Documents Reveal Potential Unresolved Conflicts of Interest Among Top Operation Warp Speed Advisors
Washington, D.C. (Sept. 22, 2020) – Yesterday, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent a letter to David S. Harris, President and Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Decision Vectors (ADV), urging compliance with the Select Subcommittee’s earlier requests and releasing new documents showing significant financial conflicts of interest among top advisors of Operation Warp Speed that, if not resolved, could bias the Administration’s vaccine development process.
“Documents recently obtained by the Select Subcommittee have heightened concerns that these advisors may have significant undisclosed financial conflicts of interest that, contrary to the Administration’s public statements, have not been adequately addressed,” Chairman Clyburn wrote. “These documents highlight the need for full cooperation with the Select Subcommittee’s inquiry so Congress and the American people can understand the full scope of potential conflicts of interest in Operation Warp Speed, what steps have been taken to address them, and whether additional actions are needed.”
Contrary to the Administration’s previous claims, documents obtained by the Select Subcommittee show that several consultants, including Operation Warp Speed Chief Advisor Dr. Moncef Slauoi, may have unresolved conflicts of interest.
These documents raise questions about Dr. Slaoui’s investment in GlaxoKlineSmith, a company that is developing a coronavirus vaccine and has been selected by Operation Warp Speed for federal investment. The Administration previously stated that Dr. Slaoui is required to “donate any increase in the value” of these holdings to the National Institutes of Health, but a document obtained by the Subcommittee makes clear that Dr. Slaoui is not obligated to make this donation during his lifetime. Instead he can postpone any donation until after the “last death” of Dr. Slaoui or his spouse.
This document, dated May 16, 2020, also shows Dr. Slaoui holds securities in Lonza Group, a biotechnology company that entered into a ten-year agreement in May 2020 to manufacture Moderna’s experimental coronavirus vaccine. Dr. Slaoui previously announced his resignation from the Lonza board of directors but his securities had not been publicly disclosed.
The documents released by the Select Subcommittee also show that three other consultants working on Operation Warp Speed—Dr. Carlo de Notaristefani, Dr. William Erhardt, and Dr. Rachel Harrigan—have financial interests in companies producing coronavirus vaccines, treatments, or diagnostics that have not previously been publicly disclosed in connection with Operation Warp Speed. These documents, dated May 28, 2020, show:
· Both Dr. Erhardt and Dr. Harrigan reported holdings in Pfizer, which has been developing a coronavirus vaccine since at least March 2020. In July 2020, the federal government placed an order, worth approximately $1.95 billion, for 100 million doses of Pfizer’s experimental coronavirus vaccine.
· Dr. Erhardt listed holdings in Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., a leading diagnostics manufacturer, that has received millions of dollars from the federal government for coronavirus testing materials, PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals, which has initiated at least two clinical trials of drugs that may be used to treat coronavirus patients, and Incyte Pharmaceuticals, which is working with the Food and Drug Administration to conduct a study of its flagship product, Jakafi, in patients with cytokine storm associated with the coronavirus.
· Dr. de Notaristefani listed a financial interest in Teva Pharmaceuticals, which has been involved in manufacturing at least one drug, hydroxychloroquine, that has been studied as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.
The Administration appears to have allowed these advisors to keep these holdings, along with any profits, by certifying that “the Government has determined” the companies “are not involved in vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostic products developed to combat pandemic COVID-19,” despite clear evidence to the contrary.
The letter continued: “Despite the gravity of these concerns, Advanced Decision Vectors LLC (ADV) has refused to cooperate with the Select Subcommittee’s requests.” It added, “[G]iven the strong public interest in addressing potential conflicts of interest among individuals leading the Administration’s vaccine development initiative, it is imperative that the Subcommittee receive the information it needs to conduct this investigation without further delay.”
In the letter, Chairman Clyburn offered ADV another opportunity to comply voluntarily before the Select Subcommittee considers compulsory process. The letter requests that the company indicate whether they will voluntarily cooperate with the Select Subcommittee’s requests by September 25, 2020.
On August 13, 2020, the Select Subcommittee sent letters to HHS, Dr. Slaoui, and ADV seeking documents on potential conflicts of interest in Operation Warp Speed, as well as the Administration’s process to select vaccine candidates for investment through this initiative.
Click here to read yesterday’s letter to Mr. Harris.
Click below to read the documents released by the Select Subcommittee: