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Rick Bright: US coronavirus response has been ‘chaotic’

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  • Rick Bright, a scientist who was fired from the Department of Health and Human Services last month, said in an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that the US coronavirus response has been “chaotic.”
  • “We don’t yet have a national strategy to respond fully to this pandemic,” he said in the interview that aired on Sunday night. “The best scientists that we have in our government who are working really hard to try to figure this out aren’t getting that clear, cohesive leadership, strategic plan message yet. Until they get that, it’s still gonna be chaotic.” 
  • Bright has said that he was fired due to resistance to push the experimental drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19. He filed a whistleblower complaint earlier this month accusing the HHS of ignoring his early warnings about the pandemic, CNN reported
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Rick Bright, a scientist who was fired from the Department of Health and Human Services last month, said in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday night that the US coronavirus response has been “chaotic” and lacking cohesive leadership. 

Bright was the director of the HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority since 2016 but was reassigned to the National Institutes of Health in April. He has said that he was fired due to resistance to push the experimental drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19. He filed a whistleblower complaint earlier this month accusing the HHS of ignoring his early warnings about the pandemic, CNN reported

Bright testified before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last week and said the Trump administration was unprepared to handle a coronavirus outbreak. Before the testimony, Trump called Bright a “disgruntled employee.” 

In an interview with “60 Minutes,” Bright said he was “not disgruntled,” but rather “frustrated at a lack of leadership.” 

“I am not disgruntled,” he said. “I am frustrated at a lack of leadership. I am frustrated at a lack of urgency to get a head start on developing lifesaving tools for Americans. I’m frustrated at our inability to be heard as scientists. Those things frustrate me.” 

He said that the US response to the coronavirus has been “chaotic” and lacking “cohesive leadership.” 

“We don’t yet have a national strategy to respond fully to this pandemic,” he said. “The best scientists that we have in our government who are working really hard to try to figure this out aren’t getting that clear, cohesive leadership, strategic plan message yet. Until they get that, it’s still gonna be chaotic.” 

Bright addressed the Trump administration’s repeated touting of hydroxychloroquine and said he never thought it would be a “gamechanger” for the US, which has already recorded over 1.4 million coronavirus cases and over 89,000 deaths.

“The limited data available told us that it could be dangerous. It could have negative side effects. And it could even lead to death,” he said of the medication.

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