WASHINGTON (AP) – Dr Scott Atlas, scientific adviser to President Donald Trump, who was skeptical about the coronavirus outbreak, is leaving his White House post.
A White House official confirmed that a neuroradiologist at Stanford University who had no official experience in public health or infectious diseases had resigned at the end of his interim government term. Atlas confirmed the news in a Monday night tweet.
Atlas joined the White House this summer, where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, as he resisted stronger efforts to curb the COVID-19 epidemic, which killed more than 267,000 Americans.
Atlas broke with government experts and, with overwhelming agreement from the scientific community, criticized efforts to encourage facial coverage to slow the spread of the virus. Just a few weeks ago, Twitter responded to Michigan’s latest virus restrictions, encouraging people to “rise up” against state policy.
His opinion also encouraged Stanford to make a statement, distancing himself from a faculty member, saying the Atlas “formulated views that were inconsistent with the university’s approach to responding to the pandemic”.
“We support the use of masks, social distance, and the performance of surveillance and diagnostic tests,” the university said on Nov. 16. “We also believe that the guidelines of local and state health authorities must be strictly adhered to.”
Atlas defended his role in his resignation letter, saying, “I can’t think of a time when the defense of science and scientific debate is more urgent.”
Atlas was hired as a “special government employee,” which limited government service to 130 days in a calendar year — a deadline reached this week.