The supposed experts shaping the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus forced their tunnel vision upon the administration, according to a former member of the White House Coronavirus Response Team.
In a new book, Dr. Scott Atlas lambastes the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx and former CDC Director Robert Redfield for refusing to look at all options.
In his book, “A Plague Upon Our House,” Atlas recounted an incident in which he wrote that he presented compelling data indicating that schools should be reopened and that children were not major factors in the spread of the virus.
Fauci and others acted as though he had never spoken, he wrote, according to excerpts published Saturday by Fox News.
“As I finished, there was silence,” Atlas wrote. “No one offered any contrary data … Zero comments from Dr. Birx. Nothing from Dr. Fauci.”
“And as always, not a single mention by Birx or Fauci about the serious harms of school closures. In my mind, this was bizarre,” he wrote.
Atlas wrote that he appeared to be the only one on the team looking at facts before forming theories.
“Why was I the only one in the room with detailed knowledge of the literature? Why was I the only one considering the data on such an important topic with a critical eye? Were the others simply accepting bottom lines and conclusions, without any analytical evaluation? Weren’t they supposed to be expert medical scientists, too? I waited,” he wrote.
When the reaction arrived, it was hostile.
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Birx said Atlas was “out of the mainstream” and part of a “fringe” group supporting school reopening, Atlas wrote, according to Fox.
“Meanwhile she insisted that all experts agreed with her,” Atlas wrote. “I shook my head, thinking of some of the world-class epidemiologists who agreed with me—John Ioannidis and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, Martin Kulldorff of Harvard, Carl Heneghan and Sunetra Gupta of Oxford—and wondered if she or Fauci had ever read a single publication by them.”
Atlas said he presented detailed data about the spread of the virus through children. Children were unlikely to spread the disease to adults, he wrote, and were themselves in little danger of catching it. In Sweden, in particular, he wrote, there were no children’s deaths from COVID-19, though schools remained open and there were no mask mandates.
“The icing on the cake was the evidence that almost all coronavirus transmission to children comes from adults, not the other way around,” Atlas wrote.
Atlas wrote that Redfield indicated that in his mind, the mountain of data was inconclusive.
“I was disgusted at Redfield’s apparent lack of knowledge, shocked at his ignoring the scientific studies that had been published from around the world,” Atlas wrote. “I looked around the room, wondering if anyone else understood the glaring incompetence on display. Clearly, [Vice President Mike] Pence needed more input.”
In excerpts published Friday by the U.K. Daily Mail, Atlas explained the root of his opposition to policies that pushed lockdowns as the magic answer to stopping the virus.
“People were dying from the virus, and the lockdown policies were not preventing the deaths,” he wrote. “The simple logic of assuming you could stop the spread of, and some said eliminate, a highly contagious virus by shutting down society after millions had been infected was worse than nonsensical.
“The idea of stopping all businesses and closing schools while quarantining healthy young people at little risk from a disease in order to protect those aged seventy and over — that is simply irrational,” he wrote.
In the book, he wrote that former President Donald Trump was being given bad advice from his top advisers.
“They had let Birx and Fauci tell governors to prolong the lockdowns and school closures and continue the severe restrictions on businesses – strategies that failed to stop the elderly from dying, failed to stop the cases, and destroyed families and sacrificed children,” he wrote, according to the Daily Mail. “The closest advisers to the president, including the VP, seemed more concerned with politics, even though the task force was putting out the wrong advice, contrary to the president’s desire to reopen schools and businesses.”
Birx and Atlas have tussled in the past.
In late October, as Fox reported, Atlas accused Birx of trying to “rewrite history” during congressional testimony in which she said Trump’s advisers failed to push mask-wearing, social distancing, and other steps that could have saved lives.
Birx claimed Atlas wanted to let the virus spread to build herd immunity, regardless of the cost, a claim he denies.
“I never advised the president, the Task Force, or anyone else while in Washington to allow the virus to spread,” Atlas told Fox.
“Dozens of my writings and interviews during my Washington service explicitly called for specific mitigations, including social distancing, extra hygiene, and masks when not able to socially distance, and ‘focused protection,’ a heightened protection of those at risk, to allow a safe opening and end the public health destruction from lockdowns.”