The former pharmaceutical executive who led the White House coronavirus vaccine effort divested from vaccine developer Moderna Inc., a biotech company, said Monday after initial test results sent its stock surging.
Moncef Slaoui resigned from the board of directors of Moderna when the Trump administration last week tapped him to be the main adviser to Operation Warp Speed, a push to develop and distribute vaccines to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. But he still has stock options for about 156,000 shares in Moderna; based on Friday’s closing prices, they are worth around $ 10 million.
Moderna is one of the companies that developed a potential vaccine for the virus, and in April the federal government agreed to give it up to $ 483 million to speed up the process.
Because the role of Slaoui’s new White House involves weighing in which the company’s efforts must receive federal support, concerns about conflicts of interest arise. Patient advocacy group and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Called on Slaoui last week to extract financials from company assets.
Then Moderna announced promising results from an initial vaccine trial. Its shares jumped 20% on Monday.
Moderna told the Los Angeles Times at noon that Slaoui “divested all of his shares” in the company so that there would not be a conflict of interest. It did not respond to follow-up questions asking about the time of divestment.
Slaoui did not respond to requests for comments sent via LinkedIn.
According to Washington Post, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that Slaoui’s divestment would take effect on Tuesday morning and that he would contribute to the cancer research the value of the options obtained since before the White House role was announced.
Slaoui has been a member of the Moderna council since 2017. Previously he led the vaccine division at GlaxoSmithKline.