(CNN) – While scientists race to find a coronavirus vaccine, one of nation’s top experts say he was abruptly ousted from his position overseeing its production.
Dr. Rick Bright led BARDA, a biomedical research subdivision of the Department of Health and Human Services, and was reassigned to a narrower position at the National Institutes of Health Tuesday.
The reason, Bright said in a statement, “… was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.” Adding, “… to combat this deadly virus, science, not politics or cronyism, has to lead the way.”
Bright also claimed his opposition to the broad use of hydroxychloroquine contributed to his demotion.
The drug, typically used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, has been heavily promoted by President Trump as a possible coronavirus treatment despite little evidence that it helps at all.
“Well I’ve never heard of him. Guy says he was pushed out of a job, maybe he was maybe he wasn’t,” President Trump said. “You’d have to hear the other side. I don’t know who he is.”
Doctor Bright says he will file a complaint with the HHS inspector general over his demotion.
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