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Senate Health Committee hears virtual testimony on May 12. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A top vaccine doctor who was ousted from his position in April is expected to testify Thursday that the Trump administration was unprepared for the coronavirus, and that the U.S. could face the "darkest winter in modern history" if it doesn't develop a national coordinated response, according to prepared testimony first obtained by CNN.

The big picture: Rick Bright, the former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), will tell Congress that leadership at the Department of Health and Human Services ignored his warnings in January, February and March about a potential shortage of medical supplies.

  • He will testify that HHS "missed early warning signals" and "forgot important pages from our pandemic playbook" early on — but that "for now, we need to focus on getting things right going forward."
  • Bright's testimony also reiterates claims from a whistleblower report he filed last week that alleges he was ousted over his attempts to limit the use of hydroxychloroquine — an unproven drug touted by President Trump — to treat the coronavirus.

What he's saying: Bright will testify he urged HHS to ramp up production of
masks, respirators and medical supplies as far back as January. Those warnings were dismissed, Bright says, and he was "cut out of key high-level meetings to combat COVID-19."

  • "I continue to believe that we must act urgently to effectively combat this deadly disease. Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities."

Bright will call for a national strategy to combat the virus, including "tests that are accurate, rapid, easy to use, low cost, and available to everyone who needs them."

  • "Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be darkest winter in modern history."

Read Bright's prepared statement.

Go deeper

What's needed to prevent a COVID-flu nightmare

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With the flu season just around the corner, medical experts are worried about the likelihood of battling a COVID-19 pandemic and the influenza season at the same time.

The big picture: There are two main scenarios: a winter from hell with overwhelmed hospitals, unknown effects from virus co-infections, misdiagnoses resulting in wrong treatments, and a surge in deaths, or a flu season mitigated by COVID-19 measures and other steps people still have time to take.

Aug 21, 2020 - Health

Hospitals still suing patients in coronavirus hotspots

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As millions of Americans lost their jobs and fell sick with the coronavirus this summer, hospitals in some of the hardest-hit states were getting back to the business of suing their patients.

Why it matters: The Americans least likely to be able to pay their medical bills are the same people who are vulnerable to the virus and its economic fallout.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."