Ousted BARDA scientist Dr. Rick Bright tells all – the political neglect, criminal unpreparedness, filtered public truth, and the impending and inevitable darkest winter in modern history.
This week in the post-Corona world, a top-level vaccine scientist, who worked for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA), has been ousted from his position due to conflicts with senior officials of Trump administration.
A career public servant, Rick Bright spent most of his career dealing with pandemic outbreaks and working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and BARDA. With a background in biology and physics, he has a credible history that gives him some authority on the matter at hand and his prior experiences have prepared him for a crisis just like the one we are facing right now. However, politics had a different plan for him.
Political ousting of Dr. Rick Bright
According to his testimony, Dr. Bright’s transfer to a less significant role from BARDA to the National Institute of Health was due to his insistence that the government invest more in “scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit”. A strange claim for a vaccine expert to make. Perhaps a Freudian slip? Let’s push forward.
Rick Bright claims that government scientists pushed back on the White House’s effort to “flood” New York City with Hydroxychloroquine, a drug typically used for malaria. Hydroxychloroquine was considered by the White House early on based on studies from China and France, but contrary to the president’s claims, it was not approved by the FDA.
Rick Bright states that he made “dire predictions” about this new outbreak which started in Wuhan, China but his outcries were simply dismissed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) leadership. He also made it clear that the United States faced a “critical shortage of necessary supplies” such as masks and respirators. When he bought these concerns to a senior White House advisor, he was met with hostility from HHS officials. Even President Donald Trump slammed Rick Bright’s warnings when asked by a reporter.
Watch: Rick Bright’s full opening statement in front of Congress
The last straw was Dr. Bright resisting the promotion and enabling of broad access to Hydroxychloroquine, an unproven drug, to the American people. This led to his demotion and consequent filing of a whistleblower complaint. The lengthy 89-page complaint filed by Bright’s lawyers showcases his grievances in full. For example, Bright’s concern over the years about BARDA’s use of funding on projects backed up by well-connected companies. Or what he saw as improper pressure from officials, including his own boss, Robert Kadlec, when he protested these projects.
Dr. Bright’s solutions that the government ignored
Dr. Bright has offered several solutions that he thinks can mitigate the damage caused by this disease. First and foremost, he calls for honesty and transparency in the way the pandemic is being handled. He believes the American people have the right to know the truth, not the truth that has been “filtered for political reasons”, and that scientists should be allowed to speak without fear of retribution.
Second, he believes we should increase public education regarding the prevention of disease and increase the production of equipment like ventilators to avoid such a collapse of the healthcare system in the future. Finally, he calls for a national testing strategy. According to Dr. Bright, we need a test that is “accurate, rapid, easy to use, low cost and available to everyone who needs them”.
Regardless of how you feel, one thing is for sure: we all want things to go back to normal. Going forward in this pandemic we will need all the information we can get. Whether it be from government sources, whistleblowers, or doctors on the front line. If we fail to put aside our differences and come together on this issue then we may face what Dr. Bright calls “the darkest winter in modern history”.