Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug touted often by the US President Donald Trump as a treatment option for Covid-19, is back at the center of politics around the novel coronavirus pandemic. This time, Dr. Rick Bright, former director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), has openly called out the top leadership of politicizing the pandemic and placing "politics and cronyism above science".
In a statement to the US media, Dr. Bright accused the Trump administration of removing him from his job as the director of BARDA, for his opposition to the use of hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19 treatment. In fact, a recent US-government funded study showed that far from curing, hydroxychloroquine does more harm to coronavirus patients.
Bright says he limited broad use of chloroquine
On Tuesday (April 21), Bright was removed from the position of director at BARDA and was "moved to a lesser position in the National Institutes of Health". According to Bright, he was demoted due to his opposition to the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine treatment, for Covid-19 patients, AFP reported.
"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", Dr. Bright said in a written statement.
According to him, he limited the broad use of the anti-malaria drug, "promoted by the administration as panacea". Bright believes that he "rightly resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public".
He went on to accuse the leadership of politicizing BARDA, in the middle of a pandemic and placing "politics and cronyism ahead of science". According to him, he and other scientists were pressurized to "fund companies with political connections as well as efforts that lack scientific merit".
Trump responds to Bright's accusation
In his daily White House press briefing, when Trump was asked about Bright's ouster, he said he had never heard of him. "I've never heard of him.. If the guy says he was pushed out of a job, maybe he was, maybe he wasn't", Trump replied.
Trump recommends hydroxychloroquine
On multiple occasions, US President Donald Trump has backed hydroxychloroquine treatment for Covid-19 patients. The drug has been widely touted by Trump, despite its known side-effects in several patients
US study on hydroxychloroquine
In the study funded by the US government, researchers found the anti-malaria drug was totally ineffective against novel coronavirus. The treatment, in fact, led to more fatalities, as compared to the standard care. In use since the 1950s, hydroxychloroquine is used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.