Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

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.

Dr. Rick Bright testified about the nation's pandemic preparedness before a House subcommittee in June 2018. (Photo: C-Span)

Warning US Could Face 'Darkest Winter in Modern History,' Ousted Whistleblower Demands Science-Based Pandemic Response

"If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities."

Julia Conley

Dr. Rick Bright, the vaccine expert who was reportedly ousted from his position at the Health and Human Services Department after he objected to the Trump administration's Covid-19 response, plans to issue a grave warning Thursday when he testifies before a House committee regarding the his push for a science-based approach to the pandemic.

According to his written testimony, which was obtained by news outlets on Wednesday, Bright plans to tell the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health that "our window of opportunity" to avoid a deadly second wave of the coronavirus next fall is closing.

"We need to be truthful with the American people... The truth must be based on scientific evidence—and not filtered for political reasons."
—Dr. Rick Bright, former BARDA director

"If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities," Bright's testimony reads. "Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history."

Bright, who was until April the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) at HHS, filed a whistleblower complaint last week stating that he was demoted after objecting to President Donald Trump's promotion of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19. The president's repeated mentions of the anti-malarial drug are believed to be linked to a number of overdoses.

Bright also clashed with HHS leaders including Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, over the department's decision to ignore a medical supply company which offered in January to manufacture up to seven million N95 masks per month. The offer came when Covid-19 was spreading around the world and had been reported in only one patient in the United States, and Bright wrote in his whistleblower complaint that it and other warnings fell "on deaf ears."

"I spoke out then and I am testifying today because science—not politics or cronyism—must lead the way to combat this deadly virus," Bright plans to tell the committee. 

In his testimony Thursday, Bright will outline four crucial steps the federal government must take to avoid a second wave of the pandemic later this year:

  • Ramping up production of medical supplies.
  • Facilitating equitable distribution of equipment to all states.
  • Developing a national testing strategy, ensuring tests are accurate, rapid, easy to use, low cost, and available to everyone who needs them. 
  • Increasing public education about Covid-19 prevention.

"We need to be truthful with the American people... The truth must be based on scientific evidence—and not filtered for political reasons," Bright wrote. 

He added that "our leaders must lead by modeling the behavior" needed to stop the spread of Covid-19, including mask-wearing—a likely reference to reports that new White House rules requiring masks do not apply to the president, and to images of Vice President Mike Pence visiting a coronavirus ward without a mask.

Bright's testimony will come two days after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned lawmakers that the U.S. could face "needless suffering and death" if the government reopens the economy too quickly. 

"We will either be remembered for what we did or for what we failed to do to address this crisis," Bright said. "I call on all of us to act—to ensure the health, safety, and prosperity of all Americans."


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

Just a few days 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.

'Witness Intimidation. Clear as Day': Jan. 6 Panel Teases Evidence of Cover-Up Effort

"Add witness tampering to the laundry list of crimes Trump and his allies must be charged with," said professor Robert Reich.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Bombshell After Bombshell' Dropped as Jan. 6 Testimony Homes In On Trump Guilt

"Hutchinson's testimony of the deeply detailed plans of January 6 and the inaction of those in the White House in response to the violence show just how close we came to a coup," said one pro-democracy organizer.

Brett Wilkins ·


Mark Meadows 'Did Seek That Pardon, Yes Ma'am,' Hutchinson Testifies

The former aide confirmed that attorney Rudy Giuliani also sought a presidential pardon related to the January 6 attack.

Jessica Corbett ·


UN Chief Warns of 'Ocean Emergency' as Leaders Confront Biodiversity Loss, Pollution

"We must turn the tide," said Secretary-General António Guterres. "A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future."

Julia Conley ·


'I Don't F—ing Care That They Have Weapons': Trump Wanted Security to Let Armed Supporters March on Capitol

"They're not here to hurt me," Trump said on the day of the January 6 insurrection, testified a former aide to ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo