Coronavirus News USA

Rick Bright: Federal official ousted after coronavirus treatment clash has long history of working on vaccine preparedness


Dr. Rick Bright had led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which has been central to the response to the coronavirus outbreak, since 2016. But his departure Tuesday, he believes, stems in part from his resistance to efforts to widen the availability of a coronavirus treatment pushed by President Donald Trump. Bright will now lead a public-private partnership on vaccine development and treatment, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services told CNN.

As BARDA’s director, Bright oversaw “the advanced development and procurement of medical countermeasures against an array of threats to national security and the public’s health, including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear threats and pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases,” according to an archived webpage of his official biography.

Bright said in a statement issued Wednesday that he believes his transfer was owed to his “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 also announced he will file a whistleblower complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general.

While testifying before Congress in 2018 on BARDA’s fight against the flu, Bright had touted the effectiveness of his former agency, saying, “No one can rival BARDA’s success in expanding capacity and pushing new products to the marketplace.”
Prior to serving as director of the agency, Bright, who had been with BARDA since 2010, served as the director of its Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division, “where he was responsible for preparing the nation for influenza pandemics,” according to the World Health Organization.

But Bright, who holds a Ph.D. in immunology and virology from Emory University, has shared his expertise beyond the US, serving as an adviser to the World Health Organization, according to its website, which said he has also advised the US Department of Defense.

The doctor began his career with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to his biography, where he focused on influenza viruses and antiviral drugs, among other things.

Bright has also held a number of stints in the private sector where he worked on vaccine developments, according to the WHO, and is the recipient of the prestigious Charles C. Shepard Science Award for Scientific Excellence.


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