Trump Picks Muslim American Expert to Lead Covid-19 Vaccine Effort

President Donald Trump has picked renowned Moroccan-born Muslim American immunologist Dr. Moncef Mohamed Slaoui to  lead  Operation Warp Speed, America's COVID-19 vaccine program. Trump has compared this vaccine effort with the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb in the 1940s.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui

Dr. Slaoui is a highly recognized scientist and a successful leader who has delivered as GSK's head of vaccines. He appears to have more of a can-do entrepreneurial approach to solving problems. He has recently been running a life-sciences VC fund in Philadelphia.

Announcing the appointment, Trump described Slaoui as “one of the most respected men in the world in the production and, really, on the formulation of vaccines.” “Operation Warp Speed’s chief scientist will be Dr Moncef Slaoui, a world-renowned immunologist who helped create 14 new vaccines,” Trump said at a White House news briefing. “That’s a lot of our new vaccines — in 10 years, during his time in the private sector,” he added. 

Dr. Slaoui is an ethnic berber born in the Moroccan coastal city of Agadir which is famous for its beaches, according to Dr. Juan Cole of University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Dr. Cole has hailed Dr. Slaoui's appointment in his blog post titled "I guess “Islam” doesn’t Hate us After All: Trump pins hopes for Vaccine on Muslim-American Slaoui".

Dr. Slaoui is listed as an author on over 100 scientific papers. He worked for 30 years at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and for a decade he headed up its worldwide Research and Development department. He also served for two years as chair of GSK Vaccines, notes Yahia Hatim at Morocco World News.  Slaoui, a former professor of immunology at the University of Mons, Belgium, said that Operation Warp Speed will make available a few hundred million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year.

There are a large number of Muslim Americans on the frontlines of war against the novel coronavirus. Among them is Dr. Syra MadadPakistani-American head of New York City’s Health and Hospitals System-wide Special Pathogens Program, who is featured in a 6-part Netflix documentary series "Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak".

Pakistani-American doctors are the 3rd largest among foreign-educated doctors in America. Among the notable names of Pakistani-American doctors engaged in the fight against Covid-19 are: Dr. Saud Anwar in Connecticut, Dr. Gul Zaidi in New York and Dr. Umair Shah in Texas. Their work has received positive media coverage in recent weeks.

Dr. Saud Anwar, a Connecticut pulmonologist and state senator, came up with a ventilator splitter to deal with the shortages of life-saving equipment. Dr. Gul Zaidi, an acute-care pulmonologist in Long Island, was featured in a CBS 60 Minutes segment on how the doctors are dealing with unprecedented demands to save lives. Dr. Umair Shah was interviewed about his work by ABC TV affiliate in Houston, Texas.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on May 18, 2020 at 9:12pm

#China pledges $2 billion to fight #coronavirus as Donald #Trump threatens to cut #WHO funding permanently. #COVID19 https://www.newsweek.com/china-pledges-2-billion-fight-coronavirus-...

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged an additional $2 billion to battle the novel coronavirus over the next two years while the United States doubled down on its criticism of the World Health Organization at its annual gathering Monday.

"China will provide $2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries," Xi said at a virtual session for the 73rd World Health Assembly.

He also said he supported a "comprehensive review" of the world's handling of the coronavirus "after it is brought under control".

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar represented the U.S. in place of President Donald Trump and condemned the WHO's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

"There was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives," he said.

"We saw that WHO failed at its core mission of information sharing and transparency when member states do not act in good faith," Azar added, referring to China.

Last month, the U.S. suspended funding to the United Nations agency over accusations that it was too "China-centric" in its handling of the new coronavirus. He has since continued to threaten to withhold WHO funds entirely pending a review of its performance.

On Monday, Trump told reporters at the White House the WHO has "done a very sad job" in leading the global fight against the novel coronavirus. "They're a puppet of China," he added. "I'm not happy with the World Health Organization."

White House national security council spokesperson John Ullyot also echoed the president's sentiment, and called Xi's new pledge "a token to distract from calls from a growing number of nations demanding accountability for the Chinese government's failure to meet its obligations under International Health Regulations to tell the truth and warn the world of what was coming."

Shortly after Trump initially halted funds last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China had already paid $20 million in March and would contribute an additional $30 million to battle the novel coronavirus. In a statement sent to Newsweek Monday, WHO spokesperson Paul Garwood confirmed these payments but said they were "unrelated to offsetting the halt on U.S. funding."

Newsweek reported Tuesday that the Central Intelligence Agency believes China attempted to pressure the WHO against announcing a public health emergency in January, citing a report corroborated by two senior U.S. intelligence officials. WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier declined to discuss specific discussions with member states but said "the WHO has acted in accordance with its mandate as an evidence-based technical organization focusing on protecting all people, everywhere."

He denied any direct contacts between Xi and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on January 21 as alleged in an earlier report by German newspaper Der Spiegel, citing a German intelligence report.

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