Dr. Rick Bright, the ousted director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine, will testify before Congress this morning.
He is expected to say the Trump administration was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic and warn that the US will face “unprecedented illness and fatalities” without additional preparations.
“Our window of opportunity is closing. 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 is expected to say, according to his prepared testimony. “Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history.”
His testimony is part of the second high-profile congressional hearing this week where the Trump administration’s response to Covid-19 pandemic — and the President’s actions — are under public scrutiny.
About Bright: Bright filed an extensive whistleblower complaint last week alleging his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored and that his caution at a treatment favored by Trump led to his removal.
Bright will reiterate in his testimony that he believes he was removed from his post because he “resisted efforts to promote and enable broad access to an unproven drug, chloroquine, to the American people without transparent information on the potential health risks.”
Bright also plans to call for several key steps to improve the federal government’s response to the pandemic and head off a spike in cases in the fall, including increasing public education of preventative measures, ramping up production of essential medical supplies and developing a national testing strategy.
“The virus is out there, it’s everywhere. We need to be able to find it, to isolate it and to stop it from infecting more people,” Bright writes in his prepared testimony. “We need tests that are accurate, rapid, easy to use, low cost, and available to everyone who needs them.”