As the national health crisis in the United States rages on, experts like National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci have stressed that the only way to return completely to normal in the aftermath of the virus is to obtain and distribute a reliable vaccine.
Until then, social distancing and other safety measures will likely be the norm.
So it might be distressing to learn that Dr. Rick Bright, the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) charged with researching and formulating a vaccine, has been demoted from his position for what he says was partisan vindictiveness.
For weeks, President Donald Trump has baselessly touted the drug hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug he claimed showed promise in curing symptoms of the virus that's killed over 48,900 Americans.
But other than scant anecdotal evidence, hydroxychloroquine shows little promise.
A recent study indicated that it could actually lead to a higher fatality rate. What's more, the drug has seen a shortened supply due to higher prescriptions, making it less available for those who actually need it for its proven treatments.
As a result, Dr. Bright said he clashed with the "political leadership" of the Health and Human Services department for his resistance to funding hydroxychloroquine research and trials.
Bright said he was demoted from his position as a result:
"I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the...pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit. I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way."
Let's face it: It's not out of character for the Trump administration to oust experts who follow scientific guidelines, rather than bending blindly to the will of a President who won't heed them.
Bright's demotion marked yet another disturbing chapter in Trump's bungled response to the crisis.
Now more than ever, science and scrutiny must lead the way.
Trump trusts his gut more than his experts.
The book Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity is available here.