HHS official plans to file whistleblower complaint


Rick Bright, deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response for Health and Human Services (HHS), listens during a House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2018.

Toya Sarno Jordan | Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal vaccine scientist who was ousted from leading an agency dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak will soon file a whistleblower complaint alleging retaliation for his resistance against a push to promote a coronavirus treatment promoted by President Donald Trump, his lawyers said Thursday.

Rick Bright’s lawyers said that they would file formal complaints with both the federal Office of Special Counsel and the inspector general of the Health and Human Services Department over his removal this week as director of the  Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

The complaints will detail “the retaliatory treatment to which he was subjected by HHS political leadership after raising appropriate science-based concerns about White House pressure on treatment and vaccines related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the lawyers, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, said in a prepared statement.

 “In our filing we will make clear that Dr. Bright was sidelined for one reason only — because he resisted efforts to provide unfettered access to potentially dangerous drugs, including chloroquine, a drug promoted by the Administration as a panacea, but which is untested and possibly deadly when used improperly,” the lawyers said.

“The facts and concerns raised by Dr. Bright are compelling and well-documented and soon they will be public.”

Bright in a statement on Wednesday also said that he believed he was removed from his post because he insisted that “the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic” be invested “into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.”

His lawyers on Thursday said,  “The administration is now making demonstrably false statements about Dr. Bright, one of the nation’s leading vaccine, drug and diagnostic experts, to deflect attention from its retaliatory removal of him as the Director of” BARDA.

The attorneys, who specialize in whistleblower cases, called “an exemplary public servant as demonstrated by the multiple excellent performance reviews he has received to date.”

“It remains Dr. Bright’s sincerest hope that once he makes these facts known he will be reinstated to his role as Director of BARDA and that he will be able to focus his efforts on stopping the pandemic without further political pressure or distractions.”

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