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Director Of Agency In Charge Of Making Vaccine Says He Was Removed For Doubting Hydroxychloroquine

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Director Of Agency In Charge Of Making Vaccine Says He Was Removed For Doubting Hydroxychloroquine

One of the key doctors leading the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response at the federal level said he was fired from his job because he resisted the use of antimalarial drugs touted by President Donald Trump.

What Happened

Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Rick Bright, who had led the agency since 2016, was abruptly reassigned to a more limited role at the National Institute of Health relating to point-of-care COVID-19 testing earlier this week.

"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," Bright said in a statement Wednesday, as reported by CNN.

"I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science -- not politics or cronyism -- has to lead the way."

Bright claimed that he was penalized for limiting the use of antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19, which were "promoted by the Administration as a panacea but...clearly lack scientific merit."

Some of his stances that went against the Trump administration resulted in clashes with "political leadership" at the Department of Health and Human Services, Bright said, likely referring to department secretary Alex Azar.

"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," Bright added.

The former BARDA director said he will file a complaint with the HHS Inspector General for wrongful termination.

Administration Denies Wrongdoing

President Donald Trump at a news conference said he wasn't aware of the matter.

"I've never heard of him. When did this happen?" Trump asked. "I never heard of him. Guy says he was pushed out of a job, maybe he was, maybe he wasn't."

An HHS spokesperson dismissed the idea of Bright's reassignment as being a demotion.

"Bright will transfer the skills he has applied as Director of the [BARDA] ]o the National Institutes of Health, as part of a bold plan to accelerate the development and deployment of novel point-of-care testing platforms," the HHS statement said.

Other officials noted that Bright didn't express his disapproval of the antimalarial drugs internally, and his transfer had more to do with competency of his leadership, Politico reported.

 

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