KEY POINTS

  • Bright resigned from government duty in October
  • He said he was pressured by Trump officials
  • His appointment comes the same day as renewed vaccine hopes

A new member of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force was a Trump administration official who said his alarms over the pandemic were ignored.

Like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Rick Bright is among the handful of health advisors concerned with President Donald Trump's handling of the pandemic. And like Fauci, he’s been subjected to political pressure for his views.

Ousted from his position as the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority earlier this year, Bright in May filed a whistleblower complaint alleging political interference.

“I was pressured to let politics and cronyism drive decisions over the opinions of the best scientists we have in government,” he told reporters at the time. As early as January, he said his concerns about national preparedness were met with "indifference which then developed into hostility."

He resigned from government service in October. He’s now a member of the transition team for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, CNN reported on Monday.

Tackling the pandemic is among the four early pillars for the transition team, alongside issues related to climate change, racial equity and economic recovery. Part of the agenda includes investing some $25 billion on vaccine manufacturing and distribution plans.

In an apparent about-face to Trump’s implicit distrust of science, the Biden-Harris transition team said its decisions on the pandemic would be guided by healthcare experts. The team will be led by former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration David Kessler, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor at Yale University.

The news comes as pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday their trial vaccine for COVID-19 is 90% effective and could be available to the general public before the end of the year.

Biden cautioned that, even if a drug is ready this year, it does not change the immediate calculus of the pandemic and people should still wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing.

US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has routinely worn a facemask in public as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and set an example for Americans, a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump who has largely refused to do so US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has routinely worn a facemask in public as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and set an example for Americans, a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump who has largely refused to do so Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB