The Trump administration official overseeing critical coronavirus testing in the US was forced out of a previous position developing vaccines at Texas A&M University – a stint in which he made “sweeping statements about the impact of his work, not all of which turned out as some had hoped,” The Washington Post reported Monday.
The Post said Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, an unofficial member of the White House’s coronavirus task force who worked on vaccine projects at the university for eight years, “was told in 2015 he had 30 minutes to resign or he would be fired” from his post at the school.
Citing a local newspaper that reported on Giroir’s annual evaluation, the Post said Giroir received a performance evaluation that “said he was ‘more interested in promoting yourself’ than the health science center where he worked. He got low marks on being a ‘team player.’”
Giroir defended himself in an interview with the Post, saying he was a team player, but “not to people who act inappropriately, who are misogynistic and who are abusive to other people. I don’t have a loyalty to that.” The newspaper said he didn’t elaborate on what he meant, saying instead: “I’ll just leave it at that.”
The official also told the Post that while he was “heartbroken” to leave the position, “the vaccine projects have proved valuable – and might contribute to the development of a coronavirus vaccine.”
The issue of testing has gained renewed attention in recent days as President Donald Trump continues to push for the US to reopen, with industry leaders and a slew of governors warning that the nation cannot get back to business as usual without a substantial increase in testing nationally.
With state officials pushing for significant increases in testing, Giroir told the Post that “the current capability of 3.5 million tests per month needs to increase to 6 million to 8 million for a ‘gradual reopening’ of the economy to occur, and he said such capacity is growing quickly.”
The Post said The Eagle, the local newspaper that obtained Giroir’s evaluation, reported that “while Giroir had a grade of 4 or 5 for his management and related skills, on a scale in which 5 is the highest mark, he had a 2 or 3 in areas of ‘loyalty/commitment’ and ‘team player.’”
The local newspaper also reported that the university said in a statement, “‘It is inaccurate and disingenuous at best to attribute growth in (the school’s vaccine development area) solely to Dr. Giroir.’”
In an interview with the Post, Robin Robinson, “who as the director of the federal Biological Advanced Research and Development Authority oversaw a major grant for the Texas vaccine project,” said Giroir “‘over-promised and under-delivered.’”
Robinson told the newspaper he has a “‘good relationship’” with Giroir, but that the official “’has a temper and he sometimes has a very difficult time controlling it.’”
Giroir left Texas A&M in 2015 after its new president, Michael Young, “asked some senior officials at the university to resign, while offering to keep them in their jobs for at least a year,” the Post said. Giroir, who told the newspaper he refused to sign the letter, instead resigned from his position.