Billions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of lives are at stake:
The scientist leading the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine program will be allowed to remain a government contractor, a decision that permits him to avoid ethics disclosures required of federal employees and maintain his investments in pharmaceutical companies.
Two prominent watchdog groups as well as some Democrats in Congress had called for the Department of Health and Human Services to require that the scientist, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a venture capitalist and a former executive at the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, fall under the same ethics rules as federal employees.
And why are only Democrats in Congress worried about this? Rhetorical question, we all know why. The GOP has hitched its horse to a corrupt President, and it will go wherever he tells it to. This situation is ripe for conflicts of interest, but aside from the corrupt aspects, the end goal of securing and producing a vaccine is put in jeopardy by those conflicts:
In his role, Dr. Slaoui has significant influence over financial commitments made by the government, which has so far provided little information about Warp Speed’s resources, which agencies the funding is coming from or how decisions are being made.
“The basic idea that he’s in a really privileged position with lots of resources to command and that he has a personal financial stake in the industry is really challenging,” said Margarida Jorge, the campaign director for Lower Drug Prices Now. “Everyone can appreciate that Slaoui has expertise in the development of vaccines, but expertise and ethics should not be mutually exclusive.”
The Trump administration has invested nearly $4 billion in companies pursuing coronavirus vaccines. Last week, H.H.S. announced that the federal government will pay Novavax, a Maryland company that has never brought a product to market, $1.6 billion to expedite the development of a coronavirus vaccine.
Dr. Slaoui spent his first days on the job in May trying to disentangle pieces of his stock portfolio and other ties to pharmaceutical interests. Before working for the Trump administration, he sat on the board of Moderna, a biotechnology firm pursuing a coronavirus vaccine. He sold his shares in the company after the value of his stock holdings soared following the release of preliminary vaccine trial data.
Bolding mine. Not only has this company (founded in 1987) never brought a product to market, it has had some stunning failures since 2015, most recently just last year:
In March 2015 the company completed a Phase I trial for its Ebola vaccine candidate, as well as a phase II study in adults for its RSV vaccine, which would become ResVax. The ResVax trial was encouraging as it showed significant efficacy against RSV infection.
2016 saw the company's first phase III trial, the 12,000 adult Resolve trial, for its respiratory syncytial virus vaccine, which would come to be known as ResVax, fail in September. This triggered an eighty-five percent dive in the company's stock price. Phase II adult trial results also released in 2016 showed a stimulation of antigencity, but failure in efficacy. Evaluation of these results suggested that an alternative dosing strategy might lead to success, leading to plans to run new phase II trials. The company's difficulties in 2016 led to a three part strategy for 2017: cost reduction through restructuring and the firing of 30% of their workforce; pouring more effort into getting ResVax to market; and introduction of a Zika virus vaccine into the clinic.
Alongside the adult studies of ResVax, the vaccine was also in 2016 being tested against infant RSV infection through the route of maternal immunization.
In 2019, late-stage clinical testing of ResVax, failed for a second time, which resulted in a major downturn in investor confidence and a seventy percent reduction in capital value for the firm. As a secondary result, the company was forced to conduct a reverse stock split in order to maintain Nasdaq minimum qualification, meaning it was in risk of being delisted.
Again, bolding mine. Twice in a four year period the company's stock has done a cliff dive, which stinks of a short-selling conspiracy. That would be bad enough, but if those drops were not engineered by clever investors, it looks even worse for the company. And it looks really bad for any government official who thought they were a good candidate for this $1.6 Billion contract.