White House Covid adviser Dr Scott Atlas apologises for appearing on Russian state TV

White House Covid adviser Dr Scott Atlas apologises for appearing on Russian state TV


White House Covid adviser Dr Scott Atlas apologises for appearing on Russian state TV

White House Covid adviser Dr Scott Atlas apologises for appearing on Russian state TV

Donald Trump’s go-to adviser on the coronavirus pandemic has apologised for sitting for a 27-minute interview with RT, the Russian state media giant, where he railed against lockdown protocols he said were “killing people”.

Dr Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist tapped by the president to advise the White House’s coronavirus task force, has consistently sided with the president by taking a firm stand against safety precautions that promote social distancing against rising cases in the US, saying the harm to the economy from lockdown measures outweighs the benefits of Covid mitigation efforts.

Mr Atlas tweeted his apology on Sunday for appearing on Russian state TV to promulgate his views.

“I recently did an interview with RT and was unaware they are a registered foreign agent,” the doctor wrote. “I regret doing the interview and apologize for allowing myself to be taken advantage of. I especially apologise to the national security community who is working hard to defend us.”

In the RT interview, Dr Atlas unloaded on doctors and scientists who have promoted more aggressive steps to curtail the virus’ spread.

“The lockdowns… will go down as an epic failure of public policy by people who refused to accept they were wrong — were wrong, refused to accept they were wrong, didn’t know the data, didn’t care and became a frenzy of stopping COVID-19 cases at all costs,” he said.

“And those costs are massive. … And what’s happening here is that the argument is undeniable. The lockdowns are killing people but they’re not really impactful, the lockdowns,” he said, citing no evidence.

He clarified that by “lockdown”, he does not mean everyone going into isolation. Dr Atlas has previously provided false or misleading information on the efficacy of social distancing and mask-wearing and has indicated he believes the US is conducting too many Covid tests.

“And by lockdowns, I don’t mean everyone frozen in time and their spacesuit, all alone in a room, because that’s easy to say, oh, we’re not for lockdowns. But what they are for are testing asymptomatics, confining people into isolation from their work, from their family for 7, for 14 days, closing in-person schools, closing businesses. That’s lockdown,” Dr Atlas said.

Dr Atlas has openly sparred with Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert who told The Washington Post this week he believes Dr Atlas does not have much academic authority on diseases like coronavirus.

“I have real problems with that guy,” Dr Fauci told the Post. “He’s a smart guy who’s talking about things that I believe he doesn’t have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Dr Atlas, who has curried favour with Mr Trump and his top economic aides by prioritising the short-term health of the US macroeconomy over US public health more broadly, shot right back in a series of hashtags on Twitter.

“#Insecurity #EmbarrassingHimself #Exposed #CantThrowABall #NoTimeForPolitics,” he wrote.

White House spokesman Judd Deere issued a statement on Saturday reprimanding Dr Fauci for going after Dr Atlas in his interview with the Post. Trump has grouped in Dr Fauci with “idiots” who he claims want to shut down the US economy amid the pandemic. Dr Fauci has tried to toe the line between not publicly denigrating the president but also promoting more aggressive Covid safety policies.

“It’s unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr. Fauci, a senior member of the President’s Coronavirus Taskforce and someone who has praised President Trump’s actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics,” Mr Deere said in a statement, CNN reported.

Dr Fauci has previously accused the Trump campaign for taking his words of praise for the Trump administration out of context and using them in a campaign ad that he did not agree to.

The infectious disease expert told the Post he believed Mr Biden’s campaign was taking coronavirus “seriously from a public health perspective.”

Mr Biden has been hosting socially distanced drive-in rallies down the home stretch of the 2020 campaign, while Mr Trump has hosted in-person rallies with thousands of tightly packed supporters, many of whom haven’t been wearing masks.


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