WASHINGTON – Dr. Scott Atlas, scientific adviser to US President Donald Trump who was skeptical of measures to control the coronavirus epidemic, is stepping down from his post at the White House.
A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuroradiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned after his temporary government assignment ended. Atlas confirmed the news in a tweet on Monday evening.
Atlas joined the White House this summer, where he clashed with top scientists including Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Deborah Birx as he resisted stronger efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic which killed more than 267,000 Americans.
Atlas has broken with government experts and the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community to criticize efforts to encourage facial coverage to slow the spread of the virus. Just a few weeks ago, on Twitter, he responded to Michigan’s latest viral restrictions by encouraging people to “stand up” against state policies.
His views also prompted Stanford to issue a statement distancing itself from the faculty member, saying Atlas “has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach to responding to the pandemic.” ”
“We support the use of masks, social distancing, and the performance of surveillance and diagnostic tests,” the university said on November 16. “We also believe in the importance of strictly following the advice of local and national health authorities. ”
Atlas defended his role in his resignation letter, saying, “I cannot think of a time when the safeguard of science and the scientific debate are more urgent. ”
Atlas was hired as a “special government employee,” which limited his government service to 130 days per calendar year – a deadline he reached this week.