Hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved in the US and across the world if the American government had acted differently in the early days of the pandemic, Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said.
“Hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States and around the world would be saved, people would still be alive today if our government had listened to the science, had been honest and truthful with Americans from the beginning, had told Americans the real risk of this virus and put tools and information and clear messaging out to help people save their lives and protect themselves from getting this virus,” Bright said.
Bright led BARDA between 2016 to 2020. The office is a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services that has been central to the response to the coronavirus outbreak. Bright is now president of the Rockefeller Foundation.
“If we had initiated testing, a really robust nationwide testing strategy to tell people where the virus was and tell people who were infected, if we had done more to prepare for the vaccine administration rollout when the vaccine became available,” he said. “We could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives of our loved ones and relatives and others in our community.”
Bright was removed from his role as head of BARDA in April 2020. He filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that he was removed from his post in retaliation for opposing the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19.
He also said that it’s important to listen to other whistleblowers who come forward.
“We need to strengthen them, listen to them. They are speaking truth to power, regardless of who’s in office. They know the truth, they are our eyes and our ears, and they can help us be better and respond more effectively and end this pandemic sooner," he said.