Moderna Congratulates Dr. Moncef Slaoui on His Appointment to Oversee the White House’s Operation Warp Speed Initiative

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 15, 2020– Moderna, Inc., (Nasdaq: MRNA) a clinical stage biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients, today announced that Dr. Moncef Slaoui has resigned from Moderna’s Board of Directors upon appointment of his new role to oversee the White House’s Operation Warp Speed initiative. Dr. Slaoui joined Moderna’s Board of Directors in 2017.

“I would like to thank Moncef for his critical insights and three years of service on the Moderna Board,” said Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Chairman of Moderna, and CEO of Flagship Pioneering. “Moncef’s extensive vaccine and therapeutic development guidance were important as we continue to advance Moderna’s mRNA platform. We wish him well in this new role.”

“I am honored to be asked by the Administration to take on this important responsibility,” said Moncef Slaoui, Ph.D., “My entire professional career has been focused on development of therapies and vaccines to benefit many. I was inspired by Moderna’s vision to invest in developing a new class of medicines and vaccines based on messenger RNA. I have valued my time as a Board member and wish the Company the best as it continues its mission for patients.”

“I greatly appreciate Moncef’s contributions to the Moderna Board in his role of Chair of the Product Development Committee,” said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer. “His expertise and skills were invaluable as we approach advanced stages of development across our clinical programs. It has been a privilege to work with Moncef over the last three years.”

About Moderna

Moderna is advancing messenger RNA (mRNA) science to create a new class of transformative medicines for patients. mRNA medicines are designed to direct the body’s cells to produce intracellular, membrane or secreted proteins that can have a therapeutic or preventive benefit and have the potential to address a broad spectrum of diseases. The company’s platform builds on continuous advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing, providing Moderna the capability to pursue in parallel a robust pipeline of new development candidates. Moderna is developing therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases and cardiovascular diseases, independently and with strategic collaborators.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., Moderna currently has strategic alliances for development programs with AstraZeneca PLC and Merck & Co., Inc., as well as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, and BARDA. Moderna has been ranked in the top ten of Science’s list of top biopharma industry employers for the past five years. To learn more, visit

UPDATE-BREAKINGVIEWS-Corona Capital: Vaccine hopes, Windfall taxes

(The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.)

By Breakingviews columnists

NEW YORK/LONDON/HONG KONG, May 18 (Reuters Breakingviews) – C orona Capital is a daily column updated throughout the day by Breakingviews columnists around the world with short, sharp pandemic-related insights.


– Vaccine hopes

– Windfall taxes

CHECKERED FLAGS IN VACCINE RACE. Moderna’s vaccine for Covid-19 hasn’t even completed one lap, but Wall Street assumes it’s heading for victory. The U.S. biotech company said on Monday that interim results from an early trial were promising. That tacked nearly $7 billion onto its now-$31 billion market capitalization. With late-stage clinical trials scheduled to begin in July, there could be a vaccine by fall.

Or that’s the theory. Moderna said the initial eight patients tested produced the same or greater concentrations of antibodies that can neutralize the virus as “generally seen” in recovered patients. But it’s unclear if antibodies are key to eliminating the virus. Some recovered people have very low levels. Moreover, even though the trial was small, several volunteers had severe temporary adverse effects. It’s far too early to assume this will pass the finish line, much less take the prize. (By Robert Cyran)

EASY TARGETS. UK grocer executives and their investors could be victims of their own success. That’s if the UK government introduces a windfall tax to raise much needed cash from businesses which have thrived during the coronavirus lockdown. Punters are keen. A recent YouGov survey found that 53% of people would support a so-called “excess profit tax.”

