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Whistleblower Rick Bright to testify before House lawmakers Thursday

© U.S. Government Rick Bright

Dr. Rick Bright, a top government virologist who was working on combating COVID-19, plans to tell lawmakers Thursday that he was "involuntarily transferred to a more limited and less impactful position at the National Institutes of Health," and that this personnel move was retaliatory.

He's testifying Thursday before the Subcommittee on Health for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about the whistleblower complaint he filed about being removed from his job as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Bright claims that he was ousted from his position after raising concerns about a coronavirus treatment supported by President Trump.

In his opening statement, Bright says that he believes his transfer came about as a result of his insistence that money allocated by Congress to confront COVID-19 should be put "into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit." "I spoke out then and I am testifying today because science – not politics or cronyism – must lead the way to combat this deadly virus," Bright is expected to say, according to the statement posted on the subcommittee's website.

"As I reflect on the past few months of this outbreak, it is painfully clear that we were not as prepared as we should have been. We missed early warning signals and we forgot important pages from our pandemic playbook," Bright will tell lawmakers. "For now, we need to focus on getting things right going forward." He also advocates "clear leadership, honest communication, and data-driven solutions" as the coronavirus pandemic continues, and he suggests increasing public education on health measures such as hand-washing and social distancing, as well as ramping up production of essential equipment and implementing a national testing system. Bright's whistleblower complaint, filed earlier this month, says he was removed as director of BARDA soon after the publication of an article about chloroquine for which Bright admits he was a source.

Government officials, he said in his complaint, "refused to listen," so Bright opted to talk to a journalist. He said he believed that he had a moral obligation to do what he could to protect the public "from drugs which he believed constituted a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety." The federal Office of Special Counsel last week determined his removal was retaliatory and said that Bright should be reinstated as director of BARDA while the matter is investigated.

13 May 2020

News Source CBS NEWS

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