Tags: Coronavirus | rick bright | congress | Trump

Coronavirus Whistleblower Rick Bright to Issue Stark Warning to Congress

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(AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 13 May 2020 01:05 PM

Ousted federal scientist and vaccine expert Dr. Rick Bright will issue a warning to Congress on Thursday that the “darkest winter in modern history” is coming unless the country ramps up virus response efforts.

The virus whistleblower, who served as the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency before his April removal, will testify before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's health subcommittee that the Trump administration wasn’t prepared for the coronavirus outbreak and that the country faces "unprecedented illness and fatalities" without additional preparations.

"Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities," Bright will tell lawmakers, according to remarks he prepared obtained by CNN. "Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be darkest winter in modern history.”

Bright will address his whistleblower complaint where he alleges he was removed from his role as retaliation for opposing a drug that President Donald Trump supports as a coronavirus treatment. His agency is charged with developing medical countermeasures. 

Bright will repeat that he was removed from his position because he "resisted efforts to promote and enable broad access to an unproven drug, chloroquine, to the American people without transparent information on the potential health risks.”

Bright would like to be reinstated to his position. CNN reports that his attorney’s said the Office of Special Counsel, which is reviewing his complaint, has determined there is reason to believe his removal was retaliatory and is recommending he be reinstated during the investigation.

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said the personnel matter is under review and the department "strongly disagrees with the allegations and characterizations" in the complaint. 

Bright is expected to testify that he tried to warn his superiors, including senior White House officials, about possible shortages of medical supplies earlier this year. His complaint said his "urgency was dismissed." 

"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’s testimony states.

He will also outline ways to improve the government’s response to help prevent a surge of cases in the fall. His recommendations include more public education of preventive measures, increasing production of medical supplies and developing a national testing strategy.

"The virus is out there, it's everywhere. We need to be able to find it, to isolate it and to stop it from infecting more people," Bright will tell lawmakers. "We need tests that are accurate, rapid, easy to use, low cost, and available to everyone who needs them."

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Politics
Ousted federal scientist and vaccine expert Dr. Rick Bright will issue a warning to Congress on Thursday that the “darkest winter in modern history” is coming unless the country ramps up virus response efforts.
rick bright, congress, Trump
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2020-05-13
Wednesday, 13 May 2020 01:05 PM
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