The official in charge of the Trump administration’s bid to speed up vaccine development wants permission from the White House to begin briefing the Biden transition, the Financial Times reported.
Moncef Slaoui heads Operation Warp Speed, the joint Health and Human Services-Department of Defense program to spur the creation of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
Slaoui told the newspaper that he would need approval from the Trump administration before he could reach out to the transition team led by President-elect Joe Biden.
“I hope nothing interferes with [Operation Warp Speed]. It is a matter of life and death for thousands of people,” he said.
The FT reported that, when asked if the vaccine program’s success was contingent on access to the Biden team, Slaoui replied: “I would assume, yes.”
The Trump administration, as part of its project to develop an alternate reality in which the President was re-elected, has refused to provide the Biden transition team with briefings or access to government departments to allow them to prepare to take over in January.
Instead, the Government Services Administration has refused to sign a document recognizing Biden’s victory and allowing the process to go forward.
On vaccines, it’s a particularly sensitive issue. Operation Warp Speed is developing multiple databases to track vaccine deployment across the country, and will play a crucial role in overseeing the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines once they are first approved.
Slaoui told the Financial Times that he would like to be able to brief the Biden team.
“It’s not for us to decide, frankly,” he told the newspaper.