Chair of FDA's vaccine adcomm — who's also a lead investigator of Moderna's vaccine — recuses herself from Covid-19 talks
When the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets next month to discuss the development and authorization of Covid-19 vaccines, the chairwoman won’t be there.
Hana El Sahly has recused herself from the expert panel’s review of the topic, citing her role as a lead investigator in Moderna’s Phase III trial, Reuters reported. An associate professor of virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, El Sahly was appointed the chairwoman last year.
The FDA has yet to release the roster for the Oct. 22 meeting. The vaccine advisory committee currently consists of 15 voting members; they are set to deliberate on Covid-19 vaccines generally instead of debating any specific application.
While this marks the first instance an FDA advisor has stepped aside due to potential or perceived conflict of interest, it follows two high-profile resignations from Moderna’s board for the same reason.
Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines department, stepped off once the White House tapped him as the chief scientific advisor of Operation Warp Speed. Two months later, Brigham and Women’s president Elizabeth Nabel followed in his footsteps as her hospital was set to be a site for Moderna’s Phase III trial.
Working on the broader, national level, El Sahly recently described her role to the local affiliate ABC13: “Reviewing the related documents, the communications that sort of laid the ground for the process of getting the study started.”
Although regulators are not bound to follow the adcomm’s recommendations, this particular meeting is special. FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn has spotlighted the event — which will be open to the public — as an illustration of the kind of transparency and science-driven approach that his agency is striving for.
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