Millions in vaccine research funds went instead for unrelated office expenses, HHS inspector general says

Washington (CNN) Millions of dollars in federal funds earmarked for vaccine development and other public health matters were wrongly used for the removal of office furniture, news subscriptions and other administrative expenses by an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, according to an investigation launched by its inspector general into a whistleblower complaint. The anonymous whistleblower made a complaint in 2018 that "alleged that (HHS') Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response ... misappropriated millions of dollars that Congress appropriated for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority ... to respond to public health emergencies like outbreaks of Ebola, Zika, and -- now -- Covid-19," according to a letter sent by special counsel Henry Kerner on Wednesday to President Joe Biden detailing the report's findings. Although the report by HHS's inspector general doesn't include a single estimate of how much money was misspent, it "contains evidence that -- as recently as (fiscal year) 2019 -- approximately $25 to $26 million" was taken from BARDA's funding and improperly used for ASPR expenses, Kerner wrote. "The report contains evidence that ASPR used BARDA's ... funds -- funds intended for the development of public health countermeasures, like vaccines -- to pay for the removal of ASPR office furniture, ASPR administrative expenses and news subscriptions, legal services used by ASPR, ASPR's internal resource management system, and the salaries of personnel who did not work for BARDA," the letter states. CNN has reached out to HHS for comment about the report.

Source:CNN

January 27, 2021 19:07 UTC


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