The head of the US government program tasked with getting the country vaccines said he will probably quit by early next year — before most Americans can get a shot

  • The head of Operation Warp Speed, the US government’s program to help develop and roll out a COVID-19 vaccine to the country, said he may leave the position before the point when most Americans would be vaccinated.
  • Moncef Slaoui, told Politico that he could step down from the position “by the end this year or early next year.”
  • Ordinary Americans would likely not have access to coronavirus vaccines until around April 2021.
  • Slaoui said he was close to what he wanted to achieve with getting vaccines and drugs authorized, and that he always viewed his role as temporary.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The official in charge of the US government program tasked with helping develop and roll out a vaccine for the country has said that he may leave his role before the point when most Americans would be vaccinated.

Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific advisor to Operation Warp Speed, told Politico that he could step down from the position “by the end this year or early next year.”

Companies developing coronavirus vaccines have reported positive results in their late-stage trials, and could start distributing doses to Americans and other countries at the end of this year.

But most Americans would not be vaccinated until later in 2021  — which is when Slaoui may have left his role.

As Business Insider’s Aria Bendix previously reported, around 70 million to 80 million people could be vaccinated across the US by the end of February 2021 if the vaccines all get the right approvals.

The people vaccinated at this stage would likely be priority groups like healthcare workers and vulnerable people, and the vaccines could become available to the general population by April.

This graph shows that timeline:

vaccine2x1

Yuqing Liu/Business Insider

Vaccine makers have said that actually making enough vaccines and getting them to people will have its own host of challenges even after the vaccine is created and approved.

They also said that countries need to be ready with enough infrastructure for people to be able be vaccinated quickly.

Operation Warp Speed has helped fund the manufacturing of vaccine candidates, and aims to accelerate the delivery of vaccines across the country.

Slaoui told Politico that he was close to what he wanted to achieve in his role, which is two authorized coronavirus vaccines and two authorized coronavirus drugs.

He said that he always thought of his role with Operation Warp Speed as being temporary, and that he was not as necessary to the program as manufacturing speeds up. 

“The way I look at it is: Am I adding value or no?” he said.

Slaoui added that his leaving is not a reaction to the Biden presidency. Politico also noted that he is a registered Democrat.

“I do not want my departure from the role to have anything to do with the new administration. I have more affinity for the new administration than the current one,” he said.

“This doesn’t have to be black and white. I can continue to be available as needed.”

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