The United States does not have a plan to distribute a vaccine for the coronavirus "in a fair and equitable manner" when one becomes available, Rick Bright, a former health official ousted from his position last month, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday.

Why it matters: Bright, who led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, cautioned that because one company cannot produce enough vaccine for the country, supply will be limited.

What he's saying: "We need to have a plan in place now to make sure that we can not only fill that vaccine, make it, distribute it, but administer it in a fair and equitable plan," he said.

  • Bright criticized the federal government's chaotic rollout of the coronavirus therapy drug remdesivir, which has been shown to help patients recover from the coronavirus more quickly than patients who receive no treatment.
  • "We have limited doses, and we haven't scaled-up production. And we don't have a plan on how to fairly and equitably distribute [remdesivir]."

The big picture: Bright said a vaccine may become available by "this fall, winter, or maybe even next spring." But he cautioned that the 12 to 18 month timeline that has been touted by some in the Trump administration is an "aggressive schedule."

Go deeper: The race to make vaccines faster

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Aug 8, 2020 - Health

Poll: 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine

A trial COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Silvio Avila/AFP via Getty Images

35% of Americans say they would refuse a coronavirus vaccine, even if it was free, approved by the Food and Drug Administration and available immediately, according to a Gallup poll released Friday.

The big picture: Health experts believe a vaccine — coupled with recommended public health measures — will be the path back to societal normalcy. But that outcome relies on a critical mass getting the vaccine so that the population can achieve herd immunity.

Updated 38 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 19,778,566— Total deaths: 729,768 — Total recoveries — 12,044,654Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,044,69 — Total deaths: 162,938 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on unemployment — Mnuchin says Trump executive orders were cleared by Justice Department.
  4. States: New York reports lowest rate of positive coronavirus test results since pandemic began
  5. Public health: Ex-FDA head: U.S. will "definitely" see 200,000 to 300,000 virus deaths by end of 2020. 
  6. Schools: Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral — How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on.
Updated 24 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans and Democrats react to Trump's coronavirus aid action

President Trump speaks to workers at a manufacturing facility in Clyde, Ohio, on Thursday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing President Trump Saturday night for taking executive action on coronavirus aid, with Democratic leaders demanding the GOP return to negotiations after stimulus package talks broke down a day earlier.

Why it matters: Trump could face legal challenges on his ability to act without congressional approval, where the constitutional power lies on federal spending. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was the most vocal Republican critic, saying in a statement: "The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop."