Doctor Rick Bright, who up until recently was the Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), is saying that he was demoted from his position because he opposed the Trump administration’s approach to funding potential coronavirus treatments, CNN reported on Wednesday. Bright was removed from his position as the Director of BARDA on Tuesday.
CNN reported that he was not fired, but he was reassigned to a position with a smaller scope. On Wednesday, Bright released a statement claiming that his reassignment was a direct result of his opposition to funding chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for coronavirus. President Donald Trump has frequently touted chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as effective treatments for coronavirus, but new studies have proven the drugs ineffective.
Bright said that he was vocal about letting science, not politics, guide how the federal funding for research into coronavirus treatments should be used.
“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.”
The Hill reported on Wednesday that Bright believes that the Trump administration is prioritizing politics over public health by trying to fund treatments that aren’t backed by science.
“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 also stated that he and other key figures at BARDA were under immense pressure to provide funding for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which he saw as “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.”
CNN also reported that Bright will be filing a whistleblower complaint against the Department of Health and Human Services in response to his demotion. He is requesting an investigation into how BARDA’s work has been “politicized,” by the Trump administration.
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is a federal agency that has significant influence over which research into treatments and vaccines for infectious diseases will get funding. According to The Hill, BARDA was formed in 2006 specifically to direct funding for research into treatments and vaccines for infectious diseases that have the potential to lead to pandemics. BARDA will play a crucial role in deciding which treatments for COVID-19 will get federal funding. According to CNN, Bright has been with the agency since 2010 and had been its Director since 2016.