Daily US Times: New signs are appearing that the Trump administration is shunting science aside in the battle against coronavirus.
The most stunning development on Wednesday emerged when a top administration official working on a vaccine claimed he was ousted because of resisting efforts to push unproven drugs promoted by President Donald Trump and his conservative media cheerleaders as “game changer” treatments.
That development was followed by a bewilderingly inconsistent White House briefing. Conflicting messages from the administration on when to reboot the economy, the severe need for testing and the possibility of a resurface of the virus combined with Trump’s effort to suppress facts that jar with his insistence that the end of a coronavirus nightmare likely to last many more months is near.
Trump produced Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in another bizarre twist to walk back his remarks that the coronavirus challenge could be more difficult in the fall.
Trump claimed that Redfield had been “totally misquoted” by the media, But Redfield confirmed that he was accurately quoted and had in fact made the remarks that angered Trump.
As Trump countered that the headline was wrong, Redfield conceded, “I’m accurately quoted in The Washington Post.”
In a Washington Post interview, Redfield warned that if a coronavirus resurgence came at the same time as the flu season, hospitals could be overwhelmed.
President Trump also openly conflicted with his top public health officials on the likelihood of the virus returning for another assault in the fall — saying only “embers” of disease were likely that could be easily put out.
He did break with Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Republican Governor, saying he “strongly disagrees” with aggressive plans to open businesses including hair salons on Friday as other pro-Trump southern states considering to ease stay-at-home orders.
President Trump’s Wednesday’s stand is unlikely to ease fears amid Americans tiring of stay-at-home orders but wary of reemerging into normal life.
What did the official say?
Dr. Rick Bright, who led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, appeared to be the latest case when a senior official who contradicted Trump’s pet causes paid with his job.
Bright claimed he was transferred to another post because of his “insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address Covid-19 into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.”
“Sidelining me in the middle of this pandemic and 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 wrote.
Bright suggested that the Health and Human Services Department leadership was not committed to following science and wanted to fund drugs promoted by Trump’s political allies.
But Trump said he had nothing to do with Bright’s ouster.