Atlas Is Shrugging … and The Narrative Isn’t Happy
“Dr. Scott Atlas is arming Trump with misleading data” about COVID-19, Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield told a colleague Friday, according to a Monday report by NBC News political reporter Monica Alba.
Within hours, numerous outlets ideologically allied with NBC amplified the coverage. Here are some screenshots of the Google News results for the story just a short while later, but is Redfield’s assertion correct? The Federalist spoke to numerous epidemiologists to find out.
“Everything he says is false,” NBC News quoted Redfield as saying of Atlas’s coronavirus recommendations. That’s just not true, top epidemiologists told The Federalist.
“Dr. Redfield is a prominent and respected scientist, so I respect his opinion, but I don’t know what he’s thinking,” said Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya, an epidemiologist and medical professor at Stanford University, in response to the NBC story. Bhattacharya has advised public officials including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on COVID-19 response. “I think the evidence is more strongly with Dr. Atlas,” he continued.
In an interview, Atlas said the constant media characterization of President Trump’s coronavirus response as detached from scientific expertise is “completely false.” He said the president’s policies are informed by infectious disease experts from the world’s top medical and research institutions, including Bhattacharya and John Ioannidis of Stanford University Medical Center, Martin Kulldorff and Katherine Yih of Harvard Medical School, and Sunetra Gupta and Carl Heneghan of Oxford University.
“The extreme comments that have been reported are an attempt to delegitimize me and undermine the president of the United States,” Atlas said, not a dispassionate, science-based position. “There can be different opinions about scientific evidence, but to say I’m citing false information is a lie,” he said later.
Scientific and public understanding of the disease has “changed dramatically” in the past nine months, Bhattacharya noted in an interview. Now we know COVID-19’s dangers are far lower than previously believed, such that if 1,000 people are infected with the virus, between 997 and 998 will survive, he said.
Atlas is known for pushing back on coronavirus panic with scientific evidence, including in his view that quarantines should target the vulnerable and infected rather than the healthy, the historic norm. He has been personally and professionally targeted as a result. Just two weeks ago, YouTube banned a video of Atlas talking about coronavirus, claiming it violated their terms of service.
“Dr. Atlas is not alone in his views,” Kulldorff told The Federalist in an email Monday. Numerous epidemiologists recommended the traditional quarantine over societal lockdowns for COVID “since March/April,” he said. “I find it curious that most journalists are uninterested in hearing from these experts.”