POST 81. December 1, 2020. CORONAVIRUS. “Dr. Atlas, … who espoused controversial theories and rankled government scientists while advising President Trump on the coronavirus pandemic, resigned…”

(President Donald Trump and his deputies are privately admonishing Food and Drug Administration officials for not moving faster to authorize promising coronavirus vaccines.)

(..the White House said it’s still planning to host holiday parties despite dire warnings from health experts..)

“The move was not entirely unexpected. Dr. Atlas joined the White House in August as a special government employee for a limited term after he caught Mr. Trump’s eye with his frequent appearances on Fox News over the summer. Dr. Atlas’s term was set to expire this week.

“I worked hard with a singular focus — to save lives and help Americans through this pandemic,” Dr. Atlas wrote in a letter that he posted Monday night on Twitter, adding, “I always relied on the latest science and evidence, without any political consideration or influence.” Fox News earlier reported his resignation.

But some of Dr. Atlas’s Trump administration colleagues would most likely contradict that assessment, citing views starkly different from those put forth by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by other government scientists. Dr. Atlas has argued, for example, that the science of mask wearing is uncertain and that children cannot spread the coronavirus.

Even more contentious was his libertarian vision of the role of the government in the pandemic. In Dr. Atlas’s view, the government’s job was not to stamp out the virus but simply to protect its most vulnerable citizens as Covid-19 took its course.

His argument was that most people infected with the coronavirus would not get seriously ill, and at some point, enough people would have antibodies from Covid-19 to deprive the virus of carriers — so-called herd immunity. Dr. Atlas also railed against anything that smacked of a lockdown or business closure.

Public health experts were appalled and warned that his ideas were dangerous and would have disastrous results.” (A)

“Since joining the White House task force, Atlas has been widely criticized by scientists:

In September, more than 100 of Atlas’ former colleagues at Stanford Medical School signed a letter warning that many of his “opinions and statements run counter to established science.”

Bill Gates also suggested that Atlas was hired only because he “agrees” with what Gates called the White House’s “crackpot COVID theories.”

Later that month, fellow task force member and top US infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN he was concerned that Atlas was feeding information “really taken either out of context or actually incorrect” to the president.

Around the same time, CDC Director Robert Redfield was overheard by a reporter criticizing Atlas in a phone call, saying “everything he says is false.”

In October, former CDC Director William Foege wrote to Redfield saying the Trump administration had turned the CDC’s reputation “from gold to tarnished brass.” Foege said Atlas’ joining the task force was what prompted him to speak out.

In response to Redfield and Fauci’s criticism, Atlas told Business Insider in late September: “All of my policy recommendations to the president are directly backed by the current science, and they are in line with what many of the world’s top medical scientists advise … Career government public health officials do not have a monopoly on knowledge.” (B)

“Atlas’ field of expertise is in magnetic resonance imaging. He wrote a book on the subject and co-authored numerous scientific studies on the economics of medical imaging technology. He was also a professor and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center from 1998 to 2012, according to a university biography.

“He’s an MRI guy. … He has no expertise in any of this stuff,” Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told NPR in a September story. The COVID-19 pandemic has now killed more than 267,000 people in the U.S.

“He’s been bringing out arguments that have been refuted week after week, month after month, since the beginning of this outbreak,” Jha added.” (C)

“A president who preached “America First” is demanding to know why the United States could end up third, or worse, in the global vaccine race.

President Donald Trump and his deputies are privately admonishing Food and Drug Administration officials for not moving faster to authorize promising coronavirus vaccines — a push partially motivated by Trump’s desire to claim credit for record-fast vaccine development, four officials said.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows grilled Commissioner Stephen Hahn and other top FDA officials in meetings this week on their decisions to require more rigorous review of initial data from the first vaccine candidates. In particular, they questioned why the agency won’t authorize a vaccine until after Dec. 10 at the earliest — about a month after Pfizer first reported that its shot was more than 90 percent effective, and roughly three weeks after Moderna announced similarly impressive findings. Multiple Trump appointees and even some career civil servants have argued that every day of delay could make a difference for the most vulnerable populations in a life-threatening pandemic.” (D)

“Americans have been strongly urged to stay home for the holidays and cancel in-person gatherings amid a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases, but the White House said it’s still planning to host holiday parties despite dire warnings from health experts — and in the wake of a September Rose Garden event that became, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, “a super-spreader event.”

U.S. public health officials have cautioned that large, indoor holiday gatherings during the winter months could lead to a dramatic uptick in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The novel coronavirus already has killed more than a quarter million Americans.” (E)

(A)Scott Atlas, a Trump Coronavirus Adviser, Resigns, By Sheryl Gay Stolberg, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/30/us/politics/scott-atlas-trump-coronavirus-adviser-resigns.html?referringSource=articleShare

(B)The rise and fall of White House COVID-19 advisor Dr. Scott Atlas, a lockdown skeptic who had Trump’s ear and fought with experts like Fauci, by Ashley Collman; https://www.businessinsider.com/scott-atlas-new-medical-adviser-anti-lockdown-pro-schools-reopening-2020-8

(C)Dr. Scott Atlas, Special Coronavirus Adviser To Trump, Resigns, by Vanessa Romo, https://www.npr.org/2020/11/30/940376041/dr-scott-atlas-special-coronavirus-advisor-to-trump-resigns

(D)Trump to FDA: Why is Europe beating us on vaccine?, By DAN DIAMOND, ADAM CANCRYN and SARAH OWERMOHLE, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/01/coronavirus-vaccine-trump-fda-441959

(E)White House planning holiday parties indoors despite pandemic warnings, By Ben Gittleson, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/white-house-planning-holiday-parties-indoors-pandemic-warnings/story?id=74357120

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