Hitting the grocers could be harder than it sounds. True, both Tesco and J Sainsbury enjoyed record sales in March, as customers rushed to stock up on loo roll and pasta. But Tesco boss Dave Lewis recently warned the group will take a hit of up to 925 million pounds from virus-related costs, like hiring 45,000 extra staff. The government may struggle to tax online giant, which books most of its UK revenue through a Luxembourg subsidiary. Still, retailers would only have themselves to blame. Ocado recently paid CEO Tim Steiner a 59 million-pound pay packet for 2019. Tesco churned out a 635 million-pound dividend in April, despite benefitting from state support on property taxes. Such largesse will make it difficult to plead poverty. (By Aimee Donnellan)

M&A MATTERS. JPMorgan’s dealmakers have some tips for chief executives contemplating a merger or acquisition. Having crunched the numbers on mega-deals struck during the last crisis, the bankers’ first lesson is that CEOs should take the initiative. Over three-quarters of the deals reviewed began with a buyer’s approach. Second, pay up: the median U.S. control premium during 2008 and 2009 was around 36%, compared with 27% from 2000 to 2019.

That’s because equity markets plummeted, meaning CEOs could offer more relative to prevailing share prices. Still, it confounds the logic for corona-crisis dealmaking today. The S&P 500 is down just 11% this year, compared with a much steeper fall in 2008, meaning CEOs have little room to sweeten control premiums. Meanwhile, the earnings they’re buying are just as uncertain, given the chance of a second virus wave. Little wonder M&A has shrivelled. (By Liam Proud)

EMIRHAD? Dubai-based airline Emirates is making drastic turns to weather the coronavirus storm, cutting 30,000 jobs, or a third of its workforce, according to Bloomberg. It’s also accelerating the retirement of its 100-plus A380 superjumbos. If that doesn’t restore stability, Emirates could try a more radical manoeuvre – a merger with local rival Etihad.

There are plenty of impediments, not least tensions between their respective homes, flashy Dubai and staid but uber-wealthy Abu Dhabi. That probably rules out the most obvious cost-saving – squashing their two hubs, now 60 kilometres (40 miles) apart, into one. But Abu Dhabi already bailed out Dubai in the financial crisis, and it needs to do something with Etihad, which made a $1.3 billion operating loss in 2018. Copying International Consolidated Airlines’ holding-company structure for British Airways and Spain’s Iberia might spare national blushes and reap some of the benefits of flying in formation. (By Ed Cropley)

RECKLESS DRIVING. Tianqi Lithium, a producer of the key ingredient for electric-vehicle batteries, is in talks with lenders to restructure its debt. Prices for the white metal have collapsed on the back of rapid expansion of mines. China’s easing of subsidies for battery-powered vehicles meant demand was already moderating, and the coronavirus promises to delay any recovery.

That’s left the Shenzhen-listed company in a rut. Its market value is now less than the $4.1 billion it paid for a minority stake in Chilean miner SQM in 2018. Total debt will remain at nearly 9 times EBITDA over the next 12 months, Moody’s wrote in April. Selling equity and strategic assets will help, but a reset of loans is a tacit admission that any proceeds will be underwhelming in a buyer’s market. (By Sharon Lam)

White House COVID-19 Vaccine Chief to Divest $10 Million Stock Options in Moderna

05:38 AM EDT, 05/19/2020 (MT Newswires) — Moncef Slaoui, the newly appointed chief scientist of the US government’s COVID-19 vaccine development team, has agreed to divest his $10 million in stock options in Moderna (MRNA), media reported.

Slaoui resigned from the board of the pharmaceutical firm after President Donald Trump appointed him to oversee the government’s Operation Warp Speed initiative. He was soon faced with calls to divest his equity interest in Moderna, which is viewed by many is in top contention for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Dr. Slaoui is divesting all of his equity interest in Moderna so that there is no conflict of interest with Dr. Slaoui in his new role. We wish Dr. Slaoui well in this new role, and we know he has a lot to contribute as our nation – and the world – address the COVID-19 pandemic,” Moderna said in a media statement.

Slaoui previously served as chair of the vaccines division at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), USA Today said. He will not be remunerated for his work on Operation Warp Speed, according to the Associated Press.