Opinion | The Man Behind America’s Race for a Vaccine

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Dr. Moncef Slaoui is the head of Operation Warp Speed, and arguably the most powerful force in the mission to vaccinate America from the coronavirus. The scientist, a 30-year pharmaceutical industry veteran and registered Democrat, says he doesn’t “want to get into the politics” even though everything about the United States’ coronavirus response — from mask-wearing to President Trump’s illness — seems to have been politicized.

Dr. Slaoui says he’s an adviser with “significant influence” — not a decision maker. And while he makes no guarantee about vaccine timelines, he does stand by a commitment to quit if politics interferes with science, saying, “I can guarantee that I will say what I think, and I am saying what I think.”

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Times Opinion is teaming up with Kara Swisher on a new podcast about power and influence. She’s taking on chief executives, senators, actors and activists — plus upstarts and gatekeepers you might not yet know but need to hear from. How did these people get power? How do they actually use it? And how does their power shape your life?

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Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) has been a contributing opinion writer for The Times since 2018. She is an executive producer of the Code Conference and editor at large at New York Media. She was a co-founder of Recode and The Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital.

“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Adam Teicholz and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones. Special thanks to Jeneen Interlandi, Liriel Higa and Kathy Tu.

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