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‘Retaliation plain and simple’: Vaccine agency top Doc fired by Trump administration files whistleblower complaint

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Dr. Rick Bright has retained an attorney and will be filing a whistleblower complaint after the Trump administration fired him from his position as head of the federal agency charged with developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Bright was moved to a different agency with a narrower focus after he raised concerns over President Donald Trump’s obsession with promoting hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug recent studies found doubles the death rate in coronavirus patients.

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“The Administration’s removal of Dr. Bright from his position as director of BARDA is retaliation plain and simple,” Bright’s attorneys, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, said in a statement, CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond reports.

“The results from the Administration’s refusal to listen to the experts and to sideline those like Dr. Bright who point out any errors in the government’s response will continue to be catastrophic for the American people,” Bright’s attorneys add. “We will request that the Office of Special Counsel seek a stay of Dr. Bright’s termination and that Dr. Bright be permitted to remain in his position pending the OSC and IG’s investigation of this unlawful forced transfer.”

Dr. Bright says he was removed “in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.”

“I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.”

Dr. Bright has spent his entire career developing vaccines.

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As Texas businesses reopen, a short-lived coronavirus safety net is dismantled

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Evictions and debt collections have resumed, child care subsidies will be discontinued and those who are out of work will again have to prove they are searching for a job in order to receive unemployment benefits.

This spring, as a global pandemic promised historic suffering and economic ruin, Texas officials reached for unfamiliar tools. They wove together some protections for the vulnerable, expanding unemployment benefits and child care subsidies, limiting evictions, utility shutoffs and debt collections.

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COVID-19

North Korea to reopen schools as virus fears ease

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North Korea will reopen schools this month after shuttering them over the coronavirus pandemic, reports said Monday.

Pyongyang has not confirmed a single infection but has imposed strict rules, including closing its borders and putting thousands of its people into isolation.

The new school term -- initially scheduled to start early April -- has been repeatedly postponed, although some universities and high schools were allowed to resume classes in mid-April.

"New semesters will begin at elementary, middle and high schools nationwide from early June, and quarantine measures have been put in place for the reopening of nurseries and kindergartens," Yonhap news agency reported, citing the North's state radio.

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COVID-19

US sends 2 million doses of unproven virus drug to Brazil

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The United States has delivered two million doses of the antimalarial medicine hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to Brazil to fight COVID-19, the White House said Sunday, though the drug has not been proven effective against the coronavirus.

"HCQ will be used as a prophylactic to help defend Brazil's nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals against the virus. It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who become infected," a statement said.

It said the US would soon also send 1,000 ventilators to Brazil, the epicenter of South America's outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases.

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