The Moroccan scientist said he will quit if he faces political pressure to release vaccines without completing the scientific process.
Rabat – Moroccan scientist Moncef Slaoui, who leads the US’ Operation Warp Speed (OWS), said he will not accept any political pressure to rush an unsafe vaccine for COVID-19.
In an interview with Science Insider on Thursday, Moncef Slaoui said he will quit the operation if he faces any “political pressures to rush an unsafe or ineffective vaccine.”
During his mission as the leader of the US’ Operation Warp Speed, looking for a vaccine for the virus, Monceef Slaoui said his team encounters surprises everyday.
The OWS leader hinted that his mission is even more difficult than it may seem.
“New questions from the FDA. Or a clinical trial site that’s not recruiting. Or imbalances in the kind of populations that we want to have in the study. Or changing the geographic location of the sites because the epidemiology is evolving,” he cited during the interview as examples of daily challenges.
Moncef Slaoui tackles these issues in partnership with General Gustave Perna, who is the chief of operations and “the ultimate decision maker.”
The scientist vowed to make transparent data available to everyone, unveiling that his team is “now running phase III with 30,000 subjects —that’s much larger than for many vaccines that have been approved in the United States.”
Slaoui added that as soon as a vaccine proves safe and efficient, they should file for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) immediately, but not in advance. The November 3 election date should have no bearing on the vaccine development’s timeline.
“Trust me, there will be no EUA filed if it’s not right,” he stressed.
In response to a question about importing vaccines from China, the scientist feels that the US should be open to purchasing a vaccine if it proves effective.
“If China had billions of doses of vaccine after serving its population, we would take it. We are fortunate,” he said. However, he does not imagine this will be the case. “I believe we will have vaccines and may not be in that position.”
The US would do the same for China, he added. Slaoui heard US President Donald Trump saying that “if we produce enough vaccine to serve the United States, it will be available to others, including China.”
Trump appointed Slaoui to lead the operation in May.
Moroccan-born Dr. Slaoui has helped to develop over 14 vaccines throughout his career, for diseases including ebola and malaria.
The scientist is among the honorees of the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s 2020 Great Immigrants Awards.
Moncef Slaoui’s team seeks to make 300 doses of a safe, effective vaccine by January 2021.