Scott Atlas, controversial science adviser for Trump, resigns from White House role

Nick Allen
U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Scott Atlas - Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Scott Atlas - Reuters

Donald Trump's controversial coronavirus adviser Dr Scott Atlas has resigned after clashing repeatedly with other members of the White House pandemic task force. 

Dr Atlas, a Stanford University neuroradiologist, had been sharply criticised by public health officials including Dr Anthony Fauci, America's leading infectious diseases expert. 

He had repeatedly downplayed the importance of masks and called lockdowns an "epic failure" in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Following his departure from the White House his peers at Stanford issued a statement, saying: “Dr Scott Atlas’ resignation today is long overdue and underscores the triumph of science and truth over falsehoods and misinformation.

"His actions have undermined and threatened public health even as countless lives have been lost."

Dr Celine Grounder, a member of Joe Biden's advisory panel on the virus, said: "I’m relieved that, in the future, people who are qualified, people who are infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists like me will be helping to lead this effort.

"You wouldn’t go to a podiatrist for a heart attack and that was essentially what was happening."

In his resignation letter Dr Atlas said: "Like all scientists and health policy scholars, I learned new information and synthesised the latest data from around the world, all in an effort to provide you with the best information to serve the greater good."

Dr Atlas was hired as a "special government employee," which limited his government service to 130 days in a calendar year, which he reached this week.

It came as a bipartisan group of US senators unveiled a new $908 billion coronavirus relief bill. However, the bill has not yet been backed by Mr Trump, Mr Biden, or the leaders of both parties in the Senate.

A total of 4.2 million new coronavirus cases were reported in the US in November. That was more than double the previous monthly record set in October.

More than 36,000 people died in November and hospitalisations have reached a record high of 93,000.