Moncef Slaoui, the former scientific director of COVID-19 vaccine development atduring the Trump administration, has been fired from a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline over allegations of sexual harassment, the drugmaker said Wednesday.
GSK became aware of the claims against Slaoui in February and hired an outside law firm, Morgan Lewis, to investigate, the company announced. The probe "substantiated the allegations and is ongoing," GSK stated. The behavior "occurred several years ago when he was an employee of GSK," the company said in a statement.
Slaoui is being ousted from his seat as chairman of the board of Galvani Bioelectronics, a joint venture between GSK and Verily Life Sciences. The medical research company is focused on the development of bioelectronic medicines to treat chronic illness.
"Dr. Slaoui's behaviors are wholly unacceptable," GSK said. "They represent an abuse of his leadership position, violate company policies and are contrary to the strong values that define GSK's culture."
Slaoui expressed "deep regret" in acknowledging his termination. "I have the utmost respect for my colleagues and feel terrible that my actions have put a former colleague in an uncomfortable situation," he said in an emailed statement to CBS MoneyWatch. "I would like to apologize unreservedly to the employee concerned," said Slaoui, who added he would be taking a leave of absence to focus on his family.
Appointed as scientific head of Operation Warp Speed by then-President Donald Trump last May, Slaoui left that role in January and briefly worked as an adviser to the Biden Administration.
He recently told CBS's Face the Nation that he had no regrets about working with the Trump administration, but viewed as a large mistake turning a public health issue into a political one. "Many people have probably died or suffered because the whole situation became so political that emotions overtook rationality," Slaoui said. "The one thing that counts is we have vaccines and I'm glad I was part of the team to help deliver that."
Slaoui worked for GSK for nearly 30 years, and from 2006 to 2017 oversaw research and development and later coronavirus vaccines.
He recently launched a new company, Centessa Pharmaceuticals.