Dr. Rick Bright, the former director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine who was ousted last April, has settled a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services regarding his removal from his position, according to his attorney.
Bright and HHS came to a financial agreement that compensated him for losses including salary, benefits and pension contributions after he was abruptly removed in April 2020 from his role as the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. He was reassigned to a narrower position at the National Institutes of Health, which his attorneys described as being “sidelined,” before he eventually resigned from the federal government.
As a result of the new agreement, the employment complaint Bright filed last May has been dismissed.
“I am grateful to have resolved my employment claims so I can focus all of my attention on my lifelong career goal: containing global outbreaks and preventing pandemics to ensure the world never again suffers the consequences we have seen over the past 18 months,” Bright said in a statement.
In a statement, an HHS spokesman confirmed the settlement on the whistleblower claim.
“The Agency would like to thank Dr. Bright for his dedicated public service and for the contributions he made to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic while he served as BARDA Director. We wish him well in his new endeavors.”
Bright filed a second complaint with the Office of the Special Counsel alleging wrongdoing within HHS, which is ongoing. That complaint included “the prioritization of the Trump political agenda over the health of the American public constituting a grave danger to the public health and safety, and the circumvention of established protocol in order to award lucrative contracts without scientific merit,” according to his attorney, Debra Katz.
Bright is cooperating with that investigation.
Since March, Bright has served as the senior vice president of pandemic prevention and response for the Rockefeller Foundation.