COVID-19 Resource Center
COVID-19 Resource Center
April 23, 2020
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Ex-BARDA director says he was reassigned for placing science over politics

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Donald J. Trump

The director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was dismissed from his position yesterday, which he says was in part due to his resistance to efforts to widen the availability of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, a treatment pushed by President Donald J. Trump.

Rick Bright, PhD, who had served as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, was reassigned to a narrower position Tuesday, according to media reports.

In a statement that was shared by multiple media outlets, Bright alleged he was involuntarily transferred to a more “limited and less impactful position” at the NIH. This action was the result of his “insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions,” according to the statement, and not in “drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.”

Bright says he worked to focus the government’s efforts on using the best scientific data available to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, this resulted in clashes with HHS political leadership, including criticism for my proactive efforts to invest early in vaccines and supplies critical to saving American lives. I also resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections,” he said in the statement. “Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the Administration as a panacea but which clearly lack scientific merit. While I am prepared to look at all options and to think ‘outside the box’ for effective treatments, I rightly resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public.”

Bright concluded his statement by saying that “sidelining” him in the middle of the pandemic and “placing politics and cronyism ahead of science” endangers lives and stunts national efforts to address the crisis.

Bright also announced he will file a whistleblower complaint with the HHS' inspector general. – by Caitlyn Stulpin