• Dr. Richard Bright says he was ousted from his job as the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for refusing to promote President Trump's pet cure for coronavirus
  • Bright says even if a vaccine is developed, the administration has no strategy for producing an adequate supply
  • He said he fears the rush to develop the vaccine will result in crucial steps being missed

Dr. Richard Bright on Thursday indicted the Trump administration response to the coronavirus pandemic, telling a House committee there’s no master plan for responding to the outbreak. Bright, a vaccination expert and the former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, filed a whistleblower complaint over the government’s failure to heed his warnings about the COVID-19 outbreak.

“There is no master, coordinated plan on how to respond to this outbreak,” said Bright, who claims he was removed as head of BARDA for refusing to promote President Trump’s assertion that the malaria drug chloroquine would be an effective treatment for COVID-19. He said there was pressure to bypass normal vetting procedures, and he was told to create an “expanded access” program. Subsequent research has cast doubt on the drug’s efficacy in fighting the disease.

He said his early warnings about the pandemic and U.S. equipment shortages were ignored by his superiors in the administration.

In prepared testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Bright warned administration inaction could result in the “darkest” winter the U.S. ever has faced if the virus surges at the same time the annual flu epidemic hits.

“It sounds like Mr. Bright really hasn’t been paying much attention at all. In fact, when he talks about the pandemic playbook, we actually put into place a pandemic preparedness document with recommendations long before the pandemic ever came,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News. “It sounds like he hasn’t been paying attention when he suggests that Americans should social distance and wash their hands. These are all things we’ve said millions of times.”

The Department of Health and Human Services also pushed back, issuing a release calling Bright’s whistleblower complaint one-sided and full of misinformation. It said he was not privy to everything the administration was doing.

Trump fell back on the same response he has had to other critics of his handling of the pandemic.

Under questioning, Bright said he believes: “Lives were endangered, and I believe lives were lost. Not only that, we were forced to procure the supplies from other countries without the right quality standards, so even our doctors and nurses in the hospitals today are wearing N95-marked masks from other countries that are not providing the sufficient protection that a US-standard N95 mask would provide them.”

He said even if a vaccine for the virus is developed, producing enough for the country is still a concern.

“We need to have a strategy and plan in place now to make sure that we can not only fill that vaccine, make it, distribute it, administer it in a fair and equitable plan. We don't have that yet and it is a significant concern,” he said.

Additionally, he said the rush to develop a vaccine could result in “critical steps” being skipped, which would have an impact on its efficacy.

“There are many diseases we've attempted to make vaccines for in history and we still haven't been able to do so. It takes many opportunities and many different approaches,” Bright said, echoing Mike Ryan, director of the World Health Organization's emergency program, who told the agency’s daily news conference Wednesday the virus may never be eradicated.