Bright told The New York Times on Wednesday that he believed his removal was because of his internal opposition to pursuing investments in malaria drugs as potential treatments for Covid-19, which President Donald Trump has touted without scientific evidence. Three people with knowledge of HHS’ recent acquisition of tens of millions of doses of those drugs said that Bright had supported those acquisitions in internal communications, with one official saying that Bright praised the move as a win for the health department as part of an email exchange that was first reported by Reuters last week, although Bright’s message was not publicly reported.
“If Bright opposed hydroxychloroquine, he certainly didn’t make that clear from his email — quite the opposite,” said the official, who has seen copies of the email exchanges.
In a statement late Wednesday, an HHS official directly linked Bright’s decisions to the health department’s acquisition of the malaria drugs.
“As it relates to chloroquine, it was Dr. Bright who requested an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for donations of chloroquine that Bayer and Sandoz recently made to the Strategic National Stockpile for use on COVID-19 patients,” spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said. “The EUA is what made the donated product available for use in combating COVID-19.”