The things Dr. Rick Bright complained about in his testimony to Congress on Thursday were done, Health Secretary Alex Azar alleged.
“Everything he was complaining about was achieved,” Azar told reporters in Washington around noon.
Administration officials procured respirators at the direction of President Donald Trump and have been working hard on developing a vaccine for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, Azar said, adding: “He said we need a Manhattan project on a vaccine. This president initiates a vaccine Manhattan project.”
“His allegations do not hold water. They do not hold water,” he added later.
Bright’s job as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), an office in Azar’s agency, was to lead the development of a vaccine.
“While we’re launching Operation Warp Speed, he’s not showing up to work to be part of that,” Azar said, referring to a recent effort to speed up the vaccine development timeline.
“This is like someone who was in choir is trying to say he was a soloist back then,” he charged.
Azar declined to appear at the same hearing as Bright to answer questions from lawmakers, instead traveling with President Donald Trump to Pennsylvania to tour a manufacturing company and see changes put into place to replenish the nation’s stockpile of medical safety equipment.
Bright was recently shifted from heading BARDA to a testing position at the National Institutes of Health.
He told lawmakers Thursday morning that the Trump administration does not have a proper plan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, warning of a “dark winter” this year.
The doctor also said concerns he conveyed about using hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, against COVID-19 led to his ouster.
Trump, an early proponent of hydroxychloroquine, told reporters that “a lot of people have sworn by” the medicine.
“And, yet, I’ll tell you what. I watched this guy for a little while this morning. I’ll tell you what, to me he’s nothing more than a really disgruntled, unhappy person,” he said.
“I don’t want to meet him but I watched him, and he looks like an angry, disgruntled employee who, frankly, according to some people, didn’t do a very good job.”