The director of the agency responsible for leading the charge on the production and purchase of vaccines in the Trump administration is no longer leading the agency as of Tuesday, CNN has confirmed.
Dr. Rick Bright had led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which has been central to the response to the coronavirus outbreak, since 2016. An acting director has taken over in his position, though the reason behind Bright’s sudden departure is still unclear.
The move was first reported by STAT News.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Bright’s move in a statement to CNN and said he will now lead a new government project: a public-private partnership on vaccine development and treatment.
“On April 17, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new public-private partnership – the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) partnership – to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options. At the same time, given the simultaneous importance of accelerating the development of diagnostic tests for COVID-19, Dr. Rick Bright will transfer the skills he has applied as Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to the National Institutes of Health, as part of a bold plan to accelerate the development and deployment of novel point-of-care testing platforms,” the HHS statement said.
The spokesperson added: “Dr. Bright brings extensive experience and expertise in facilitating powerful public-private partnerships that advance the health and well-being of the American people. Gary Disbrow with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will serve as the acting director of BARDA.”
Bright had been with the agency as its influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division director since 2010 before he was tapped to lead it in late 2016.