Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Demoted Scientist Criticizes Virus Response, Prompts Rejoinder From HHS

A scientist who filed a whistleblower complaint alleging his demotion was motivated by political ret..

By Sunday Herald Team , in US Politics , at May 15, 2020

A scientist who filed a whistleblower complaint alleging his demotion was motivated by political retaliation testified to Congress on Thursday as the department he worked for forcefully protested his claims.

Dr. Rick Bright warned lawmakers that the Trump administration lacks a proper plan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming that Americans are “being paralyzed by fear, stemming from a lack of a coordinated response and a dearth of accurate, clear communication about a path forward.”

“Without proper planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history,” he told the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health in Washington, calling on officials to let scientists lead the response.

Bright recently headed the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an office inside the Department of Health and Human Services. Hes alleged political retaliation for opposing an expanded rollout of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two drugs approved for use for several ailments, against COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine used incorrectly can lead to irregular heart rhythms and even death, Bright told lawmakers.

Hydroxychloroquine, also known as Plaquinol, in a photo illustration. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

“We want to make sure that the drugs we consider are safe and effective. Many of these reports we had are anecdotal evidence,” Bright said, referring to the widespread off-label prescription of the malaria drugs by doctors, some of whom said the drugs were effective.

Some studies have shown hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have side effects, including heart issues. The medicines havent been confirmed to cause death. Emerging evidence indicates hydroxychloroquine works best when combined with an antibiotic and zinc.

Bright also pushed the administration in February to acquire stockpiles of remdesivir, an experimental treatment that lacked proof of efficacy against COVID-19 outside of studies from China, and obtain personal protective equipment and other items he felt werent adequately stocked in the Strategic National Stockpile.

A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokeswoman told The Epoch Times that the agency “strongly disagrees with the allegations and characterizations in the complaint from Dr. Bright.”

In a lengthy press release issued around the time Bright began testifying Thursday morning, the department said Bright, who makes $285,010 a year, has still not shown up for work at his new position.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Chairwoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) gives her opening statement during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing to discuss protecting scientific integrity in response to the CCP virus outbreak on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 14, 2020. (Greg Nash/Reuters)

Bright continues to collect his salary “while using his taxpayer-funded medical leave to work with partisan attorneys who are politicizing the response to COVID-19,” the release stated.

“His whistleblower complaint is filled with one-sided arguments and misinformation.”

Bright, the department noted, pushed officials to secure doses of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine and asked for emergency use authorization so the doses could be distributed for use.

Bright told lawmakers that there was “limited data available” at the time and that he only wanted the possible treatments approved so they could be used in clinical trials.

When the administration moved for use broader than he wanted, he voiced objections, which he believes led to his ouster.

Hydroxychloroquine, the less toxic form of chloroquine, has become a political touchstone for many after President Donald Trump said COVID-19 patients should take it. Because its approved by regulators for use against malaria, lupus, and other ailments, patients had “nothing to lose,” Trump said at a press conference.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Dr. Rick Bright testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 14, 2020. (Greg Nash/Pool via Reuters)

Critics quickly decried the recommendation, citing the lack of rigorous trials testing the drug against COVID-19.

There are no proven treatments against COVID-19. A number are being examined in studies and trials.Read More From Source

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The Epoch Times

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