Intolerance towards dissenting voices is an indicator of more authoritative administrations. Trump is showing signs of the same. The whistleblower, Dr Rick Bright is forced to resign from National Institute of Health because he alleged that Trump administration is keeping politics over science in a time when the country is facing the historic health crisis. The national testing strategy that he proposed was rejected merely because he has become ‘politically toxic’ to Trump administration.
Bright’s allegations are in resonance with Biden campaign’s most prominent complaint. Joe Biden has framed Trump’s failure in handling of the coronavirus as his major election rhetoric.
Bright is a national level health expert and he has made similar allegations against the administration in the past. Trump is facing a credibility crisis on this account. He himself caught the virus after a year of blatant defiance. The issue will have a serious bearing on election results.
Rick Bright and his journey
Bright is a biodefence expert in immunology. He was head of Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority. The main aim of the agency is to strengthen the nation against any possible pandemic or bioterrorism attack. At present, the agency has acquired centre stage in the development of COVID-19 vaccine. Rick Bright holds expertise in vaccine development.
Bright was fired from the agency because he openly criticised Trump administration for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He was transferred to the National Institute of Health. In NIH, he proposed a testing strategy for the nation which was rejected because of his alleged anti-administration stand. Bright alleged that he was sidelined at the institute.
What were his allegations against Trump administration?
COVID-19 cases were rapidly increasing in New York and New Jersey in May. Doctors did not have any concrete medical treatment to cure the disease. Trump tried to beat the pressure by touting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment. The drug was extensively used in badly affected cities. Bright resisted the use of the malaria drug citing lack of medical evidence. After a few days, he was removed from the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority. Bright alleged that his removal was a result of his resistance.
Rick Bright also exposed that he alarmed the agency at a very early stage to ramp up the procurement and production of N95 masks for health care workers. The administration showed slack behaviour once again. His allegations were dismissed outright. Trump said that these are complaints from a disgruntled staff.
Bright further went on to give testimony before Congress that the United States did not have any full-fledged strategy to contain the pandemic. The death toll now stands at more than 210,000 in America. Experts suggest that winters are going to be worst.
Bright’s national testing strategy
The resting strategy that Bright suggested was to test even asymptomatic suspects. These people do not show symptoms of COVID-19 but keep on spreading the disease. His approach is cautious and that’s what is required at the present stroke of time.
His strategy also incorporated specific measures to contain the spread of the virus among Black and Latino peoples. Blacks are facing a disproportionately higher number of deaths as compared to the rest of the population.
His next move
Rick Bright has registered a case against the administration with an officer of Special Counsel. Special Counsel takes complaints by whistleblowers. The complaint says that he had to resign under the government’s pressure.
The issue is entirely political. Trump cannot go against the narrative he has created about the pandemic. Even after the virus caught him, he continues to downplay it. That is the only way he can hide his failure, by making his supporters realize that virus is not a big issue. Biden is trying to court him on the same. It is a direct fight. Whoever comes in between will be blown away. But the denial of Bright’s allegations will bring worse days for America.