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Moncef Slaoui, the former scientific director of Covid-19 vaccine development efforts at Operation Warp Speed, was fired from the board of directors of Galvani, a joint venture between Verily and the drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, over allegations of sexual harassment, GSK said Wednesday.

“Since February, the highest levels of our company have been working to understand and address what happened,” GSK CEO Emma Walmsley wrote in a note to employees. “Protecting the woman who came forward and her privacy has been a critical priority throughout this time. This will continue. I respect and admire her courage and strength. I’ve spent many nights lately putting myself in her shoes. More than anything, this simply should not have happened.”

In a statement, GSK said that it was first made aware of the allegations in a letter in February. It initiated an investigation by an external law firm, Morgan Lewis. The company said the investigation “substantiated the allegations and is ongoing.”

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“Dr. Slaoui’s behaviors are wholly unacceptable. They represent an abuse of his leadership position, violate company policies, and are contrary to the strong values that define GSK’s culture,” GSK said.

The alleged harassment occurred several years ago when Slaoui was an employee of GSK, the company said. 

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Slaoui ran research and development and then vaccines at GSK, positions he held from 2006 until 2017. He was appointed as scientific head of Operation Warp Speed last May and stepped down in January, then briefly served as an adviser to the Biden administration. Slaoui recently returned to his previous role as a venture capitalist and announced the launch of a new company, Centessa Pharmaceuticals.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Slaoui apologized to the woman who came forward with the allegations, saying he felt “terrible” that his actions “put a former colleague in an unfortunate situation.”

He also said he was taking a leave of absence from his “current professional responsibilities effective immediately” to “focus on his family.”

In her note to employees, Walmsley said she expected everyone at the company to represent GSK with integrity, including senior leaders. “We are in an age of progress with a female CEO, growing ranks of female leaders, new commitments to diverse representation, and a culture that values speaking up,” Walmsley wrote. 

“On a personal level, I am shocked and angry about all of this, but I’m resolute,” Walmsley added. “I want to be clear that sexual harassment is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated.”

Walmsley added that GSK will rename its Slaoui Center for Vaccines Research in Rockville, Md.

  • I am that fool….and hoping Sandy will have pity on men like me who are afraid to speak in the presence of women. My daughter is a scientist who was almost undone by women in her org that resented her success and discoveries while the other sex praised her. Sandy …we men and women are the same nasty folk and getting along is getting dangerous thank you .

  • A lot of people seem certain it is right to cancel this man, when we are given NO DETAILS WHATEVER about what happened. None at all. And we have no idea if the accuser is actually credible. It might be, if her name was publicized, ten men would come forward to say she falsely accused them.
    With NO details whatever, it is also not reasonable to ASSUME the proper punishment is firing – it could be he expressed interest in someone in the company and when rebuffed, dropped it – just for example – is that a cancellation offense? A firing offense? Please someone who supports his firing, tell me what line he crossed- I do not see how you can, considering you do not know what happened – but shouldn’t there be some crossed line before all this?

    IF, and i do not know details – but IF he did a good job on Warp Speed, I think he still deserves to be credited for that, and probably for that matter, ought to still be running Warp Speed 2 for the vaccines needed to fight the variants. AND still working to make medicines.

    No firings, or any action at all, should be endorsed by anyone who does not have details- rushing to agree with things you know nothing about is the action of herd animals.

    • The article says:
      ‘…fired from the board of directors of Galvani, a joint venture between Verily and the drug giant GlaxoSmithKline…’
      and:
      ‘It initiated an investigation by an external law firm, Morgan Lewis. The company said the investigation “substantiated the allegations and is ongoing.”’

      Your wishful thinking notwithstanding, this is all any of us knows.

    • “Substantiated the allegations”

      But substantiated the allegations of what, exactly? We are not told. Did she accuse him of asking her on a date but was rebuffed? And then it was dropped when she declined? (That would be no big deal, but some may say, absurdly, that technically that is “sexual harassment”)

      Or did she accuse of something much worse that was substantiated?

    • David Steele: I do not have “wishful thinking” – what do you mean exactly by that? That I am hoping he is “not guilty”, whatever that means? He got fired – I feel bad if he got fired for no good reason – and OK with it, IF it was bad enough to be fired over, In my opinion, knowing enough of the facts.
      The verdict alone, in a civil trial, or in the opinion of most people probably, even a criminal trial is insufficient grounds for being certain of guilt – at least it is conducted according to rules – and according to legal standards -though this investigation was done by a law firm, the method is not being revealed – did they allow cross examination of the accuser by his lawyer? Did they exclude hearsay evidence? Did they put up an “ethical wall” between the investigators and fact determiners? What standard of proof was used, preponderance, clear and convincing, beyond reasonable doubt? And were all considerations of benefit from false accusation and conflicts of interest put aside?
      I do not know anything about this man at all – but I do know many people advocated for destroying all members of the Trump administration after his Presidency was over -and apparently feel it is quite moral to do so.
      But really, I am just saying without ANY details having ANY opinion is silly.

    • I don’t know that we have any right to all of the details. Perhaps the victim wished to not have them shared. Whatever the reason, the allegations were substantiated per the investigation, and Slaoui made motions to own them.

  • DISGUSTING HOW PROGRESS THRU A COMPANY GOES TO MEN’S HEADS BY WARP SPEED. ITS ALL ABOUT POWER OVER ANOTHER. I HOPE MY 22 YEARS WORK FOR THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT TO GIVE WOMEN THEIR RAPE PROTECTION THAT AMERICA BADLY NEEDS WILL WIN AGAINST THE GOP LAWSUITS! THEY SO DEVOTEDLY HATE US FEMALES NATURALLY AS THEY ARE IN LEAGUE WITH RUSSIA as we are just finding out for sure.

