HHS doctor says he was removed from post after disagreeing with WH over coronavirus response

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The doctor who oversaw the agency charged with research into countering the coronavirus said Wednesday that he was dismissed after resisting efforts by the Trump administration to expand the availability of an anti-malarial drug pushed by President Trump. Dr. Rick Bright said in a statement that he believed his transfer Tuesday to a role with fewer responsibilities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was in response to his call for the federal government to “invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.” Bright, represented by the law firm Katz, Marshall & Banks — whose famous clients included Christine Blasey Ford, who accused future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 2018 — had led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a small but important agency during a pandemic, since 2016 after working in its Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division. The unit, part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has been tasked with countering chemical, biological and radiological threats, as well as infectious diseases.