The Office of Special Counsel has determined there are “reasonable grounds” to believe a former top vaccine official was removed from his post last month for retaliatory reasons and plans to recommend the Department of Health and Human Services reinstate him while it investigates, the official’s lawyers said Friday.Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, was removed April 20 after having served as BARDA director for nearly four years. He was reassigned to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health that HHS touted as part of a “bold new plan” to improve testing to defeat covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.Bright said in the complaint that he tried to “prioritize science and safety over political expediency” and raised concerns over the safety and efficacy of the drugs.OSC recommendations are not binding. Officials at the federal watchdog office said they could not comment on the status of an open investigation.HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in a statement, “This is a personnel matter that is currently under review. However, HHS strongly disagrees with the allegations and characterizations in the complaint from Dr. Bright.” Bright’s lawyers, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, had requested that he

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