Dr. Rick Bright, who blew the whistle on the U.S. government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, has been named a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force, according to a November 9 press release from the Biden-Harris transition team.
Immunologist Dr. Bright became the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Influenza Division International Program and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in 2016. He filed a whistleblower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel in early May, alleging that HHS retaliated against him for urging the U.S. government to dedicate “appropriate resources and expert personnel” to combat the spread of the virus, according to the complaint. The complaint stated that “‘political leadership’ in the HHS consistently criticized Bright and his efforts to ‘invest early in vaccine development as well as in critical supplies such as masks, respirators, and swabs,’ which were already in short supply,” according to previous WNN reporting.
The complaint also alleged that HHS retaliated against Dr. Bright when they moved him from his HHS position to a job at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He submitted his “involuntary resignation” from NIH on October 6 in the third addendum to the original whistleblower complaint. The addendum stated that Dr. Bright had been hindered in trying to make health recommendations in his new position and at times was given no assignments to complete.
Now, Dr. Bright has joined a group of experts in a task force that Biden has assembled to combat the spread of COVID-19. The Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board is comprised of “leading public health experts who will advise President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and the Transition’s COVID-19 staff,” according to the press release. “The task force will be co-chaired by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler and Dr. Marvella Nunez-Smith of Yale University,” a CNBC article states. Dr. Beth Cameron and Dr. Rebecca Katz will serve as “advisors to the Transition on COVID-19 and will work closely with the Advisory Board,” the press release announces.
Dr. Bright will be joined by Dr. Luciana Borio of In-Q-Tel and the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the Department of Bioethics at The Clinical Center of NIH, Dr. Atul Gawande of Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Celine Gounder of the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Dr. Julie Morita of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Chicago’s former Health Commissioner, Dr. Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Ms. Loyce Pace of the Global Health Council, and Dr. Robert Rodriguez and Dr. Eric Goosby of the UCSF School of Medicine.
“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” said President-elect Biden in the press release. “The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”