GSK dismisses the previous chief of Operation Warp Velocity, Moncef Slaoui, for sexual harassment

Moncef Slaoui speaks with President Donald Trump about Operation Warp Speed ​​in the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday November 13, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, chief scientist in the US federal government’s Covid vaccine development, Operation Warp Speed, during the Trump administration, was dismissed as CEO of Galvani Bioelectronics on Wednesday on “substantiated” allegations of sexual harassment.

Slaoui’s termination by the board of directors of Galvani majority shareholder GlaxoSmithKline came after receiving a letter “alleging sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by Dr. Slaoui against an employee of GSK,” GSK said in a statement.

This behavior “occurred a few years ago when he was a GSK employee,” the statement said. Slaoui had spent 30 years at GSK overseeing vaccine development.

“Upon receiving the letter, the GSK board immediately opened an investigation with an experienced law firm to investigate the allegations,” said GSK.

“The investigation into Dr. Slaoui’s behavior has substantiated the allegations and is ongoing.”

“Dr. Slaoui’s behavior is completely unacceptable,” said GSK.

Emma Winsley, CEO of GSK, revealed in a letter to the staff Slaoui’s dismissal, saying, “On a personal level, I am shocked and angry about all of this, but I am determined.”

“I want to make it clear that sexual harassment is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated,” said Winsley.

She also wrote that GSK will be removing Slaoui’s name from its research and development center in Rockville, Maryland, which is being renamed. It was called the Slaoui Center for Vaccine Research

In its public statement, GSK said that Slaoui’s actions “constitute an abuse of his leadership position, violate company policies and contradict the strong values ​​that define GSK’s culture”.

“The company expects everyone at GSK to behave according to their values, especially their executives, who have the highest standards. Sexual harassment and abuse of leadership positions are strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated.”

Slaoui advised the European Union on the introduction of coronavirus vaccines. CNBC had reached out to the EU for comment.

Galvani Bioelectronics is a medical research company focused on developing bioelectronic drugs for the treatment of chronic diseases. It was formed through a partnership between GSK and Verily Life Sciences, previously known as Google Life Sciences. Verily, it is a subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

Slaoui submitted his resignation as Chief Advisor to Operation Warp Speed ​​to the then-incoming administration of President Joe Biden in January.

He was criticized for taking on the OWS role for being associated with the pharmaceutical industry.

At the time of his appointment, he was on the board of Moderna. Slaoui resigned from Moderna and also sold his shares in that company. He said he donated her appreciation during the days he held her during Operation Warp Speed.

But he had refused to sell his GSK stock, calling it his retirement plan.

GSK announced on Wednesday that Christopher Corsico, GSK’s senior vice president of development and current board member of Galvani, has been named Galvani’s new chairman.

GSK also said that Amy Altshul, senior vice president of legal, research and development, and global commercial franchises, has joined Galvani’s board of directors.

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