  • He was nominated to the Warp Speed job by, oh, that’s right, Donald Trump. Birds of a feather…

    • 1) The story says he’s a Biden supporter and a democrat.
      2) What constitutes ‘harassment’ now? It must be super serious (and completely proven) if everything he’s done for the company is being erased.

  • What a difference a female CEO makes. By the way, if you haven’t seen “Picture a Scientist”, I recommend it highly.

  • What selfish predators like this guy do has a very negative baring on a lot of honest, hard-working people – of course the affected women, but also (often forgotten) many men. Men are rendered tip-toe-ing around as normal pun-intended sincerely well-meant quips and jokes are now miscontrued as harassment with dark undertones. In many ways, the behavour of rotten apples takes honest fair humor out of the work-place, as men will have to think twice before making an innocent, positively meant quip. And so should women too.

    • “honest fair humor out of the work-place, as men will have to think twice before making an innocent, positively meant quip. And so should women too.”

      IT’S NEVER AN “INNOCENT, POSITIVELY-MEANT QUIP” BY MEN…IT’S A SEX-POWER GRAB and MEN KNOW THAT, NOT SO INNOCENT. AND, IGNORED, JUST GETS REPEATED. WE WOMEN ARE MUCH MORE THAN THAT, GUYS! TREAT US AS ESSENTIALS TO EVERY SINGLE WORKPLACE, because WE ARE!

    • Sandy, you just underscored my point. Immediate accusations – no sense of humor – instant overblown defense – everything gets distorted. I definitely detest men who abuse women, but there disgusting behaviour takes away the good-old innocent no-ill-will humor.

  • What deceatful history this crook has. After GSK he was on the Moderna board, of which he resigned to become the Head of Operation Warp Speed – while somehow allowed to keep his millions of shares of Moderna. With Warpspeed he immediately allocated $1 Billion for vaccine development to ….. Moderna …. that had not a single product / drug / vaccine on the market yet (this vaccine is its very first, triple load of mRNA compared to Pfeizer). He cashed in his Moderna shares when they had sky-rocketed. Biden asked him to resign from Operation Warp Speed, and he apparently then went to Galvani – where his disgusting dark history from prior GSK years backfire. For his cruel behaviour and condoned yet exercised corruption he deserves to be charged, stripped and locked up. This guy is a user – of position, money, power and apparently also women. Good for GSK to grab this by the balls !

    • Are you sure about this? I am seeing reports on a major news network that in fact he sold his Moderna shares, he says he worked day and night, AND did not get paid, though he did keep GSK shares. The news station said he lost a great deal of money by selling them when he did, to AVOID a conflict of interest.
      I do not know the truth of any of it, just saying this major network has reported differently.

    • Checking on it more, the news reports do not really back up the claims made in your post. Though he did have a bunch of Moderna stock he did not really want to sell, he did sell it and sold it before the run up caused by it developing one of our two first vaccines here. So, your post seems to state he maxed out on it, but that is far from accurate. I note he was appointed to head Warp Speed about two months after Moderna started clinical trials of their vaccine, so though you say the company had never developed a vaccine – they HAD developed this vaccine, before anyone else. They started clinical trials in March.
      Avaccines prior to this.> Eliza

    • Peter Stuart B – My previous post got stuck and scrambled somehow – As I was saying – Slaoui apparently was criticized for wanting to hold onto Moderna stock while running Operation Warp Speed, but he in fact sold it not long after the issue was raised and did not take the big profits he would have if he still had the stock, so your suggestion of him getting a big cash out from it is misleading- also, Moderna had developed a vaccine for Covid, the first vaccine tested in the US, two months before he was made head of Warp Speed. – so your claim of them having no vaccine expertise is flat out false – IDNK if they had developed other vaccines before, but they HAD developed the first Covid vaccine here – and your implication Slaoui just funneled them money to make them a player is also false.
      Finally, it should be mentioned, I am reading Slaoui was involved in 3 previous vaccination efforts.
      I know nothing about Slaoui really – would someone else have done better? I do not know. Did Slaoui do anything unethical to promote Moderna (whose stock he did not still own and whose board he had resigned from) at the expense of the vaccine effort? I do not know that, either. But the claims you made in support of that accusation are not accurate.

    • Steve – your timelines are wrong, and Moderna was only in preliminary stages when Slaoui became head of Operation Warp Speed. He also only worked for $1 so he did not have to disclose all his other (large amounts of) shares (per the New York Times). And other Op Warp Speed advisors had special interests through shares and options in various Covid-vaxx funded entitities too :
      https://khn.org/news/article/how-pharma-money-colors-operation-warp-speeds-quest-to-defeat-covid/
      Not much is without conflict of interest or straight-out corruption in the US – where greedy types are allowed to rule and score big profits. As to his harassment charges: if GSK (of which he still owns lots of shares from a prior board-stint) cans him in no time flat you can bet there is something wrong in the behavioural department of this guy too. Sorry – a saint he certainly is not.

    • Do you know something we don’t? Please share. What I know is someone got fired because they were accused of something. I do not know what they were accused of, or what evidence there was for it. So I do not know if GSK has done something good or terrible.

  • Only a total fool would not see the double standard for politicians especially over the last decade

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