WH Radiologist Pushing Herd Immunity Hires Trump’s Atty From The Russia Probe

Dr. Scott Atlas.Screengrab / KUSI News / YouTube

JakeThomas

Dr. Scott Atlas does not have a background in public health, epidemiology or infectious diseases.

Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist who recently joined the White House coronavirus response team, hired Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz to threaten a number of doctors and researchers affiliated with Stanford University who signed an open letter criticizing Atlas’ views on the virus.

Atlas, who worked as a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is a proponent of “herd immunity” in dealing with the pandemic, which favors allowing the virus to course through the public in order that more people develop an immune response.

As noted earlier this month by NPR,

It is true that building up immunity can limit or even stop the spread of a virus like COVID-19, says Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

But in the past, that strategy has only worked through vaccination. The idea that you somehow could allow the virus to spread through healthy populations without also putting older and sicker Americans at risk is naive, he says.

"It's very difficult to protect vulnerable populations once the virus is transmitting extensively," he says. "We haven't seen any success of that."

"COVID is dramatically more risky for everybody than the flu," he says. "There's just no comparison. It's at least an order of magnitude worse — tenfold or more."

NPR also reported,

Moreover, people face a range of experiences with COVID-19. It's not a dichotomy of death or recovery. There is increasing evidence that some people who beat COVID-19 have lingering side effects. CDC data indicates that roughly a third of COVID survivors ages 18-34 suffer health effects like fatigue and cough for weeks after they're no longer infectious. There's also reports of strokes and more serious complications, though the data isn't quite clear on how common that is.

However, in April, Atlas “spoke in favor of allowing the virus to pass through the younger segments of the population, while trying to protect older Americans,” NPR reported.

"We can allow a lot of people to get infected," he said. "Those who are not at risk to die or have a serious hospital-requiring illness, we should be fine with letting them get infected, generating immunity on their own, and the more immunity in the community, the better we can eradicate the threat of the virus."

The Stanford signatories took issue with Atlas’ views, writing that they run contrary to solid public health policy.

“Many of his opinions and statements run counter to established science and, by doing so, undermine public-health authorities and the credible science that guides effective public health policy,” the experts wrote in their letter, according to Politico.

The letter explicitly mentioned Atlas’ views on herd immunity:

The pandemic will be controlled when a large proportion of a population has developed immunity (referred to as herd immunity) and that the safest path to herd immunity is through deployment of rigorously evaluated, effective vaccines that have been approved by regulatory agencies.

In contrast, encouraging herd immunity through unchecked community transmission is not a safe public health strategy. In fact, this approach would do the opposite, causing a significant increase in preventable cases, suffering and deaths, especially among vulnerable populations, such as older individuals and essential workers.

The letter also said many of Atlas’ “opinions and statements run counter to established science and, by doing so, undermine public-health authorities and the credible science that guides effective public health policy.”

In response, the signatories received a letter from Kasowitz, who Politico noted “served as an outside counsel to President Donald Trump during the investigation into Russian election interference,” threatening a lawsuit. The attorney’s communication “gave the letter signers until the end of the day Friday to withdraw their claims or face legal action,” the outlet reported.

“[Y]our letter, which you wrote and sent with no regard for the truth, maliciously defames Dr. Atlas,” Kasowitz wrote. "We therefore demand that you immediately issue a press release withdrawing your letter and that you contact every media outlet worldwide that has reported on it to request an immediate correction of the record.”

Politico also noted that “Kasowitz’s letter was posted on Twitter by Michael Fischbach, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford who signed onto the missive criticizing Atlas.”

Fischbach wrote, “I stand by everything we said. More facts, more science. Less Kasowitz.”

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