Virus Whistleblower Resigns, Calls Out Trump Administration

Rick Bright says he was forced out
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 7, 2020 3:27 AM CDT
Updated Oct 7, 2020 6:56 AM CDT
Whistleblower Who Alleged Massive Virus Failures Resigns
In this image provided by Public Health Emergency, a department of Health and Human Services, Rick Bright is shown in his official photo on April 27, 2017, in Washington.   (Health and Human Services via AP)

A high-ranking government whistleblower who alleges the Trump administration fumbled its coronavirus response resigned Tuesday, saying he has been forced out. Lawyers for Dr. Rick Bright said he was sidelined at the National Institutes of Health, where he had been transferred this spring after being ousted as head of a biodefense agency, the AP reports. Attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks said NIH superiors ignored a national coronavirus testing strategy that Bright developed because he had become politically toxic within the Trump administration. “NIH leadership declined to support Dr. Bright’s recommendations because of political considerations, plain and simple,” the lawyers said. “This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. He can no longer countenance working for an administration that puts politics over science to the great detriment of the American people.”

There was no immediate response from the Department of Health and Human Services. Bright had filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, a government agency that investigates whistleblower allegations. He added to his complaint Tuesday, saying his departure from the government comes under duress. Bright is a Ph.D. immunologist who formerly headed the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an HHS agency that works to prepare the nation for such threats as a pandemic or a bioterrorism attack. That agency is now playing a central role in the campaign to deliver a coronavirus vaccine. Bright's expertise is in vaccine development. Bright went public with his complaint in May, alleging he had been summarily removed as agency head because he resisted pressure to flood the New York area with hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug that President Trump was touting as a treatment for COVID-19.

(More Rick Bright stories.)

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