Head of U.S. Agency Helping Develop Covid Vaccine Leaves Post

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(Bloomberg) -- The director of the U.S. government agency responsible for helping shepherd a vaccine for the novel coronavirus to market has stepped down.

Rick Bright, who has led the the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority since 2016, will take a smaller role at the National Institutes of Health.

Bright will work on a plan to accelerate the development of diagnostic tests similar to a public-private partnership announced last week between NIH and the biopharmaceutical industry to identify and prioritize treatment and vaccine candidates for Covid-19, said Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman with the Department of Health and Human Services.

“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,” Oakley said.

Oakley didn’t further elaborate on the circumstances of Bright’s departure from BARDA.

BARDA is an integral part of the federal government’s efforts to contain the pandemic and find ways to prevent future outbreaks. The agency has been working to support clinical trials of vaccines under development by Johnson & Johnson as well as Moderna Inc.

Bright couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. His departure was earlier reported by STAT News.

Gary Disbrow with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will serve as the acting director of BARDA, Oakley said.

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