US is facing its ‘darkest winter’, ‘ousted’ expert Rick Bright says

US is facing its 'darkest winter', 'ousted' expert Rick Bright says
Mr Bright led the government agency trying to develop a vaccine, but was removed from his post last month. Source: ABC News
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Daily US Times: Rick Bright, a former top US health official has told Congress that the country could face its ”darkest winter in modern history’ dure to coronavirus.

Mr Bright led the government agency trying to develop a vaccine, but was removed from his post last month. He was the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda).

He said previously that he was ousted from his post for raising concern over a treatment being touted by President Donald Trump.

President Trump dismissed him as a “disgruntled” employee.

Bright also told the House of Representatives subcommittee on health “lives were lost” because of government “inaction” in the early stages of the outbreak.

He said that he first spoke out a medical equipment shortage in January and raising the problem to the “highest levels” of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Bright said he “got no response”.

What else did Mr Bright say?

Mr Bright warned during the testimony that the US’s “window of opportunity” to deal with the coronavirus was “closing”.

He said: “If we fail to improve our response now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get worse and be prolonged.”

“Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.”

In January he received an email he would “never forget”, from a supplier of medical-grade face masks who warned of a severe shortage, Mr Bright told the subcommittee.

“He said… we need to act. And I pushed that forward to the highest level that I could of HHS – and got no response.”

Mr Bright said he was insisting that money allocated by Congress to deal with the virus should be put “into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit”. This stand led his removal from his post, according to him.

He added: “I spoke out then, and I am testifying today, because science – not politics or cronyism – must lead the way to combat this deadly virus.”

Why was he removed from his post?

Earlier this month, a whistleblower complaint says Mr Bright was removed from his post for political reasons.

Mr Bright says he was removed shortly after the publication of an article on chloroquine.

President Donald Trump had referred to hydroxychloroquine which is an antimalarial drug, as a potential “game-changer” in the treatment of Covid-19. His suggestion was rejected by the experts, while many experts have cautioned that it could be ineffective, or even dangerous.

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