Trump selects Muslim American to find Covid-19 vaccine

Updated 18 May 2020

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Moncef Mohamed Slaoui headed GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines department, and worked for the company for thirty years. — Photo courtesy DR via TelQuel
Moncef Mohamed Slaoui headed GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines department, and worked for the company for thirty years. — Photo courtesy DR via TelQuel

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has named a Muslim American, Moncef Mohamed Slaoui, to head a fast-track programme called for finding a vaccine for Covid-19.

“Operation Warp Speed’s chief scientist will be Dr Moncef Slaoui, a world-renowned immunologist who helped create 14 new vaccines,” President Trump announced at a White House news briefing on Friday afternoon. “That’s a lot of our new vaccines — in 10 years, during his time in the private sector,” he added.

President Trump said that Moroccan-American immunologist was “one of the most respected men in the world in the production and, really, on the formulation of vaccines.”

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.”

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2020