Ousted Vaccine Chief Will Warn of 'Darkest Winter'

Rick Bright is set to testify before Congress on Thursday
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2020 3:40 PM CDT
Ousted Vaccine Chief Will Warn of 'Darkest Winter'
"Here is a guy who laid out processes and actions to fight a pandemic," Lurie says. "Those processes were disregarded and actions weren’t taken."   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Rick Bright, ousted chief of a government agency fighting the pandemic, is set to deliver sobering warnings when he testifies before Congress on Thursday. The virologist will warn that without a coordinated, science-based national response, "the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities," according to prepared testimony obtained by CNN. "Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history," he will tell lawmakers. Bright, who is seeking to be reinstated as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, will be testifying before a House subcommittee about his whistleblower complaint.

In his complaint, Bright said he was forced out because he resisted the administration's push to use hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment. "I spoke out then and I am testifying today because science—not politics or cronyism—must lead the way to combat this deadly virus," he will say in his opening statement Thursday, per CBS News. Insiders tell Politico that Bright's demotion has exposed fault lines in the Health and Human Services Department's emergency division. The sources say that Robert Kadlec, the Trump's assistant secretary for preparedness and response who ousted Bright, rebuffed Obama-era predecessor Nicole Lurie's offers of help before the pandemic. (A federal watchdog says Bright should be reinstated while its investigation is ongoing.)

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