Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist who gained US President, Donald Trump’s attention by pushing science-defying advice about COVID-19, has resigned from the White House coronavirus task force after a controversial four months during which he repeatedly clashed with other members of the coronavirus task force.
Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no expertise in infectious diseases or epidemiology, was appointed in August on a special 130-day contract. The role was set to expire next week.
Atlas emerged as one of Trump’s closest advisers on the COVID-19 pandemic as Trump sidelined seasoned experts like Dr Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
While on the job, he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, as he questioned measures designed to curb the spread of the disease.
“I am writing to resign from my position as Special Advisor to the President of the United States,” Atlas said in a letter to Trump dated 1 December, according to Fox News, which first reported his resignation.
The letter claims that he had “focused on minimising all the harms from both the pandemic and the structural policies themselves, especially to the working class and the poor” – though he repeatedly amplified false claims about the disease, including insisting that children “never transmit the disease” and opposed funding widespread testing.
His letter also recognised the incoming president-elect Joe Biden’s administration: “I sincerely wish the new team all the best as they guide the nation through these trying, polarized times … With the emerging treatments and vaccines, I remain highly optimistic that America will thrive once again and overcome the adversity of the pandemic and all that it has entailed.”
The U.S. coronavirus death toll is nearing 270,000 while hospitalization rates are steadily increasing with more than 150,000 new infections being reported every day.