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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chair of the oversight subcommittee tasked with looking at the coronavirus crisis, accused the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday of concealing evidence that a Trump appointee attempted to influence the agency's scientific case studies.

The big picture: A senior CDC official who heads the agency's "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report," told Congress this week that director Robert Redfield told staff to delete an email that showed the Trump administration wanted to change language in their coronavirus findings, according to a letter from Clyburn.

The state of play: Federal employees are generally required to preserve documents under the Federal Records Act. The career employee at the CDC, Charlotte Kent, told Congress it was understood her manager's directive to delete the email came from Redfield.

  • The email was from Paul Alexander, a former scientific adviser within the Health and Human Services Department, where he demanded the CDC change language on a scientific report regarding coronavirus risks and children or "stop all reports immediately,” Clyburn said in the letter.

What's next: The subcommittee may issue subpoenas if documents aren’t provided by Dec. 15, per the letter.

  • The CDC has not returned Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.