US vaccine expert alleges ouster for refusing to push Trump-touted drug

In a study, Hydroxychloroquine was found to offer no benefit in Covid-19 cases.

Washington: The former director of the federal government’s coronavirus vaccine development claims he was ousted from his position and demoted because he refused to push hydroxychloroquine as a treatment even as President Trump and his allies touted it as a miracle drug.

“Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit,” Dr. Richard Bright wrote in a letter released by his legal team.

“While I am prepared to look at all options and to think ‘outside the box’ for effective treatments, I rightly resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public,” Bright continued. “I insisted that these drugs be provided only to hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 while under the supervision of a physician.”

Bright, who headed the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, was demoted to a position at the National Institutes of Health on Tuesday, which he claims is an example of the Trump administration putting “cronyism ahead of science.”

In his letter, Bright called on the Health and Human Services inspector general to investigate why he was demoted. Several prominent Republicans, including President Trump, have invested in a company that sells a brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine. The president has previously asked what patients “have to lose” by trying the medication, which he described as a “game-changer.”

“These drugs have potentially serious risks associated with them, including increased mortality observed in some recent studies in patients with COVID-19,” Bright writes. “Sidelining me in the middle of this pandemic and placing politics and cronyism ahead of science puts lives at risk and stunts national efforts to safely and effectively address this urgent public health crisis.”

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