HHS removes head of vaccine team for questioning Trump’s claims

The Trump Timeline

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On or around April 20, the Department of Health and Human Services reassigns a government doctor to a quieter position at the National Institute of Health for questioning Donald Trump’s endorsement of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.

Dr. Rick Bright was — until today — HHS’s deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response. He was also the director of HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). He was leading the federal efforts to develop a vaccine to end the pandemic.

But that all changed after he urged the department to vet the anti-malaria drug that Trump touted as a COVID-19 “game changer.”

Earlier this month, Bright’s superiors instructed him to direct funding to the promotion and production of hydroxychloroquine. He responded by pressing HHS officials to rigorously research the drug’s effectiveness first.

In a scorching statement, Dr. Bright assailed the leadership at the health department, saying he was pressured to direct money toward hydroxychloroquine, one of several “potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections” and repeatedly described by the president as a potential “game changer” in the fight against the virus.

“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” he said in his statement. “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.”

The New York Times

Studies from other agencies and allies abroad are already trickling out. Their findings indicate that hydroxychloroquine does not reduce the need for ventilators as Trump has suggested, and, in many cases, the risk of death increased in COVID-19 patients who took the drug.

External Sources

The New York Times (Archived)

Mother Jones (Archived)

Photo: Public Domain

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