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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is defending a immunologist and former federal official who has filed a whistleblower complaint and will testify next week before a House subcommittee.
Dr. Rick Bright, who until last month was the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response and director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, described a chaotic response to the virus at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Donald Trump has been cheerleading the use of a malaria medication, hydroxychloroquine, as a cure-all for COVID-19 despite a lack of scientific evidence, and the potential for dangerous side effects.
Dr Bright says he was shoved out of a key coronavirus response job for pushing back on “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections” filed a whistleblower complaint Tuesday charging “an abuse of authority or gross mismanagement” at the agency.
The chaos was fueled largely by “pressure from HHS leadership to ignore scientific merit and expert recommendations and instead to award lucrative contracts based on political connections and cronyism,” the complaint says.
He is set to testify May 14 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee health subcommittee.
“So, again, Congresswoman [Anna] Eshoo, chair of the health subcommittee on Energy and Commerce, and the chair of the committee Mr. [Frank] Pallone, next week they will have hearing about those allegations that have been put forth by Dr. Bright,” Pelosi said. “But understand he is a person of the highest integrity and experience as a scientist. BARDA, the organization that he heads, is there to be in the forefront to get science — we anticipating things in addition to responding to them, and that the White House would interfere, as interfered in this volunteer thing, is really quite tragic. Because look, we all want to come together. We want to work together.”
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