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Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The whistleblower complaint filed by former Health and Human Services official Rick Bright includes email chains that illuminate the administration's push to use chloroquine — an unproven drug that President Trump has repeatedly touted.

The state of play: In a March 17 email, HHS official Joe Hamel described chloroquine as "not a blockbuster drug for this fight, but a good drug."

  • Chris Houchens, an official in Bright's former office, known as BARDA, warned of "safety liabilities associated with the drug," but also said "the potential benefit outweighs the risk, especially when we have few/no options."

The Food and Drug Administration has only signed off on emergency use of hydroxychloroquine in hospitals, but Assistant Secretary of Health Brett Giroir said on April 5 it "needs to go to pharmacies as well," according to emails included in the complaint.

  • "The drug is approved and therefore can be prescribed as per doctor’s orders. That is a FINAL ANSWER," he wrote, saying that the FDA's emergency authorization "matters not."
  • Giroir and other HHS officials discussed an effort "to flood NY and NJ with treatment courses" of hydroxychloroquine in an email chain on April 4, citing a "WH call."

The other side: HHS declined to respond to any specifics in the complaint.

Go deeper

Aug 14, 2020 - Health

California passes 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases

A healthcare worker in Los Angeles handling a coronavirus test on. Aug 11. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California reported almost 8,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the state's tally to more than 600,000 since the pandemic began, according to the state's Department of Public Health.

Why it matters: California is the first state to surpass the 600,000-case milestone. It also reported 188 deaths associated with the virus on Friday, bumping its total to almost 11,000 — the third-highest death toll in the U.S. behind New York and New Jersey, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Aug 14, 2020 - World

Spain introduces new coronavirus restrictions as cases surge

Madrid's health minister Enrique Ruiz Escudero. Photo: Jesus Hellin/ Europa Press via Getty Images

Spain's government announced Friday that it will shut down nightclubs, ban public smoking and restrict nursing home visits as coronavirus cases climb in the country, per the AP.

The state of play: Spain's daily cases have almost reached the highs seen in March and April when the country was one of Europe's worst-hit, per Johns Hopkins data. So far during this surge, the nation's reported deaths are nowhere near the rate seen in the spring.

Updated 18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — America has tuned out the coronavirus at the peak of its destruction — 1/3 of people in L.A. County believed to have been infected with coronavirus.
  2. Politics: Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat — Joe Biden will seek nearly $2 trillion in COVID relief spending.
  3. Vaccine: Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.