SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The man who was once in charge of the office involved in developing a COVID-19 vaccine, until he was fired, is set to testify before Congress on Thursday.
According to Dr. Rick Bright, he was terminated from his position for insisting the government invest more funding into coronavirus efforts.
ABC4 News obtained a copy of Dr. Bright’s written testimony, in which he explains why he worries this year will be what he calls, “the darkest winter in modern history.”
The whistleblower said the Trump Administration was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, writing, “I pushed for our government to obtain virus samples from China and to secure more funding for BARDA to be able to get started quickly on the development of critical medical countermeasures….” The written testimony goes on to say, “I pushed HHS to ramp up U.S. production of masks, respirators and other critical supplies, such as medicine, syringes and swabs.”
The immunologist wrote that his urgency was “dismissed” and he was “cut out of key high-level meetings to combat COVID-19.”
He makes a sobering prediction that without clear planning and implementation of steps he and other experts have outlined, “there will be a resurgence of the COVID-19 this fall, greatly compounding the challenges of seasonal influenza and putting an unprecedented strain on our health care system.”
Dr. Bright has a grim warning that if a national, coordinated response is not developed, the pandemic will “get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities.”
The deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response for Health and Human Services, also outlined recommendations on how the federal government can improve its response to the pandemic and limit some of the expected surge in cases in the fall.