Rick Bright, the top federal vaccine official who claims he was ousted from his position for speaking out, is expected to criticize the administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and warn of dark days to come during a House hearing on Thursday.
Bright will publicly advise the federal government to ramp up its response, a week after filing a whistleblower complaint alleging he was fired from his job leading the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for opposing the use of hydrochloroquine (which has been "touted" - to use the media's new favorite word - by President Trump as a potential COVID-19 treatment).
In his complaint, Bright claims he was excluded from an HHS meeting on the coronavirus in late January after he "pressed for urgent access to funding, personnel, and clinical specimens, including viruses," to develop treatments for the coronavirus should it spread outside of Asia.
Bright alleges it "became increasingly clear" in late January that "HHS leadership was doing nothing to prepare for the imminent mask shortage."
Bright claims he "resisted efforts to fall into line with the Administration’s directive to promote the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine and to award lucrative contracts for these and other drugs even though they lacked scientific merit and had not received prior scientific vetting."
He adds that "even as HHS leadership began to acknowledge the imminent shortages in critical medical supplies, they failed to recognize the magnitude of the problem, and they failed to take the necessary urgent action."
President Trump had a few things to say, of course:
I don’t know the so-called Whistleblower Rick Bright, never met him or even heard of him, but to me he is a disgruntled employee, not liked or respected by people I spoke to and who, with his attitude, should no longer be working for our government!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020
The Hill reports that Bright is expected to warn the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health of “unprecedented illness and fatalities” if the U.S. coronavirus response does not improve.
"Our window of opportunity is closing," Bright is expected to testify, according to his prepared remarks provided to CNN.
"Without clear planning and implementation... 2020 will be (the) darkest winter in modern history."
Watch Live (due to start at 10amET):