News & Politics

Anti-Lockdown Dr. Scott Atlas Joins Coronavirus Task Force: Is Fauci Finally Out?

Vice President Mike Pence, joined by Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, listen as President Donald J. Trump takes questions from the press during a coronavirus update briefing Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

President Trump announced Monday that Dr. Scott Atlas is joining the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Dr. Atlas is a former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Before joining the team, Atlas penned an op-ed in The Hill that showed his approach to the coronavirus outbreak is much different than that of Anthony “Chicken Little” Fauci, who favors draconian lockdowns and now wants people to wear goggles to avoid getting a virus that most people recover from easily.

Here are some excerpts of the piece Atlas wrote, titled “The data is in-stop the panic and end the isolation.”

The tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be entering the containment phase. Tens of thousands of Americans have died, and Americans are now desperate for sensible policymakers who have the courage to ignore the panic and rely on facts. Leaders must examine accumulated data to see what has actually happened, rather than keep emphasizing hypothetical projections; combine that empirical evidence with fundamental principles of biology established for decades; and then thoughtfully restore the country to function.

Five key facts are being ignored by those calling for continuing the near-total lockdown.

Fact 1: The overwhelming majority of people do not have any significant risk of dying from COVID-19. The recent Stanford University antibody study now estimates that the fatality rate if infected is likely 0.1 to 0.2 percent, a risk far lower than previous World Health Organization estimates that were 20 to 30 times higher and that motivated isolation policies.

Fact 2: Protecting older, at-risk people eliminates hospital overcrowding…Dr. Leora Horwitz of NYU Medical Center concluded “age is far and away the strongest risk factor for hospitalization.” Even early WHO reports noted that 80 percent of all cases were mild, and more recent studies show a far more widespread rate of infection and lower rate of serious illness. Half of all people testing positive for infection have no symptoms at all. The vast majority of younger, otherwise healthy people do not need significant medical care if they catch this infection.

Fact 3: Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem…In this virus, we know that medical care is not even necessary for the vast majority of people who are infected. It is so mild that half of infected people are asymptomatic, shown in early data from the Diamond Princess ship, and then in Iceland and Italy. That has been falsely portrayed as a problem requiring mass isolation. In fact, infected people without severe illness are the immediately available vehicle for establishing widespread immunity. By transmitting the virus to others in the low-risk group who then generate antibodies, they block the network of pathways toward the most vulnerable people, ultimately ending the threat. Extending whole-population isolation would directly prevent that widespread immunity from developing.

Fact 4: People are dying because other medical care is not getting done due to hypothetical projections…An estimated 80 percent of brain surgery cases were skipped. Acute stroke and heart attack patients missed their only chances for treatment, some dying and many now facing permanent disability.

Fact 5: We have a clearly defined population at risk who can be protected with targeted measures…it is a commonsense, achievable goal to target isolation policy to that group, including strictly monitoring those who interact with them. Nursing home residents, the highest risk, should be the most straightforward to systematically protect from infected people, given that they already live in confined places with highly restricted entry.

It’s a relief that someone with common sense may be taking a bigger role in combatting the panic response to COVID-19 that has taken over the nation. Many of us, who are not even doctors, have been saying that we need to target the elderly population for protection while the rest of us go back to reality. We were totally ignored. But Atlas is now in a position of authority to tell someone who will listen to what the right thing to do is. It isn’t more lockdowns and more isolation.

Strictly protect the known vulnerable, self-isolate the mildly sick and open most workplaces and small businesses with some prudent large-group precautions. This would allow the essential socializing to generate immunity among those with minimal risk of serious consequence, while saving lives, preventing overcrowding of hospitals and limiting the enormous harms compounded by continued total isolation. Let’s stop underemphasizing empirical evidence while instead doubling down on hypothetical models. Facts matter.

This would mean that schools should be open immediately at regular capacity since children are not in the high-risk category and never have been. Not only that, but they are the ones for whom the virus is the least severe and they can help us achieve herd immunity much easier and faster than older populations.

I hope this development means that we will not see Dr. Fauci or the scarf-obsessed Dr. Birx for the foreseeable future. But could we get that lucky in 2020? Somehow, I doubt it.