The call was tense, the message discouraging. Moncef Slaoui, the head of the Trump administration’s effort to quickly produce a vaccine for the coronavirus, was on the phone at 6 p.m. on Aug. 25 to tell the upstart biotech firm Moderna that it had to slow the final stage of testing its vaccine in humans.
Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, a French biochemical engineer, recognized the implication. In the race to quell the pandemic, he said, “every day mattered.” Now his company, which had yet to bring a single product to market, faced a delay of up to three weeks. Pfizer, the global pharmaceutical giant that was busy testing a similar vaccine candidate and promising initial results by October, would take the obvious lead.
“It was the hardest decision I made this year,” Mr. Bancel said.
Your Sunday must-read is this thriller about the US government, a multinational, and start-up racing to make a COVID-19 vaccine.
It totally shot adrenaline and pride into my American veins and is a crazy-exciting read https://t.co/Ek5JxO3vNe
— Morgan Lee (@Mepaynl) November 22, 2020