Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

36 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing of the coronavirus task force at the White House on April 22, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

'Cronyism Ahead of Science': Federal Doctor Says He Was Fired for Resisting Trump Promotion of Untested Covid-19 Treatments

Dr. Rick Bright said he "resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public."

Jake Johnson

A high-ranking federal scientist and one of the leading vaccine experts in the U.S. said in a withering statement on Wednesday that he was fired from his post as director of the Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority because he questioned and resisted President Donald Trump's promotion of untested Covid-19 treatments, particularly hydroxychloroquine.

Dr. Rick Bright, who was moved to a post at the National Institutes of Health, said he believes the "transfer 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."

"A global pandemic is not the time to shuffle personnel, or contradict and remove experts for wanting to do their job well. These reports are incredibly disturbing and I will be pushing for answers."
—Sen. Patty Murray

"I also resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections," Bright added. "Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit."

Bright, who was playing a leading role in the effort to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, said he decided to speak out because the Trump administration has put "politics and cronyism ahead of science" in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, despite warnings from public health experts, Trump touted hydroxychloroquine as a "game-changer"—though the president has toned down his promotion of the anti-malaria drug in recent days after a study found it offered no benefit to Covid-19 patients.

Trump claimed during a press briefing Wednesday evening that he has "never heard of" Bright, who said in his statement that he "resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public."

"These drugs," said Bright, "have potentially serious risks associated with them, including increased mortality observed in some recent studies in patients with Covid-19."

In a statement late Wednesday following news of Bright's removal, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said "we need to be listening to experts and science, not pushing them aside."

"A global pandemic is not the time to shuffle personnel, or contradict and remove experts for wanting to do their job well," Murray said. "These reports are incredibly disturbing and I will be pushing for answers."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just ONE DAY left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·


Assange Makes Final Appeal Against US Extradition

"If Julian Assange is not free, neither are we," said a protester at a Friday demonstration against the WikiLeaks founder's impending transfer. "None of us is free."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Payoff for 40 Years of Dark Money': Supreme Court Delivers for Corporate America

"It was the conservative court's larger agenda to gut the regulatory state and decimate executive powers to protect Americans' health and safety," warned one expert.

Jake Johnson ·


NARAL Pro-Choice Endorses Fetterman—Who Vows to End Senate Filibuster to Protect Abortion Rights

"We know we can count on him to boldly fight for abortion rights and access," said the head of one of the nation's largest reproductive rights advocacy groups.

Jon Queally ·


Texas Panel Denounced Over Attempt to Rebrand Slavery as 'Involuntary Relocation'

One progressive group called the proposal "a blatant attempt to whitewash history to fit a racist worldview."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo