Dr. Scott Atlas, the controversial newest addition to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, says he is a “straight shooter.” He proceeded to demonstrate that in a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with BBC Radio Friday.
Atlas, a neuroradiologist who wrote a book on magnetic resonance imaging, said it doesn’t matter that he has no expertise in epidemiology or infectious diseases; he accused public health experts of ignoring data; said the US was doing better compared to Europe in terms of coronavirus deaths and claimed — incorrectly — that the case fatality rate in the US is down by more than 90%.
Atlas said ongoing restrictions to try to control the coronavirus pandemic are having worse effects than the virus itself.
“The impact of prolonging the lockdown is worse than the impact of the disease,” Atlas told the BBC Radio Newshour.
“There is a worse outcome from prolonging the lockdown and I think everyone knows that,” said Atlas, who is also a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
“We are not advocating – I am not advocating – less mitigation. What I’m advocating is using logic and rational reasoning to understand the harms of locking down,” Atlas said.
Atlas referred to reports showing some cancer patients are skipping chemotherapy, stroke patients are not going to the ER, childhood immunizations are down, and more people have contemplated suicide during lockdown.
“This is because of the lockdown. This is because of the isolation. This is not direct damage from the virus,” he said.
Atlas has been criticized for comments made earlier this year in defense of a herd immunity strategy for handling the pandemic. He has denied this and denied that he argued for letting the pandemic run its course.
“I have never, literally never, advised the President of the United States to pursue a strategy of herd immunity, of opening the doors and letting people get infected. I have never advised that, I have never advocated for that to the task force, I have never told anybody in the White House that that’s what we should be doing,” Atlas said.
He also said that the concept of herd immunity is not controversial.
“It is known to exist, if you don’t understand herd immunity as an immunologist or as a doctor or anyone involved in the discussion about this, there’s something, you know, missing from your knowledge,” Atlas said. “Herd immunity is a phenomenon.”
Herd immunity develops when enough people get an infection and when there is a vaccine, Atlas said.
“That is the whole purpose of generating a vaccine,” he said. “That is the main purpose