Scott Atlas Resigns as COVID-19 Adviser to Trump

The role was set to expire

Scott Atlas Resigns as COVID-19 Adviser to Trump
Dr. Scott Atlas delivers an update on the nation's COVID-19 testing strategy in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, on Sept. 28, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

Scott Atlas on Monday resigned as President Donald Trump's special adviser on the White House pandemic task force, according to a resignation letter.

Atlas joined the administration in August as a Special Government Employee (SGE) with a 130-day detail. His tenure was set to expire this week.

The White House did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times' request for comment.

In his resignation letter, Atlas thanked the president for "the honor and privilege to serve on behalf of the American people."

"I am writing to resign from my position as Special Advisor to the President of the United States,” Atlas wrote in the letter dated Dec. 1. He praised the Trump administration's work on the COVID-19 pandemic, including Operation Warp Speed—a public-private effort to fast-track the development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.

Atlas, a healthcare policy expert who is a Senior Fellow for the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said in his letter that during his stint, his sole focus was "to save lives and help Americans through this pandemic" and that he "always relied on the latest science and evidence, without any political consideration or influence."

"As time went on, like all scientists and health policy scholars, I learned new information and synthesized the latest data from around the world, all in an effort to provide you with the best information to serve the greater public good," he wrote. "But, perhaps more than anything, my advice was always focused on minimizing all the harms from both the pandemic and the structural policies themselves, especially to the working class and the poor."

He said his views were "in agreement with those of many of the world's top epidemiologists and medical scientists from Harvard, Oxford, and other top academic institutions, as well as with thousands of medical and public health scientists from around the world."

He added, "Although some may disagree with those recommendations, it is the free exchange of ideas that lead to scientific truths, which are the very foundation of any civilized society. Indeed, I cannot think of a time where safeguarding science and the scientific debate is more urgent."

Atlas said that he helped design policies to protect vulnerable populations while safely reopening schools and society. The administration "identified and illuminated early on the harms of prolonged lockdowns, including that they create massive physical health losses and psychological distress, destroy families and damage our children," he said.

“And more and more, the relatively low risk to children of serious harms from the infection, the less frequent spread from children, the presence of immunologic protection beyond that shown by antibody testing, and the severe harms from closing schools and society are all being acknowledged," he added.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield and Atlas have had disagreements over how much of the population may be immune to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus.
 Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on July 2, 2020. (Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty Images)
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on July 2, 2020. (Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty Images)

In September, Atlas criticized Redfield for having allegedly misstated COVID-19 data and accused Redfield of understating the population's immunity by referring only to data and information related to people who had developed antibodies. Atlas pointed to additional research on T cells—white blood cells of the immune system that help identify foreign particles that enter the body—that play a critical role in immunity in additional to that of antibodies.

Redfield had said in testimony to a CCP virus Senate hearing that preliminary results from antibody testing indicated that the majority of the population in the United States—about 90 percent—remained susceptible to the CCP virus. He said that roughly 10 percent of the population had developed antibodies after being infected by the CCP virus.

But Atlas pushed back on the statement, saying that, “The immunity to the infection is not solely determined by the percent of people who have antibodies.

"If you look at the research, and there’s been 24 papers, at least, on the immunity from T-cell, that’s the different type of immunity than antibodies,” he said at the time. “The reality is that according to the papers from Sweden, Singapore, and elsewhere, there is cross-immunity highly likely from other infections, and there is also T-cell immunity. And the combination of those makes the antibodies a small fraction of the people that have immunity.”

Days later, Redfield was reported to have been overheard saying of Atlas, "Everything he says is false."

Atlas defended his expertise and said that his advice to the administration was based on the current science.

“I was asked to be an adviser on the coronavirus pandemic to the president of the United States and I was asked to do that because I have a 25 year career at top, elite medical centers, as a doctor and in patient care,” Atlas told Fox News earlier. “I also have a 15-year career in public policy, working on health care policy and integrating my medical knowledge in policy.”

“I am here because I understand how to translate complex medical science into plain English for the president of the United States and for everyone else in the White House, and derive appropriate public policy from that information,” he added, commenting that there appears to be a "false belief" that one "has to be a public health official to understand the facts about the pandemic."

Paula Liu contributed to this report.