By Jan Wolfe
(Reuters) – The U.S. government has agreed to compensate a scientist who filed a whistle-blowing complaint that said former President Donald Trump’s administration failed in its initial response to the coronavirus pandemic, the scientist’s lawyer said on Monday. .
Dr. Rick Bright, a former member of the US Department of Health and Human Services, reached an agreement with the agency, said attorney Debra Katz.
The settlement resolves “Bright’s allegations that HHS retaliated against him for denouncing the Trump Administration’s inappropriate and irresponsible response to the coronavirus pandemic,” Katz said in a statement.
Neither party disclosed specific details of the settlement, but Katz said “Dr. Bright has been compensated to the fullest extent allowed by law” and “will receive back payments and compensatory damages.”
The US Office of Special Advisers, an independent government agency that hears complaints from whistleblowers, said in a statement that it helped facilitate a “mutually acceptable resolution.”
HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bright was ousted in April 2020 as director of the Advanced Biomedical Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, a part of HHS responsible for developing drugs to combat the coronavirus.
Bright said he was removed and demoted because he expressed concern about preparing for a pandemic.
HHS has disputed Bright’s account, saying that last year he was transferred to a job in which he was tasked with spending about $ 1 billion to develop diagnostic tests.
Bright testified at a congressional hearing in May 2020 that he would “never forget” an email he received in January 2020 from an American supplier of medical grade masks warning of a serious shortage.
“He said ‘we’re into shit. The world is. We have to act,'” Bright told lawmakers. “And I took it to the highest level I could from HHS and got no response.”
Bright said he was kicked out of BARDA in part because he resisted efforts to push the drug hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19, something advocated by Trump himself.
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