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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

CDC director says he was not involved in decision to change coronavirus data reporting

CDC director Robert Redfield testified Friday that he was not involved in the Trump administration's decision to bypass his agency and instead have hospitals send coronavirus data to the Health and Human Services Department.

Why it matters: According to the COVID Tracking Project, data on coronavirus hospitalizations has been "unstable since July 15" — five days after the change.

Jul 31, 2020 - Health

GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi nab $2.1 billion federal vaccine deal

A Sanofi vaccine manufacturing plant in France. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration is paying GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi $2.1 billion to help the companies get their coronavirus vaccine through clinical trials, cover some manufacturing costs and purchase an initial batch of 100 million doses.

The big picture: The deal, which also includes the option of buying another 500 million doses, is part of the federal government's plan to accelerate the development of as many promising vaccine candidates as possible.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jul 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden campaign vows virus focus

Joe Biden puts on a mask after a campaign event in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign contends that President Trump's talk of delaying November's election is an effort to distract, and vows to be what a Biden aide called "laser-focused" on Trump's pandemic response.

Why it matters: After aides convinced the president that the issue was hurting him badly in the polls, Trump has tried for the past two weeks to show renewed focus on the coronavirus, including the restoration of his briefings.