BARDA Official Says Demotion Related To Efforts To Press For Hydroxychloroquine Testing; Media Outlets Examine Trump’s Treatment Of Scientists

New York Times: Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster
“The official who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration had put ‘politics and cronyism ahead of science.’ Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and removed as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response. He was given a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health…” (Shear et al., 4/22).

New York Times: Trump’s Scientists Push Back on His Claim That Virus May Not Return This Fall
“In February, President Trump told the public that the coronavirus should ‘go away’ by April. In March, he said that the virus may ‘wash’ away by summer. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump told the American public that the virus ‘won’t be coming back in the form that it was’ this fall or winter. He then mused that it might not come back at all. The scientists flanking him at a White House briefing explicitly said otherwise…” (Rogers, 4/22).

Reuters: Special Report: Former Labradoodle breeder was tapped to lead U.S. pandemic task force
“…Azar tapped a trusted aide with minimal public health experience to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19. The aide, Brian Harrison, had joined the department after running a dog-breeding business for six years. Five sources say some officials in the White House derisively called him ‘the dog breeder.’ Azar’s optimistic public pronouncement and choice of an inexperienced manager are emblematic of his agency’s oft-troubled response to the crisis. His HHS is a behemoth department, overseeing almost every federal public health agency in the country, with a $1.3 trillion budget that exceeds the gross national product of most countries…” (Roston/Taylor, 4/22).

Washington Post: Under Trump, coronavirus scientists can speak — as long as they mostly toe the line
“…The result is a culture in which public health officials find themselves scrambling to appease and placate Trump, a mercurial boss who is focused as much on political and economic considerations as scientific ones…” (Parker et al., 4/22).

Additional coverage of the Trump administration’s treatment of scientists is available from Financial Times, The Hill, New York Times, and POLITICO.