WASHINGTON, D.C. – The New York Times reported yesterday that the Trump administration’s removal of a career official from his role at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) may have been due to the official’s insistence that science — “not ‘politics and cronyism’” — drive the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
This wouldn’t be the first time that a public official found their job at risk after diverging from Trump’s science-defying messaging on COVID-19. Trump reportedly threatened to fire the CDC’s head of respiratory diseases for sounding the alarm on the pandemic in February, when the President was still downplaying the virus’ threat to the public.
Career health officials have also felt pressured not to voice concerns about potential health hazards of hydroxychloroquine, Trump’s favored pick for a COVID-19 drug, due to the potential consequences of contradicting the President.
“Health experts shouldn’t feel like they’re putting their careers in jeopardy simply by stating facts that the President doesn’t like,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Experts should be driving policy and research decisions at the administration — especially during a public health crisis. They shouldn’t be forced to choose between stating honest facts and keeping their jobs. Congress needs to provide proper oversight to ensure the administration is listening to scientists rather than politicizing them.”