Bright Settles Dismissal Complaint While Whistleblower Case Continues

Bright_Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images

Former BARDA Director Rick Bright. (Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)

Dr. Rick Bright, a vaccine expert and the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), removed from his position after raising concern about President Trump’s response to the pandemic last April, settled a complaint regarding his dismissal.

Bright and the Department of Health and Human Services came to an agreement regarding the dismissal that includes compensation for losses of salary, benefits, and pension contributions, CNN reported. 

Last year, Bright was removed from his role as director of BARDA after he publicly raised concerns regarding statements made by the White House and former President Trump regarding the use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Bright had held the position at BARDA since 2016. 

The former director of BARDA made public statements about the lack of clinical evidence regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine, despite Trump’s enthusiastic endorsement of the medication as a panacea for the pandemic-causing virus. Numerous clinical studies showed the antiviral drug did not provide a robust response in COVID-19 patients. 

The Trump White House removed Bright from his position at BARDA and reassigned him to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health. He ultimately resigned from his role and claimed that Trump and his subordinates ignored scientific and public health expertise in favor of politics.

Regarding the settlement of his dismissal from BARDA, Bright told CNN that he was grateful for the resolution. The vaccine expert stated that he is now ready to “focus all of my attention on my lifelong career goal: containing global outbreaks and preventing pandemics to ensure the world never again suffers the consequences we have seen over the past 18 months.”

In November, President-elect Joe Biden tapped Bright to serve on his administration’s COVID-19 advisory board. Prior to his role with BARDA, Bright worked with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, focusing on the development of vaccines, diagnostics, and antivirals for influenza. 

While Bright was compensated for his losses, a whistleblower complaint filed with the government’s Office of the Special Counsel alleging wrongdoing within HHS regarding the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic remains ongoing. As BioSpace previously reported, when he filed the complaint, the former director said that Trump officials rejected his warnings against COVID-19 as the virus rapidly spread from China to parts of Europe. Following a global warning from the World Health Organization in January of 2020, he urged the government to acquire protective masks and other medical equipment necessary to combat a contagious disease. The administration rebuffed his warnings.

“HHS publicly represented not only that COVID-19 was not an imminent threat, but also that HHS already had all the masks it would need,” he said in the complaint.

In addition to his role on the president’s COVID-19 advisory board, Bright serves as the senior vice president of pandemic prevention and response for the Rockefeller Foundation.

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