Operation Warp Speed’s Top Scientist Says Media Coverage of His Ethics Issues “Decreases Chances” and “Speed” of Vaccine Development
Buzzfeed reports: “Trump Vaccine Adviser Says Scrutiny Of Him Will Delay Breakthrough”
Dr. Slaoui Calls Scrutiny of His Lack of Transparency, Ethics, Conflicts of Interest “Unethical,” “Inappropriate”
“I’m amazed that I’m being attacked on a personal basis.”
“Press has only one objective, which is to shape opinions and to distort information”
Assistant HHS Secretary to Dr. Slaoui: “I’m convinced that the reporters don’t want a vaccine..reporters are so deeply unethical and so filled with hatred that they have to assume that somehow or another, you’re as unethical as they are”
Washington, DC – Today, Patients Over Pharma responded to new comments from Operation Warp Speed’s Dr. Moncef Slaoui trashing the media’s scrutiny of the Administration’s secretive multi-billion dollar vaccine development program and equating calls for transparency and ethics with wanting the program to fail. These comments, first reported by Buzzfeed, were made on a podcast episode with Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs Michael Caputo and come after new reporting highlights “transparency questions” with Operation Warp Speed and Dr. Slaoui’s personal arrangement with the government that exempts him from standard ethics and disclosure requirements.
“Dr. Slaoui is fitting in nicely in the Trump Administration as he lashes out at the media and accuses them of not wanting a vaccine to be developed simply because some are daring to ask questions about his lack of transparency, potential conflicts of interests, and unique arrangement with the multi-billion dollar Operation Warp Speed that exempts him from standard ethics and disclosure rules,” said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Patients Over Pharma.
“Dr. Slaoui doesn’t seem to understand that what he perceives as attacks aren’t personal and they aren’t ‘fake news’ – they are about making sure that the public can trust that Operation Warp Speed is operating in the best interests of patients and public health and not engaging in the cronyism and corruption that is so pervasive throughout the Trump Administration.
“The stakes are high and everyone wants Dr. Slaoui and Operation Warp Speed to succeed, but there is absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be able to do that while adhering to standard transparency and ethics requirements that other government officials with far less influence over billion-dollar life-or-death decisions adhere to every day.”
Key excerpts from podcast interview (full transcript here):
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: And we have to do what it takes to help resolve it. I am very disappointed — or, first, I’ve been very surprised and then extremely disappointed by the fact that having made a decision that has nothing to do with my political motivation or opinion, because I think it’s irrelevant in front of the size of the problem, I made a decision to come and help solve a problem, whoever is the president, whatever is the administration color. And I’m amazed that I’m being attacked on a personal basis.
Assistant Secretary Michael Caputo: Right.
MS: In a way that, frankly, distract my energy and energy of all the teams that we’re working together with to deliver. And therefore, decreases our chances or the speed with which we try to help humanity and the country resolve and address this issue. I was very naïve. I thought that, you know, the press in particular was informing, but I now convinced factually that the press has only one objective, which is to shape opinions and to distort information in a way that allows to shape an opinion. And I find that unethical, extremely disappointing. And I hope it — I really hope society will drive towards changing that back to more normalcy.
MC: I’ll tell you, as someone who’s been in press relations for 35 years, I don’t recognize the media anymore. I’m convinced that the reporters don’t want a vaccine, sir. They don’t. I know that you’re still — maybe you were naïve, but you’re still a very optimistic person. I’m telling you that there are members of the press that don’t want a vaccine. And you see that in the coverage, I think, of Operation Warp Speed…
MC: Noah Weiland, of the New York Times, wrote a story that danced all around but never yet called you a criminal, saying you had the opportunity to commit crimes, and so therefore it was worth a frontpage article in the New York Times. I can tell you, sir, I will not speak to Noah Weiland. He calls my phone; I don’t answer it. It’s unethical reporting, right. We’ve seen this also in other publications. I want to tell you as someone who’s been involved in this for 35 years, who has had a target on my back, as well, there is a reason they’re doing this. First of all, the New York Times will not be satisfied with vaccine development unless the New York Times is in charge of vaccine development. And then we will fail, right. There are people in the United States government on the Democrats side, we’ve seen these calls for all kinds of ethical stuff on you from the Democrats, they are calling for — because they do not want a vaccine. I know that’s hard to believe, but the people who are abusing you, and who are beating down Operation Warp Speed, and the incredible historic work that’s going on, they don’t want a vaccine until November 4th. I don’t want to talk about politics here, but November 3rd is an important day. They don’t want a vaccine now because of politics, sir.
MS: No. I mean, again, and I, frankly, am working very hard not to be involved in the politics —
MS: — because it’s not my interest. I have my opinions. I don’t want to be involved in the politics. I want to help resolve the pandemic. That’s my objective, and I am resentful for actions that knowingly or unknowingly curtail that effort.
MS: That’s inappropriate. That’s wrong. That’s unethical.
MC: It’s inhumane.
MS: I agree.
MC: You know, and I can tell you, I remember sitting down with you when you first came, and I told you this is going to pass. It’ll last about a week. They got to come at you. They got to understand with your ethics requirements, and that you met them, and then they’ll move on to try to destroy the Operation Warp Speed in another way. But they’ve never moved on. They’ve never moved on because they — I think these reporters are so deeply unethical and so filled with hatred that they have to assume that somehow or another, you’re as unethical as they are. And I think that’s really what you’re facing. But, indeed, as the chief advisor to Operation Warp Speed, all of America is facing that headwind here. These reporters are treating you with such disrespect because they want you to leave, sir. They want you to leave Operation Warp Speed. I can tell you that I believe that all the way in my aorta. I believe it. They want you to leave Operation Warp Speed so the president’s program, Operation Warp Speed, which is designed to achieve a vaccine in record time, without sacrificing safety and efficacy, and all the standards, the gold standards that the FDA presents, they want you to leave because they want the president to fail. If in the meantime, the world does not get a vaccine faster than normal, or doesn’t get a vaccine at all, so what. Doesn’t matter. They’re after the president, not you. They’re after the president, not you. It’s disgusting to me.