Deposed BARDA scientist Dr. Rick Bright tells it all: political malpractice, criminal unpreparedness, leaked public truth, and the impending and inevitable darkest winter in modern history.
This week in the post-Corona world, a senior vaccine scientist, who worked for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA), has been removed from his post due to conflicts with senior Trump administration officials.
A career civil 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 track record that gives him some authority on the matter at hand and his previous experiences have prepared him for a crisis like the one we are now facing. However, politics had a different plan for him.
The political impeachment of Dr. Rick Bright
According to his testimony, Dr. Bright’s move to a less senior role from BARDA to the National Institutes of Health was due to his insistence that the government invest more in “scientifically proven solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines, and other technologies that lack scientific merit. A strange statement for a vaccine expert. Perhaps a Freudian slip? Let’s move on.
Rick Bright claims government scientists opposed the White House initiative to “flood” New York City with hydroxychloroquine, a drug commonly 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 claims that he made “dire predictions” about this new outbreak starting in Wuhan, China, but his protests were simply dismissed by the leadership of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He also made it clear that the United States was facing a “critical shortage of necessary supplies” such as masks and ventilators. When he purchased these concerns from a top White House adviser, he was met with hostility from HHS officials. Even President Donald Trump criticized Rick Bright’s warnings when questioned by a reporter.
The last straw was Dr. Bright’s resistance to promoting and allowing wide access to hydroxychloroquine, an unproven drug, to the American people. This led to his demotion and subsequent filing of a complaint. The lengthy 89-page complaint filed by Bright’s attorneys shows his claims in full. For example, Bright’s concern over the years about the use of BARDA funding on projects backed by well-connected companies. Or what he considered undue 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 believes can mitigate the damage caused by this disease. First of all, he calls for honesty and transparency in the way the pandemic is being handled. He believes that the American people have a right to know the truth, not truth that has been “leaked for political reasons,” and that scientists should be able to speak out without fear of reprisal.
Second, he believes we should increase public education on disease prevention and increase the production of equipment such as ventilators to avoid a collapse of the health system in the future. Lastly, he calls for a national testing strategy. According to Dr. Bright, we need a test that is “accurate, fast, easy to use, low cost, and available to everyone who needs it.”
Regardless of his opinion, one thing is for sure: we all want things to return to normal. In the face of this pandemic, we will need all the information we can get. Be it from government sources, whistleblowers, or doctors on the front lines. If we don’t put our differences aside and come together on this issue, we may face what Dr. Bright calls “the darkest winter in modern history.”