Ousted vaccine official alleges he was demoted for prioritizing ‘science and safety’

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A former top vaccine official removed from his post last month alleged in a whistleblower complaint on Tuesday that he was reassigned to a less prestigious role because he tried to “prioritize science and safety over political expediency” and raised health concerns over a drug repeatedly pushed by President Trump and other administration officials as a possible cure for coronavirus.

Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, was removed from his post on April 20 after having served as BARDA director for nearly four years. He was reassigned to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health that the Department of Health and Human Services touted as part of a “bold new plan” to defeat covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Bright portrays himself in the 89-page complaint as one of the administration’s health officials trying to sound the alarm about the virus as early as January. He said he called for the rapid development of treatments and vaccines, as well as the stockpiling of additional N95 masks and ventilators, at a time when HHS political leadership, including Secretary Alex Azar, appeared to him to be underestimating the threat.

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