The doctor who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for a rigorous vetting of a coronavirus treatment embraced by President Trump. The doctor said that science, not "politics and cronyism," must lead the way.
Dr. Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response.
Instead, he was given a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health. "I believe this transfer was 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," he said in a statement to The New York Times's Maggie Haberman.
"I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way," he said.
The White House declined to comment. ...
Dr. Bright, who noted that his entire career had been spent in vaccine development both in and outside of government, has led BARDA since 2016.
In the statement, he said:
My professional background has prepared me for a moment like this — to confront and defeat a deadly virus that threatens Americans and people around the globe. To this point, I have led the government's efforts to invest in the best science available to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, this resulted in clashes with H.H.S. political leadership, including criticism for my proactive efforts to invest early into vaccines and supplies critical to saving American lives. I also resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections. ... 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.
I insisted that these drugs be provided only to hospitalized patients with confirmed Covid-19 while under the supervision of a physician. These drugs have potentially serious risks associated with them, including increased mortality observed in some recent studies in patients with Covid-19. Sidelining me in the middle of this pandemic and placing politics and cronyism ahead of science puts lives at risk and stunts national efforts to safely and effectively address this urgent public health crisis.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Director of DHS' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority Removed From Post After Disagreeing With Trump - Over Science
New York Times, April 22, 2020: