WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of a government agency combating the coronavirus pandemic says he was ousted for opposing politically connected efforts to promote a malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, that President Donald Trump has touted without proof as a remedy for COVID-19.
Immunologist Rick Bright says he was removed from his positions as the Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response by the Administration, and reassigned to a lesser role at the National Institutes of Health.
"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," wrote Bright in a statement obtained by CNN and The Washington Post.
Bright said that science —not politics or cronyism— has to led the way in the pandemic.
"I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science -- not politics or cronyism -- has to lead the way," Bright continued.
The Health and Human Services Department confirmed in a statement late Wednesday that Bright is no longer at the research agency he headed but didn't comment on his allegations of political interference.