Scott Atlas has resigned as Special Adviser to Donald Trump, a White House official said on Monday after challenging science-based public health measures for four months and contradicting other members of the coronavir virus task force.
“I’m writing to resign from the U.S. president’s special advisory position,” Atlas said in a letter to Trump on Dec. 1, according to Fox News, which first reported his resignation. Atlas later confirmed his resignation in tweets.
Atlas is a neuroradiologist and a fellow at Stanford’s right-wing Hoover Institution, where he deals with health policy. He has no experience or experience in infectious diseases and epidemiology, yet Trump has chosen to advise the president on the pandemic.
Atlas joined the White House in the summer, where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, as he resisted efforts to curb the pandemic.
Atlas has attacked public health measures such as masks, staying at home and social distancing. He called on Michigan residents to “take off” against the restrictions imposed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who became the target of a kidnapping act, and was called upon to fire him.
Atlas has repeatedly reduced the risk of the virus, which has killed more than 265,000 Americans.
He also advocated that the U.S. should work to achieve “herd immunity,” a so-called strategy that is likely to result in the deaths of millions, and Stanford University and the Stanford faculty senate.
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 monitoring and diagnostic testing,” the university said on Nov. 16. “We also believe in strict adherence to the guidelines of local and state health authorities.”
Public health experts, including Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert in the United States, sharply criticized the Atlas for providing misleading or incorrect information to Trump about the virus epidemic. He reduced the importance of face masks and said this month that the closures were an “epic failure” in stopping the spread of the virus.
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.”
The resignation comes at a time when the country is facing a deadly surge in coronavirus cases and record-high hospital care. The United States currently reports more than 100,000 new cases of coronavirus daily.