WASHINGTON (1) – A whistleblower who says he was faraway from his authorities submit for elevating considerations about coronavirus preparedness advised a congressional listening to on Thursday that the USA may face “the darkest winter” of latest instances if it doesn’t enhance its response to the pandemic.

Hours after President Donald Trump railed in opposition to him on Twitter, whistleblower Rick Vivid testified to a U.S. Home of Representatives panel about readiness for the outbreak.

Vivid was eliminated final month as director of the Biomedical Superior Analysis and Improvement Authority, or BARDA, part of the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies answerable for creating medication to battle the coronavirus.

“What we do have to be carried out fastidiously with steerage from one of the best scientific minds. Our window of alternative is closing. If we fail to enhance our response now, based mostly on science, I concern the pandemic will worsen and be extended,” Vivid mentioned throughout his testimony.

The pandemic has contaminated practically 1.four million individuals in the USA, gutted the economic system and killed greater than 82,000.

Vivid testified to the subcommittee on well being that he would “always remember” an e-mail he received in January from a U.S. provider of medical-grade face masks warning of a dire scarcity.

“He mentioned ‘we’re in deep shit. The world is. We have to act,’” Vivid mentioned. “And I pushed that ahead to the very best stage that I may of HHS and received no response.”

Vivid testified that the U.S. nonetheless lacked a complete plan for guaranteeing a provide of fundamental provides like swabs wanted to manage coronavirus checks.

Trump, who has been pushing for the U.S. economic system to reopen shortly, dismissed Vivid as a “disgruntled worker” on Twitter on Thursday morning earlier than the listening to begun.

Dr. Richard Vivid, former director of the Biomedical Superior Analysis and Improvement Authority, testifies throughout a Home Power and Commerce Subcommittee on Well being listening to to debate defending scientific integrity in response to the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Might 14, 2020. Shawn Thew/Pool by way of REUTERS

In a while Thursday, Trump advised reporters on the White Home that he had watched a few of Vivid’s listening to.

“To me he’s nothing greater than a extremely disgruntled, sad individual,” Trump mentioned, including that he didn’t know Vivid.

“The whole lot he’s complaining about was achieved,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar advised reporters.

Earlier this week, main U.S. infectious illness skilled Dr. Anthony Fauci warned a Senate committee {that a} untimely lifting of lockdowns may result in further outbreaks of the lethal coronavirus. Trump on Wednesday described Fauci’s warning as not acceptable.

In a whistleblower grievance filed with a authorities watchdog final week, Vivid mentioned that he warned in regards to the virus in January and was met with hostility from HHS leaders.

Vivid, who was reassigned to a brand new authorities job final month, mentioned he was ousted from BARDA as a result of he resisted efforts to push the medication hydroxychloroquine and the associated chloroquine as cures for COVID-19, the respiratory sickness attributable to the coronavirus.

Vivid mentioned within the assertion final month that the U.S. authorities has promoted the medicines as a “panacea” regardless that they “clearly lack scientific advantage.”

HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley has disputed Vivid’s account, saying in an announcement on Tuesday that he was transferred to a job the place he was entrusted to spend round $1 billion to develop diagnostic testing.

“We’re deeply upset that he has not proven as much as work on behalf of the American individuals and lead on this important endeavor,” Oakley mentioned.

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Vivid testified that he has not began his new authorities job as a result of he has hypertension and took a medical depart.

The Home subcommittee was additionally listening to on Thursday from Mike Bowen, co-owner of Status Ameritech, the biggest U.S. surgical masks producer.

It was Bowen who despatched Vivid an electronic mail in January warning that the USA would run out of medical-grade face masks if it didn’t ramp up manufacturing, in keeping with paperwork included in Vivid’s whistleblower grievance.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Makini Brice; Extra reporting by Jeff Mason and Doina Chiacu; Modifying by Scott Malone, Cynthia Osterman and Alistair Bell