the company, and that he had told federal officials he would not take the job if he had to sell it.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) raised concerns over Slaoui's ties to GSK in May.

"It is a huge conflict of interest for the White House's new vaccine czar to own $10 million of stock in a company receiving government funding to develop a Covid-19 vaccine," Warren tweeted. "Dr. Slaoui should divest immediately."

As Common Dreams reported, the former executive's refusal to relinquish his shares in the company made the process of awarding a contract a "sham," in the words of former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub.

"You can't have a contractor supervising government officials," said Shaub.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Senate Dems Help Torpedo Resolution That Would Have Blocked $650 Million Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

"My simple question is, why in the world would the United States reward a regime that has caused such pain in Yemen with more weapons," Sanders asked after the vote. "The answer is we should not."

Brett Wilkins ·


Amnesty Scorecard Finds Twitter Failing to Protect Women From Online Abuse

"As our world has become increasingly dependent on digital spaces during the Covid-19 pandemic, it's critical that Twitter meet this moment with demonstrated commitment to improving the online experiences of all users, regardless of their identity."

Jessica Corbett ·


Filibuster Reform for Debt Ceiling Fight But Not Voting Rights or Reproductive Freedom?

"If our senators are willing to suspend the filibuster to protect our economy, they should be willing to suspend it to protect our democracy and our freedom to vote."

Jessica Corbett ·


As Senate Holds Guantánamo Hearing, Biden Urged to 'Finally End This Chapter of Injustice'

"Guantánamo is a centerpiece of the forever wars. It is a shameful symbol of racial injustice, torture, and violations of the Constitution and international law."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Unbreakable Solidarity': Kellogg's Workers Reject Contract That Would Leave New Employees Out of Benefits

"We're not willing to sell our souls for our future employees that are going to work side by side with us but not get the same pay or benefits."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo