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Dr. Scott Atlas: A Powerful, Unelected ‘Cabal’ Controls Both Scientific Funding and Health Policy in America

“We all trust people with credentials, but the credentials alone are not sufficient anymore. In fact, we know now that many people with credentials are not to be trusted.”

In this episode, we sit down with Dr. Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a founding fellow at Hillsdale College’s Academy for Science and Freedom. He’s also the author of “A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America.”

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed deep-seated problems in America’s public health apparatus. It’s not nearly as objective or data-driven as one might expect. A powerful unelected few ultimately oversee who gets funded, who gets published in the prominent journals, and who ultimately makes it to the top, says Dr. Atlas.


Jan Jekielek: Dr. Scott Atlas, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.

Dr. Scott Atlas: Great to be here. Thank you.

Mr. Jekielek: You were able to see the previous administration’s pandemic response firsthand being in the White House in 2020 for a period of about four months. And now we’re here. You’ve launched an Academy of Science and Freedom here with Hillsdale, and you’re having an event around the censorship of science. It’s a long road. And so why don’t you give us a picture of how we got here?

Dr. Atlas: It’s a complicated question. I’ll start by giving what I saw as I entered this milieu of the White House, the Task Force, and the advice given to the president. Remember, I got to the White House at the end of July, after five to six months of Doctors Birx and Fauci and Redfield running the White House Federal Policy Guidance to the states. And when I entered, the country was in a state of significant fear and people were dying and the policies were not working. 

That is, the infections were not being stopped or prevented from spreading. The high risk people were still dying. The lockdowns were already failing. And we were sacrificing our children really, and a whole younger generation by closing schools. And there was already significant data on that. So when I got in, I was very naive at the time. I was coming from an academic and research environment where I was a health policy scholar at Hoover Institution for more than a decade full time working on complicated health policy questions.

And of course this was the most complicated health policy crisis that we had faced in a century. In addition, I had come out of a 25 years background of high level, really academic medicine, clinical practice, research, and looking as a medical scientist at data, I expected the same when I entered the White House and thought I would see that same sort of approach. 

What that means is an approach based on being very familiar with the data, being very familiar with the publications, reading them yourself, knowing how to critique a study based upon an adequate or an inadequate study design which therefore makes the conclusions valid or invalid and engaging in the scientific process, which means a process of listening to the exchange of ideas and understanding what is correct, what is not correct, what is known, what is not known. What I saw was something quite the opposite.

What I saw were people who were purported to be medical science experts, but in fact, they didn’t have that behavior. What I heard and saw was the behavior of people who did not have any scientific papers with them at these meetings. They did not have a working knowledge of the published literature. I brought in 15, 20 papers at a time in preparation for my comments to come forward. 

Their comments were just no data whatsoever and a personal ad hominem attack. And this was a behavior that I think is a behavior of a bureaucrat interested in covering other bureaucrats and manipulating or working with the media to critique people who had a different opinion, which was myself. So I was stunned at this behavior. There was no critical analysis of what was going on. There were very sophomoric charts made.

It was really very low level, and this was stunning to me. My job as an advisor to the President in a crisis was to make sure his questions were answered, make sure the experts doing the research were in there  answering his questions. And so I did that. I organized a group of scientists and medical physicians and researchers from the west coast to the east coast: UCLA, Tufts, Harvard, Stanford, some of the top people doing the actual research. And we met with the President and the Vice President to give more information. Not only was that thought of as threatening by the other doctors, we timed it so Dr. Birx could come to the meeting and at the last second she pulled out and that is not the behavior of someone who really should be at the table for looking at a complicated scientific and medical policy question.

That’s the behavior, in my view, of a bureaucrat. And this was a shock to me. I wasn’t in a political environment before this, and I didn’t think I was going into a political environment because this was not a political question. People were dying. The policies of the lockdowns, the school closures, the business shutdowns, the restrictions of movement, the quarantining of asymptomatic people, these failed already by then to stop the spread of the infection. They failed to stop the high risk people from dying. And they were really destroying millions of families and sacrificing our children. I was stunned. And how we got here to this idea that we need to have an institute for science and freedom, which is what we’re doing here, myself, Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff are co-founding fellows of this under the umbrella of Hillsdale, as you mentioned. How would we get to that point?

Well, because what we saw during the entire pandemic, and we still see today, is the opposite of what is needed in the scientific process because the scientific process, in fact, all critical thinking depends upon the free exchange of ideas. That process was thwarted by very powerful scientists in collusion with the media as we see by the emails released that were written by Dr. Francis Collins, the Head of the NIH, and Dr. Fauci using their friends in the media to “take down” people who disagree with him rather than engage in the scientific debate.

We saw this in the university campuses. My own university, Stanford University, had a group of professors in the medical school get together and in a very unhinged and unprofessional way censure me and try to intimidate me because of their own political feelings, which is a very sad indictment of the university culture. We need university expertise. And again, not just to find the truth that we need, but to teach our children, the students, that the appropriate process is not to slander, censure, intimidate, smear people, to shut them up. But the process is to have more information, to allow people to speak. When a university says they’re for free speech, that does not and should not be limited to, you’re fired. That’s not free speech. Free speech means speaking up as a credible person, which of course, I had a 25 year record of that at Stanford, and having that exchange of ideas, that scientific debate, and that was thwarted.

Now that was thwarted successfully, not by thwarting me, that was not successful, but what was successful sadly, was that other people were intimidated. Other people refused to come forward. I’ve had people on campus, on my block, come up to me and say, “Scott, so many people supported you at the medical school, but we were afraid to step forward.” That’s very sad. That’s very frightening that we cannot have a free exchange of ideas on a scholarly level in such a critical period of time where there is no time in modern medical history where we needed the expertise and it was stopped. The whole process was stopped. And this is contaminated, frankly, the campus mentality at Stanford, and also at other places where I’m not sure how a student would learn critical thinking if they don’t hear views that are disparate from each other, that’s by definition necessary.

You don’t need to be a scientist to be a critical thinker, but you cannot be a legitimate scientist without being a critical thinker. There was no critical thinking allowed, and we saw the media, your field pile on, and we see it today where people are taken down off of the social media, the YouTubes and the Twitters, where we see poisonous things written in the search engines about people—character smears. 

This, again, is not adequate for a society that prides itself on being objective, un-data driven, and unfree. That kind of behavior is unacceptable. Science itself now has become politicized even more than before. The pandemic did not cause, in my opinion, the politicization of science, the smears from academia, these things all were just exposed. They were exposed very alike the way people’s character is exposed under pressure. When you’re challenged as an individual, as a parent, in your family life, at work, when you’re challenged, your true character comes out and there were people that were tested and they failed.

They failed horribly. And it’s not just that they failed because they were incompetent, although that was part of it. They failed because of their own hubris. They will not admit they’re wrong. The data is very clear. The lockdowns were wrong. They failed. They destroyed people. We sacrificed our children in a very heinous way. 

We need to restore trust in science. We needed to restore trust if possible in the media, but we need to restore trust in university leadership. These things are gone or severely damaged. And the first step is they must step forward and admit they were wrong. And that includes the public health agencies of the United States, including the CDC that have really dramatically failed in terms of transparency, in terms of high level scientific basis for what they’re saying. I think there’s a lot of work to be done.

Mr. Jekielek:  Of course there were many people that I’ve read a number of examples of this, where you were obviously being slandered. Was there anyone that came out and said, “Scott, I want to debate you.”

Dr. Atlas: In fact, quite the opposite. I wrote this in the book, but there was a conversation I had internally, frankly, with Dr. Fauci who asked me to meet with the other three doctors, the three of them: Fauci, Birx, Redfield. I said, “I’m happy to do that. I would like to bring in some of the outside researchers and epidemiologists, and we can have a thorough discussion.” 

That was the end of the conversation. There was no interest in discussing the data when I had the experts come in and meet with the President and then the next day with the Vice President, Dr. Birx pulled out of that meeting. In fact, when the Stanford Medical School group posted this letter, it’s only one medical scientist, I’ll say, Martin Kulldorff wrote in to Stanford publicly at the time. And he said in his letter to the Stanford Newspaper, “I challenge any of the signatories to a debate on the issues.”

And zero of the Stanford professors accepted Martin’s challenge, of course, because there is no way to debate that data because everything I said was correct. Everything I said was said by others too, including John Ioannidis and later other people about the things that were so thought to be controversial at the time, because the data was there. And so there was a combination because the question is, why was that? Why did that happen? Why did these people do that? And I think there’s a lot of speculation. It judges people’s motives, but it was an election season. I’m not sure how much it had to do with it, but seems like it had something to do with it since 97 percent of Stanford zip code, meaning the faculty members, voted for Joe Biden and the election, and three percent voted for Donald Trump, which is a staggering statistic. But politics should never have entered this.

And so you have to wonder why. And I think as a combination of a lot of things, fear, including by the people who are on the faculty of these universities and the public health leadership, personal fear, I think a defiance or a political hatred of anyone who would have the audacity to try to help the President fix the problem in this country if that president was someone they didn’t approve of.

And so I think it was a mixture of things that caused that loss of rational thinking. We need to expose the corrupt inner circle of funding science, because the NIH controls the funding of research and therefore controls all the promotions of scientists and universities, because you don’t get promoted generally without NIH grants. 

And so you can imagine that that control would not be an atmosphere where a young assistant professor would be willing to speak out against what the NIH leaders were saying because it would jeopardize their own career. There’s a complex tangle, an unhealthy relationship between the control of research funding, the control of academic careers and promotions, the control of publications by the journals that are necessary to get the research grants. And then of course, the outside influence of companies, Big Pharma and even tech these days where we see this very complicated contamination of what we naively thought of as a rather pure environment, which was science.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s very interesting. Not long before this interview, I actually sat down with Dr. Martin Kulldorff. We talked about this, some of these funding confluence between distribution of the funding and promotion and so forth in the academy and in the agencies. But one thing we didn’t talk about is the influence of tech and Big Pharma and so forth. How does that fit into this picture?

Dr. Atlas: Well, again, it’s a tangled web that I was extremely naive about when I started, which was shocking to me. Shocking, for instance, in a very subtle way that I heard the people on the Task Force refer to the TV, talking head types by their first names indicating they were friends. They had established a relationship with these people and they used them to make sure that the narrative was what they wanted. 

The fact was that the emails from Dr. Collins that were retrieved under a Freedom of Information Act request showed that they, Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci, were colluding with the lay media, not science to destroy or undermine or smear people who disagree with them. We saw it in the scientific journals as well, by the way, this was very new to me, I think on unprecedented in modern history that we had virologists write a letter to the editor of “Lancet” in February 2020 that said that it was a conspiracy theory if anyone even thought that there was a possibility that the virus leaked out of a lab rather than was simply natural.

Now, they said it was known and of course it wasn’t known in February 2020. It’s still not a hundred percent known today, but I don’t think anyone would say it’s definitely natural. And why was that written is the point here. That letter could all only have been written to intimidate and stop anyone else from making that statement. And this is very dangerous. The journals were publishing character smears on top of that. This kind of opinion piece that does not have a real scientific basis and in fact was contrary to the evidence is a real abuse of what were very prestigious and influential journals. They’re still influential, but we saw garbage really produced in these journals, talking about Lancet, New England Journal, Journal of the AMA, some of the world’s best journals, a British Medical Journal, including simple character smears.

And this cannot go on. And part of this, again, relates to this cabal of people in powerful positions in the journal editorship who also review the NIH grants. There’s this very, very close and like I say, unhealthy relationship. In addition, all of the reviews by the way, are done anonymously—the peer review process. 

So the peer review process, although it might seem to be something that ensures honesty because you don’t have to reveal who you were and you could be honest, it’s actually quite the opposite it turns out because it means that people can, without any accountability, stop a paper from being published. And that’s what happened. I got letters from over a hundred scientists during the year 2020 saying, “First of all, please keep going. We’re afraid to step forward, but you’re right, everything you’re saying.”

But the second thing that many of them said was they can’t get their research published. These were very important papers that eventually got published. Many of them, not all of them, including papers that showed that the original statistical models were grossly inaccurate. That group use of masks was not significantly effective on stopping or preventing the spread of the infection. These papers, eventually some of them were published, but it took many, many months. It became a politicized atmosphere even in journals. 

This is the kind of thing that we’re going to, first of all, explore and expose in this new academy for science and freedom. And then we need to educate the public because anything that comes out of this is really, it must come from the public. It’s not going to come from the top down. I think it has to come from a demand for transparency by Americans and the citizens of the world, a demand for honest science, a demand for disclosure of relationships that are frankly corrupt, including relationships with industry. And we’re going to expose these issues. And at the same time, we hope to develop solutions to them.

Mr. Jekielek: No, absolutely. And this is… So I wanted to touch on this, it’s this area around industry. How does the industry fit in?

Dr. Atlas: Well, the industry fits in in many ways. I mean, and I have to say that we have a fantastic, the most innovative industry, private sector for medical devices, as well as pharmacologic development and diagnostics in the world. I mean, there’s no question about that. Our drug development excels compared to anywhere in the world, our medical device production excels and we dominate patents. We dominate new products. We dominate early access to approved drugs, particularly for cancer. We can go on about that. 

So it’s not like we don’t have a fantastic private sector here. That’s not the point. But the point is that we have to be careful in hiding or in not being transparent about things that are supported by pharma, because basically no matter how good of a person you are, if your company’s making billions of dollars from a product, is it a surprise that one of the companies that makes vaccines for COVID?

Is it a surprise that the CEO gets out there the other day and says, “Oh, we need a fourth booster. We need a fourth dose.” Well, it’s not a surprise because the company’s mission is to make money. I’m not saying that’s the reason he said it, but it’s very difficult to separate that out. Now, when a pharma CEO says it, the public should understand this, but when we have people advising the President like we saw, when we have people going on TV, writing pieces in the “Wall Street Journal” and other influential papers about how we must lock down until we have a vaccine. And then it turns out that person is on the board of one of the main companies making the vaccines, this is a problem. I’m not saying that these people are necessarily corrupt, but that influence is corrupting. And that is a conflict of interest that in some cases should make you recuse yourself.

We don’t even know the depths of pharma’s funding or not funding of certain things. We know that in this emergency situation, the previous administration relieved the pharma companies of liability. That was in the part of the interest of getting things done quickly and without hesitation. I think that was very well intentioned. But what we have now is a lack of transparency on the side effects of the vaccines. We have an overt lack of transparency of the data. And when you have that coupled with a zero liability against these companies, that’s a problem.

You have basically undermined the trust in the vaccines unnecessarily because the vaccines have so far, good data on protecting people from dying who have a high risk of dying. But when you have a lack of transparency, when you have an unhealthy situation of financial gain from pushing more and more and more boosters, when you have advisors both inside the administration as well as people who were in the administration and had the ear of the President, when you have people going on TV as experts and they’re not very clear on emphasizing that they are on the advisory board of the drug company making the vaccine, I think that’s wrong.

I think many people would say it’s unethical. And the solution for that is not just admitting it or stating it clearly, the solution is recusing yourself because there is, intentional or not, a problem with a conflict of interest there. And the American people generally believe what they hear. I mean, everyone has until this pandemic. And I think that era has to be over. We all trust people with credentials, but the credentials alone are not sufficient anymore. In fact, we know now that many people with credentials are not to be trusted. And so we need to take a much more critical hat, wear a critical hat here in looking at not just the information, but who’s saying it. And I think that we need that revisited. We need an airing of the conflicts of interest that are, in theory, already in place.

When you write a piece, you have to declare it when you get a grant, but it has to be far more visible. And in fact, some people need to be recused. In addition, I think there’s a different kind of corruption in people who have been bureaucrats for 35 or 40 years. The way you succeed and keep that position inside the government is not because you’re apolitical. It’s not because you’re unbiased. It’s because you are very skillful at navigating a highly politicized environment. This is obvious. 

You’re there running agencies or large divisions of agencies, really as a bureaucrat and a quasi political position. You have friends in the media, you have friends in other agencies, and you have friends in pharma so that when you’re directing the clinical trials of the Moderna vaccine or the Pfizer vaccine, you have a very tight relationship with them, whether it translates into money or not, money’s not the only thing that corrupts people. Lots of things do, including ego, including power. We all know, power corrupts.

We need a better integration of people who don’t have conflicts of interest. We need perhaps even term limits on people in these agencies, not just elected officials. We can’t have people running massive, powerful funding agencies and controlling, therefore, all of research for 35, 40 years. We see what happens here. One of the biggest failures of the NIH and the FDA here during this pandemic was a complete failure to rapidly do the clinical trials on drugs that were already FDA approved in the spring of 2020. We should have had the answers right away on several drugs that were readily available that have a mechanism of action that suggests that they should work. And there’s plenty of clinical evidence that came out later that suggests that they would work yet those trials were not done. Now we’re two years in. We still have not done these trials.

In fact, one of the trials is going on now. And they say that the results will be known in 2023. We’re talking three years after the pandemic. We need accountability of the people who got what they wanted. They  implemented the policies they wanted. Those policies failed. We have 900,000 plus Americans who’ve died from COVID according to the categorization, millions of families destroyed, yet the same people are in charge. I don’t understand how that could possibly happen, but it is. We need accountability on the people in pharma who didn’t show fully the data. We don’t have the full set of data. We don’t have the full set of data from the CDC on complications from the vaccines. Why not? We’ve had 95 plus percent of people in high risk category have had the vaccine in the United States.

We’ve had, I don’t know, hundreds of millions of doses of these vaccines. We don’t have a full set of data on the complications yet. Why? What kind of a scientific process is that? There’s a confluence of interests, frankly. It’s not one motivation in my view. There’s a confluence of interests that are different. There’s financial interest in pharma and people who benefit from that, advisory positions in these companies, power, hubris, incompetence, and perhaps even covering up egregious errors. 

If you were a person in a hypothetical scenario who was responsible for funding the research that ultimately may have led to the virus itself, if you were that person, let’s just say you were a hypothetical person in the NIH who signed off on those grants in China, and partially funded that research, I would envision that you might have an interest in making the public think you are the most concerned person in the world about safety, and you would never do something risky like that.

And so that’s a conflict of interest I’m pointing out because we know that there was research on coronaviruses and it’s very controversial, but the NIH funded some of the research on coronaviruses that is indirectly, if not directly related to this. I think we don’t know the full set of information on that, but what I’m suggesting here is there are many different motivations for people in very powerful positions. And now that we’ve proven… It’s been proven that the wrong strategy was used, that lockdowns did not succeed in stopping or reducing this, they did not stop the spread of the infection.

They destroyed millions of people and the lockdowns literally killed people by virtue of lost medical care and the massive economic downturn proven to have killed people, particularly working class and low income families. When we see that proof has come in it’s very difficult to proceed without having the accountability and the public airing to the public to know that those strategies were wrong. It has to be admitted and there has to be accountability, or we can never restore trust in these agencies and even science itself until we get to that truth.

Mr. Jekielek: The NIH did not immediately respond to a request for comment about why it didn’t conduct more clinical trials of drugs that showed potential to be repurposed for COVID-19.

Well, and so this is what I was going to say, the proof has come in, it would be good if you could elaborate on that. But I don’t think that’s generally known, frankly.

Dr. Atlas: Well, this is another problem because there’s two parts of the censorship of science that’s been going on. One part is by science itself, the university climate of intimidation of people who don’t agree with what the accepted narrative might be. The journals, writing opinion pieces that really are character slurs on people. The refusal to publish studies, the funding streams. This is a censorship by science and university communities. 

And then there’s another censorship, which is the media. And I’m including social media here because that is the town square these days. And the media is so critical. I don’t think it has to be said, but the media is the interface between science and the public. And so when the media has the power to filter or even kick people off of social media and deem things as misinformation when they’re not, they are very harmful to the public good and to the public discussion.

The censorship by the media has been extraordinarily harmful. And we need to get rid of that. The lockdowns have objectively been failures. Now, why do I know this? Well, if you look at… I’ll cite a few studies. Bjornskov in Spring 2021, “I analyzed 24 countries and showed the lockdowns did not reduce the deaths compared to no lockdowns.” Stanford’s Study January 2021, by Bendavid and colleagues showed that severe lockdowns did not reduce the spread of the infection. National Bureau of Economic Research, USC RAND Institute in June 2021, Argarwal analyzed 43 countries and the United States, the states, and he showed that lockdowns increased the excess deaths. When the lockdowns were implemented, the deaths actually started to go up after they were coming down. And that’s true in the United States as well.

When you’re talking about how many people died over a non pandemic year, the excess deaths increased from the lockdowns. The lockdowns killed people. And then the last study that was published that received attention was in January 2022 out of a group from Johns Hopkins. And that study concluded that the lockdowns did not significantly reduce deaths, and they were extraordinarily harmful. And they reiterated in their conclusion, frankly, nothing that was news if anyone paid attention to the pandemic literature before this pandemic. That conclusion was that lockdowns should not be used in a pandemic because they don’t work and they’re extraordinarily destructive. And that was known in the several years before the SARS-2 Pandemic. The lockdowns failed. And it’s not a question. Although the people that implemented the lockdowns, meaning in the United States, it was mainly the governors.

The people that advised the governors to implement the lockdowns were Doctors Birx, the Head of the Task Force medical side, Dr. Fauci, the most visible, most influential, and Dr. Redfield, who was the Head of the CDC. And now we continue that to this administration where Dr. Fauci is really in charge of the federal guidance, as well as the CDC. These people got what they wanted. The lockdowns were implemented, their restrictions, their school closures, their mask mandates. They failed. And to the tune of almost a million Americans have had their deaths attributed to COVID, but even worse, they destroyed families. Like I say, and they sacrificed our children, the lockdowners, frankly, they own the results of the policies. They had got what they wanted, they advised it. And so if you judge the policies, the pandemic response as being very good, then you should congratulate Dr. Fauci and the lockdowners. If you think there was a problem with the outcome and the outcome was a problem, it was a horrible outcome, then you’d better talk to the people who advised what was implemented, not the people who were disagreeing with what was implemented.

Mr. Jekielek: Very briefly, I want to talk about the sacrificing of children. You mentioned that a couple of times. I always come back to this when we interview because there’s always new data, and this is something that’s been very important to you. The surgeon general of Florida, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, recently became the first officially to recommend against vaccination of children. I wanted to see what you think about that. And also just more broadly, how were the children sacrificed here?

Dr. Atlas: Sure. I think that the latest heinous, really unethical abuse of America’s children has been in the policies that have been implemented on our university campuses and in the public—in the younger children. And that is requiring on university campuses, vaccination of young people when those young, healthy people have no significant risk of a serious illness from COVID. That’s fact, that’s not an opinion. That’s all the data all over the world. Yet we have forced, we, the university leaders, have somehow not only forced vaccination on people who really did not have a significant benefit from it, they also forced testing. And I’d like to remind people of something that no one talks about. October 2020, the CDC and their recommendations on schools wrote on their website publication, it is unethical to require testing of students who don’t want to be tested.

That’s gone by the wayside. Medical ethics has been seriously violated in the United States. In fact, anyone who does informed consent research, human subjects committees are supposed to weigh in on this. To inject an experimental vaccine in a young child who has no significant risk, healthy young children who do not have a significant risk for a serious illness from COVID on a population basis, healthy children, people who design such a study, I think that really crosses the boundary into a breaking of medical ethics. 

Now there’s a moral break in the American society. What’s the moral break? The moral break is that despite the data that was known from Spring and Summer 2020, despite knowing that healthy children have an extraordinarily low risk for serious illness from COVID, despite knowing that children are not major spreaders of the illness, despite knowing the severe problems of closing schools, meaning one in four college students in the United States college age students thought of killing himself in June 2020 data.

After two months of isolation, because of the school closures, we had an explosion of manic depressive,  anxiety disorder and depression in teenagers. We had an explosion during 2020 during the lockdowns of suicide attempts in teenage girls, we had a doubling to tripling of self harm visits to doctors by teenagers. This is kids putting out cigarettes on their skin or slashing their wrists. And so we have an explosion of drug abuse, of substance abuse in teenagers. These are during the lockdown, that’s not from the virus. The virus didn’t cause that, the lockdown caused all these things. And then we closed schools in September 2020, throughout the nation with only really a one or two exceptions, 17 percent roughly of American children during 2020 had in-person schools. Whereas in our pure nations of Western Europe, they were almost all open because they had the same data we did.

They didn’t deny the data that showed healthy children have extremely low risk. They didn’t deny the data in Europe that teachers do not have a high risk from COVID in schools. That schools are not a place where a lot of COVID illness spreads. In fact, I always say, if you were going to design a low risk job, you’d want to be a teacher. And so we closed our schools instead, and what happened? We prolonged that isolation and we have those statistics to live with. We have other statistics that I want to mention, which is that 50 percent of surveyed kids 18 to 24 in America, 50 percent said they’re afraid of all social interaction. More than half of America’s college age population had an unwanted weight gain during the lockdown of 2020 and that weight gain averaged 28 pounds. That’s not a cosmetic issue. That’s a health issue.

We have created a nightmare here, not just with the psychological damage and with lives lost, but we’ve the nightmare for public health here in these young people. And we have a long way to go to dig out from that. We and we alone, the United States, the biggest sin of the management of COVID was the closure of the schools in Fall 2020 and onward, and the most harmful. 

And I think it’s almost inexplicable and it’s inexplicable what we see on the university campuses with requiring vaccination. Let me put it this way. If the reason that vaccination is required for college students is to protect the elderly. That in and of itself is a break in the social contract we have as human beings with our children. We are not to be using our children as shields for us. As a father, I’m a shield for my children. Children are not my shield.

And so this is inexplicable. This is a moral catastrophe and a gross break in medical ethics. I frankly often ask myself, where are the medical ethicists? Where are the ethicists that are sitting in on these human subjects committees and universities. When they’re designing a clinical trial of injecting young children with an experimental vaccine for a disease that these healthy children do not have a significant risk from. This is inexplicable for a country like the United States. And in fact, other countries don’t do that. Several of the Scandinavian countries decided not to recommend vaccination for children and some, for people under 20. The UK advisory panel to their vaccine committee at the NIH said that the data was not there to recommend vaccines for people under 16. The cost benefit of it because the vaccines have a risk.

And again, we don’t have all the data on the safety because there’s no transparency about it, but we know there’s certain risk, maybe one in three to 8,000 young males get myocarditis from the vaccine. That’s very high considering that they don’t have a significant risk for serious illness from the disease itself. And so we have really committed… I think of all the historical record of what was done, of all the history of a complete absence of consideration of the harms of the policy itself by our leaders in public health and this bizarre fixation on stopping COVID-19 at all costs, that is a complete abuse of the position of public health leadership. But the more specific issue of destroying or harming a younger generation will go down in infamy really in the history books. That’s my prediction about what was done during this pandemic.

Mr. Jekielek: As it happens, today is the two year anniversary of 15 days to stop the spread. Two years to the day. At the Academy of Science and Freedom, you want to talk about how to deal with problems like this. Specifically with respect to the COVID, what can be done right now to move things forward in a direction you think would be proactive and positive.

Dr. Atlas: Well, there are general things and specific things I think to do. The general thing is to make sure to have the people in the CDC, to have the people in public health come forward and show the data that the lockdowns failed. And that will not happen again. We need an admission of error. We need an explanation to the public. That transparency alone will reassure the public that there’s some honesty present here. Now we can also be more specific. We need to do what seems to be happening in Western European nations. And that is that despite cases going up, meaning infections, they’re still getting rid of the restrictions. I mean, frankly, much of this stuff has been illogical.

If your country already is rampantly filled with infection, why would you stop people from coming in your country? What is the logic of that if you already have a massive number of people infected, that just alone. But secondly, these variants… The expectations have to be set with the public. This is a big point that I tried to get done in the White House, but of course unfortunately, people didn’t listen to me. The public needs to have an expectation. 

This disease, this infection, this virus is not going to disappear. It doesn’t magically go away. It’s irrational to think that it would go away from these mitigation measures to begin with. This is a virus that will be here. We will have repeated cycles of infection, but usually with other pandemics, with other viruses and with this one so far, the variants and the mutants that come out are less lethal, but it’s not an expectation that we will not have cases come up. The expectation is those cases will not be as dangerous for two reasons.

Number one, the evolution of viruses. Number two, most people have been infected in the United States according to recent estimates and they have immunologic protection. And then on top of that, a massive number of people have been immunized, have been vaccinated. And so we will not see this massive destruction, but we will see cases. That’s not a cause for panic. 

As the cases are going up in Europe, in places like the United Kingdom as we speak, in Switzerland, they are still saying we’re getting rid of the mask mandates. We’re getting rid of vaccine passports. We’re getting rid of these things because you don’t do that for mild illnesses. It’s not logical, it’s only destructive. And those maneuvers fail anyway. They haven’t gone so far as to say they failed. The public needs to be given some honesty about what worked and what didn’t, given some expectation about what will be.

We will not eliminate the virus and given some relief that we don’t expect a massive amount of deaths and destruction. Anything could happen from a new virus. Anything could happen from a variant, but the odds are, that’s not going to happen from this virus. And we live with certain risks that have to be articulated to the public, just like we do with other diseases, just like we do with driving on a highway, just like we do with influenza where we have 50,000 deaths per year, more or less. And we don’t like those deaths. We do everything we can to protect those people and let them protect themselves. But we don’t lock down. We don’t mandate the flu vaccine to go to school. We don’t test, test, test for a virus that is going to be mild.

And we don’t force vaccines that frankly fail to stop a reinfection or the spread of the illness like this vaccine fails. The vaccines do not do that. They do not offer any significant long term protection against getting reinfected. We know this, that’s what the Omicron data showed. The public needs to know the truth. The steps are to really make the public aware of the reality and not have these people dig in for whatever reasons. And there are multiple that I articulated, whether it’s their own egos or political reasons or whatever. And that’s, again, I’m being idealistic because I’m skeptical. I don’t think these people will come forward. I don’t think they will be honest. 

I think therefore the burden is on individuals to become critical thinkers, to see who’s speaking the facts and the data consistently, to trust people not just on the basis of their title, but on the basis of what they say and to learn the data to some extent themselves. I think that we need to have a more of an individually driven response here and otherwise you’re abrogating your own responsibility to your family and your child.

Mr. Jekielek: If you don’t do that.

Dr. Atlas: If you don’t do that.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, Dr. Scott Atlas, it’s such a pleasure to have you on again.

Dr. Atlas: Thank you for having me.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.


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