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Gottlieb says reassigning vaccine chief ‘is going to set us back’

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Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday that the ouster of federal vaccine chief Richard Bright will “set us back” in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

“I know Rick Bright well … he was effective. He was a vaccine expert, so I was sorry to see him go,” Gottlieb said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “People knew him. I think it was important to have continuity in that job. I think changing leadership in that position right now certainly is going to set us back. I was really sorry to see that happen.”

Bright was ousted as the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) last week.

Gottlieb also predicted Bright’s ouster could “also make businesses, companies that need to collaborate with BARDA a little more reluctant now to embrace BARDA now that there’s a cloud hanging over it and some uncertainty about the leadership.”

{mosads}Bright, who was transferred to a narrower position with the National Institutes of Health, has vowed to file a whistleblower complaint over his removal and said he was pushed out for declining to invest in the wider use of two drugs President Trump has frequently touted as a potential treatment for novel coronavirus despite lack of clinical evidence for their effectiveness, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government 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 said in a statement last week.

“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,” he said.

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