Rick Bright was ousted this week as director of the US Department of Health’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or Barda, and as an assistant assistant secretary for preparedness and response.
In an incredibly frank statement, Bright underscored his refusal to embrace hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug relentlessly promoted by the president and Fox News despite the lack of scientific studies.
“Specifically, and contrary to the wrong guidelines, I have limited the widespread use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which the administration claims to be a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific value,” said Bright.
“Although I am ready to explore all the options and think” outside the box “for effective treatments, I have rightly resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public.”
Asked about Bright during the White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Trump said: “I have never heard of him. If a guy says he was fired from a job, maybe he was, maybe not. You should hear the other side. I don’t know who he is. “
Trump has repeatedly presented hydroxychloroquine as therapy for coronavirus, pointing to a representative from the Democratic State of Michigan who said it has been good for him and frequently asking him, “What do you have to loose?”
But on Tuesday, an analysis of the drug’s use in veteran hospitals in the United States found no benefit.
Bright added: “I insisted that these drugs be provided only to patients hospitalized with Covid-19 confirmed under the supervision of a doctor. These drugs have potentially serious risks, including an increase in mortality seen in some recent studies in patients with Covid-19.
“Putting myself aside in the midst of this pandemic and placing politics and cronyism above science endangers life and hampers national efforts to address this urgent public health crisis safely and effectively . “
Bright is said to have hired lawyers Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, whose clients were government whistleblowers and Christine Blasey Ford, who released allegations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh when he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2018.
On Wednesday, Ronald Klain, who led the Obama administration’s response to an Ebola outbreak in 2014, tweeted: “Dr. Bright is a professional – a vaccine expert – whom I met during the Ebola response. If that’s true, it … represents an ongoing effort by the Trump administration to put politics before science and security. “
Dr. Bright said he would ask the health department’s inspector general to investigate how the Trump administration “politicized and pressured Barda’s work, along with other scientists conscientious, to finance companies with relations and political efforts without scientific foundation.
“Rushing blindly to unproven drugs can be disastrous and lead to countless additional deaths. Science, in the service of the health and safety of the American people, must always prevail over politics. “
Bright, whose entire career had been devoted to vaccine development, had headed Barda since 2016. He was transferred to a less influential position at the National Institutes of Health.
He told the New York Times: “I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in safe and scientifically approved solutions, not drugs, vaccines and other technologies that have no scientific value.
“I speak because to fight this deadly virus, science – not politics or cronyism – must lead the way. “