May 13, 2020 / 8:36 PM / 20 days ago

Trump to tap ex-Glaxo exec, U.S. general for coronavirus vaccine effort

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak response press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump is expected to tap a former GlaxoSmithKline executive and a U.S. general to spearhead the government’s effort at developing a coronavirus vaccine on an accelerated schedule, officially called “Operation Warp Speed,” an administration official said on Wednesday.

The former head of Glaxo’s vaccines division, Moncef Slaoui, will serve as chief adviser on the operation and U.S. General Gustav Perna will act as its chief operating officer. Trump previously said he would be the top boss on the effort to develop, test and produce on a shortened timeline a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic.

The White House has set a target of having 300 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020. No such vaccine for this pathogen has been approved though a number are under development, and producing and distributing an effective vaccine are seen as key steps to jumpstarting the U.S. economy.

When Slaoui retired nearly three years ago from the drugmaker, its vaccines unit had 15 products in development, including one for Ebola, another killer virus. Slaoui then went on to join Medicxi, a biotech venture capital firm.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Tim Ahmann; Writing by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio

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