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Ousted federal vaccine scientist Rick Bright is scheduled to speak Thursday before the House health subcommittee about “protecting scientific integrity in the COVID-19 response.”
Bright plans to warn the committee that Covid-19 could make 2020 the “darkest winter in modern history” if U.S. leaders can’t mount a more coordinated response to contain the outbreak, according to his prepared remarks.
Bright filed a whistleblower complaint after he was removed last month as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The agency, which falls under the Department of Health and Human Services, is a key player in federally funded vaccine and treatment development.
“Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be darkest winter in modern history,” Bright plans to testify, according to his prepared remarks. “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 plans to reiterate that he was removed from his position because he “resisted efforts to promote and enable broad access” to chloroquine, which was touted by President Donald Trump as a promising treatment against Covid-19 before clinical trials were completed. The Food and Drug Administration as well as researchers have since urged caution in using the drug, which has shown signs of exacerbating health issues.
The Office of Special Counsel has found evidence to support Bright’s claims, the government watchdog said last week.