Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKlines vaccines division, listens as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. Dubbed “Operation Warp Speed,” the Trump administration is announcing plans for an all-out effort to produce and distribute a coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, the Trump administration’s former Covid vaccine chief, is stepping down as chief scientific officer at Centessa Pharmaceuticals following reports of sexual harassment allegations at another company earlier this week.

On Wednesday, Slaoui was fired as chairman of Galvani Bioelectronics, a joint venture between GlaxoSmithKline and Verily, after a woman sent a letter saying he sexually harassed her several years ago that the company said were “substantiated.” Slaoui, 61, had spent 30 years at GSK, overseeing vaccine development at that pharmaceutical giant.

His dismissal came a month after GSK received a letter “containing allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct towards an employee of GSK by Dr. Slaoui,” GSK said in a statement Wednesday.

“The Centessa management team and board of directors were troubled to learn of yesterday’s news regarding Dr. Slaoui,” Centessa Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr. Saurabh Saha said in a statement Thursday.

“Centessa is absolutely committed to fostering a culture of respect that is free from harassment and discrimination of any kind and are steadfastly committed to maintaining a work environment that is reflective of our strong values as a company,” Saha said.

The company said his departure would be effective immediately.

Slaoui joined Centessa Pharmaceuticals in mid-February to advise its drug development programs, which focus on areas including hemophilia, cancer and kidney disease, Reuters reported. He had been a partner at Medicxi, the investment firm that founded Centessa, since 2017.

Slaoui apologized Wednesday following the allegations, saying he was “deeply sorry.” He said he would take a leave of absence from roles at other health companies and a venture capital firm to focus on his family.

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.

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