Rick Bright, ousted director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), testified before Congress and said that the US will face an even worse crisis if the government fails to improve the coronavirus response.
“Our window of opportunity is closing,” He said. “Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.”
“What we do must be done carefully with guidance from the best scientific minds, “ Bright added, stressing that “If we fail to improve our response now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get worse and be prolonged.”
Bright filed a whistleblower complaint with a government watchdog last week, and stated that he had warned about the virus since January but was instead met with hostility from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
He also advised the federal government to improve the coronavirus response and did not approve of the administration’s timeline for a vaccine.
Bright strongly urged the administration to instead focus on a number of actions such as increasing essential equipment production and to quickly establish the national test strategy and a national standard of procurement of supplies.
He also claimed that the real reason why he was ousted from BARDA was his resistance to push the drugs hydroxychloroquine and the related chloroquine as cures for COVID-19.
BARDA is responsible for developing drugs to fight the coronavirus, and Bright has led the agency since 2016.
HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley dismissed Bright’s claims, stating that he was transferred as a senior adviser at the National Institutes of Health so he can oversee the spending of around $1 billion budget to develop diagnostic testing.
“We are deeply disappointed that he has not shown up to work on behalf of the American people and lead on this critical endeavor,” she said.