The former director of HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has filed a whistleblower complaint claiming he was removed from his role as head of the federal vaccine development agency in part for pushing for a more aggressive response to COVID-19.
Rick Bright claims that between 2017 and the time of his removal he was told to ignore scientific merit when awarding contracts from the agency and instead give them based on “political connections and cronyism.”
In his complaint, Bright claims that the administration ignored his warnings about the dangers of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, and that he expressed concerns that drugs being donated to the Strategic National Stockpile were coming from unregulated factories in India and Pakistan.
He also alleges that HHS ignored his early warnings about shortages arising from the epidemic, including masks, needles and syringes.
Bright was reassigned last month to helm an initiative on COVID-19 diagnostics at the National Institutes of Health (DID, April 22), a lower-profile position than the one he held at BARDA.
“Dr. Bright was transferred to NIH to work on diagnostics testing — critical to combatting COVID-19 — where he has been entrusted to spend upward of $1 billion to advance that effort. We are deeply disappointed that he has not shown up to work on behalf of the American people and lead on this critical endeavor,” an HHS spokesperson said.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Read Bright’s complaint here: www.fdanews.com/05-05-20-Complaint.pdf.