Trump chooses Muslim to lead efforts to find corona vaccine

By: News Desk      Published: 10:37 AM, 17 May, 2020
Trump chooses Muslim to lead efforts to find corona vaccine

US President Donald Trump has unveiled a new team and a new plan to drastically speed up the effort to find and distribute a vaccine for the coronavirus. "It’s called Operation Warp Speed. That means big and that means fast," Trump said.

Declaring progress in a search for the vaccine, the president and his team announced a new initiative, backed by $10 billion and the collaborative efforts of top scientists and researchers — including those currently monitoring clinical trials, some that have been underway since January.

Moncef Mohamed Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division, was chosen to lead the effort. “I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine, and these data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020,” Slaoui said. “We will do the best we can, the best we can, to do that.”

They're using the military to ensure rapid deployment of the vaccine, once it's ready.

"One of the great advantages that we have as a military is our ability to do logistical and sustainment operations afar," said General Gustave Perna, the commander of the United States Army Material Command.

We’re just going to apply those capabilities to this mission. This mission is about defeating the enemy. We will defeat the enemy. Why? Because winning matters.

The president said the country will save years if this is all done properly. But pressure is growing as protests get louder and financial losses get bigger. New retail numbers show that overall sales plunged by 16% in April —the biggest drop on record.

Trump said 'Operation Warp Speed' is currently evaluating 14 possible vaccine candidates and said the US is working with other countries to improve chances of speeding up the process.

Born in 1959 in Agadir, Morocco, Dr Slaoui headed GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines department and worked for the company for thirty years. His sister died at a young age from whooping cough.

After graduating from Mohammed V High School in Casablanca, Dr Slaoui studied biological sciences in Belgium and also took postgraduate courses at Harvard Medical School and the Tufts University School of Medicine. He has published more than 100 scientific papers and is a member of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative’s board of directors.

“I’ve very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine,” said Dr Slaoui while introducing the programme at the White House briefing. “This data made me feel even more confident that we’ll be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020.”