Apr 23, 2020 - Health

House Democrats request IG probe into removal of top vaccine doctor

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) Photo: Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) sent a letter Thursday requesting that the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general investigate the removal of a doctor leading the federal agency tasked with developing a coronavirus vaccine.

Driving the news: Rick Bright, director of the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, claimed his removal was retaliation for his attempts to limit the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — drugs touted by President Trump and his allies — to treat the coronavirus.

  • Bright, who has also requested an inspector general investigation, wrote in a statement: "I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way."

What they're saying:

"I have been particularly concerned by the Trump Administration’s politicization of public health agencies. This most recent action, if true, further raises serious questions about the commitment of President Trump and his Administration to science and the public good as the government and the nation work to combat an unprecedented global health pandemic."
— Pallone to HHS Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm

Pallone sent four questions to HHS Principal Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm regarding Bright's removal:

  1. "Were all relevant federal laws and regulations followed in Dr. Bright’s reassignment, and did any prohibited personnel practices occur?"
  2. "Who made the decision to reassign Dr. Bright, and when was the decision made, including when was Dr. Bright notified of such decision?"
  3. "What reasons were given to justify Dr. Bright’s reassignment?
  4. "Did political considerations affect the decision to reassign Dr. Bright, including Dr. Bright’s actions and statements related to chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine?"

Go deeper

14 hours ago - Health

Medical journal retracts study that fueled hydroxychloroquine concerns

Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

The Lancet medical journal retracted a study on Thursday that found that coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine had a higher mortality rate and increased heart problem than those who did nothing, stating that the authors were "unable to complete an independent audit of the data underpinning their analysis."

Why it matters: The results of the study, which claimed to have analyzed data from nearly 96,000 patients on six continents, led several governments to ban the use of the anti-malarial drug for coronavirus patients due to safety concerns.

May 22, 2020 - Health

Update: Study linking hydroxychloroquine to increased death risk is retracted

Hydroxychloroquine. Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

Editor’s note: The study referenced in this story has been retracted by the medical journal The Lancet due to questions on the veracity of its primary data sources. Read more here.

Coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing, a retrospective review published in The Lancet shows.

Why it matters: Despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration, President Trump has insisted the anti-malarial drug as a "game-changer" and admitted he has taken it as a preventative even though the drug is unproven.

12 hours ago - Health

HHS requests data on race and ethnicity with coronavirus test results

A nurse writes a note as a team of doctors and nurses performs a procedure on a coronavirus patient in the Regional Medical Center on May 21 in San Jose, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.