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NIH whistleblower quits, says administration ‘ignores scientific expertise’

Dr. Rick Bright says if we don’t figure out the coronavirus now we could have a challenging winter.

Dr. Rick Bright has officially quit his position at the National Institutes of Health.

Not only has the immunologist quit, he says it’s because the Trump administration didn’t listen to the scientific evidence available to stop the spread of the coronavirus, per The Guardian. He also says his plan to develop a testing infrastructure for the country was ignored.

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The doctor used to lead a team at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a department of the U.S. Health and Human Services. The agency, responsible for helping fight public health conditions such as bioterrorism attacks and pandemics, is currently working on a coronavirus vaccine.

Bright was transferred this spring and believes it’s retaliation for refusing to sign on to the decision to give New Yorkers hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug Trump claimed as a COVID-19 remedy. He also claims senior NIH executives ignored his suggestion to provide healthcare workers with N95 respirator masks around the time the pandemic started.

Dr. Richard Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing to discuss protecting scientific integrity in response to the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday, May 14, 2020. in Washington, DC. Warning that COVID-19 could make ‘2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history,’ Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has filed a federal whistleblower complaint alleging he was fired for opposing the use of a drug promoted by President Donald Trump as a potential coronavirus treatment. (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)
Dr. Richard Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing to discuss protecting scientific integrity in response to the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday, May 14, 2020. in Washington, DC. Warning that COVID-19 could make ‘2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history,’ Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has filed a federal whistleblower complaint alleging he was fired for opposing the use of a drug promoted by President Donald Trump as a potential coronavirus treatment. (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

He went public with the complaint he filed in May about his COVID-19 warnings being ignored.  

“I was pressured to let politics and cronyism drive decisions over the opinions of the best scientists we have in government,” Bright said on a call per CNN, after filing the complaint.

When he testified before Congress in May, Bright said the US could undergo the darkest winter of modern history if it did not formulate a strategy to combat the virus.

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Dr. Bright’s attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks said in a statement, “Dr. Bright was forced to leave his position at NIH because he can no longer sit idly by and work for an administration that ignores scientific expertise, overrules public health guidance, and disrespects career scientists, resulting in the sickness and death of hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

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The post NIH whistleblower quits, says administration ‘ignores scientific expertise’ appeared first on TheGrio.

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Whistle-Blowing Scientist Quits Government With Final Broadside

WASHINGTON — Rick Bright, a senior vaccine scientist who said he was demoted this spring for complaining about “cronyism” and political interference in science, resigned his final government post on Tuesday, saying he had been sidelined and left with nothing to do.

In a new addendum to the whistle-blower complaint he filed in May, Dr. Bright’s lawyers say officials at the National Institutes of Health, where he worked after his demotion, rejected his idea for a national coronavirus testing strategy “because of political considerations.” He also accused them of ignoring his request to join the $10 billion effort to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine, known as Operation Warp Speed.

“I long to serve the American people by using my skills to fight this pandemic,” Dr. Bright wrote on Sept. 25 to Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the institutes, noting that he had 25 years of experience in vaccine development. “The taxpayers who pay my salary deserve no less.”

Dr. Bright’s resignation from the Department of Health and Human Services comes six months after he was ousted as the chief of the department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and reassigned to a narrower job at the health institutes, which also fall under the health department. At the N.I.H, he was supposed to take the lead on developing novel point-of-care coronavirus tests. His lawyers said he did that, creating a team that awarded eight contracts to build up coronavirus testing and exhausted its budget.

But, one of his lawyers said on Tuesday, Dr. Bright “remains very concerned” about the politicization of science from the White House, especially with the arrival from Stanford’s Hoover Institution of Dr. Scott W. Atlas, a neuroradiologist without training in epidemiology or infectious diseases. Dr. Atlas’s aversion to mask wearing and his belief that “herd immunity” could stop Covid-19 have made him a favorite of President Trump’s.

During his weekly meetings with Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, it has become clear that President Trump’s new science adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, “who lacks a background in infectious disease, is ‘calling the shots’ at the White House,” Dr. Bright’s lawyers wrote.

Dr. Collins did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have previously said that they strongly disagree with Dr. Bright’s characterizations, and Mr. Trump has called Dr. Bright a “disgruntled employee” on Twitter. An N.I.H. official said on Tuesday that the agency could “confirm that Dr. Bright has resigned, effective today,” adding that it “does not discuss personnel issues beyond confirming employment.”

Dr. Bright has been given “no meaningful work” since Sept. 4, the lawyers wrote.

“Dr. Bright was forced to leave his position at N.I.H. because he can no longer sit idly by and work for an administration that ignores scientific expertise, overrules public health guidance and disrespects career scientists, resulting in the sickness and death of hundreds of thousands of Americans,” the lawyers, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, said in a