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STANFORD, CA — Scott Atlas joined the White House coronavirus task force over the summer amid a swirl of controversy over his qualifications and ideas. He's checking out at the height of the pandemic.
The former Stanford neuroradiologist and Hoover Institution fellow submitted his resignation letter Monday, Axios reports.
Atlas was tapped to join the Trump administration's coronavirus task force in August despite questionable qualifications. He had no prior experience in epidemiology or infectious diseases, according to his Stanford bio page.
Atlas expressed views inconsistent with mainstream science, including advocating for a controversial "herd-immunity" strategy, and argued against policies embraced by public health experts in the United States and throughout the world.
"Scott is a very famous man who's also very highly respected," Trump said as he introduced his new advisor in early August.
"He has many great ideas and he thinks what we've done is really good."
Atlas advocated for a “herd-immunity” strategy in a Fox interview in July but distanced himself from those views in August according to a Washington Post report.
"When younger, healthier people get the disease, they don't have a problem with the disease. I'm not sure why that's so difficult for everyone to acknowledge," Atlas told Fox News.
"These people getting the infection is not really a problem, and in fact, as we said months ago, when you isolate everyone, including all the healthy people, you're prolonging the problem because you're preventing population immunity. Low-risk groups getting the infection is not a problem."
An Atlas tweet downplaying the importance of mask-wearing was removed by the social media company for “sharing false or misleading content related to Covid-19 that could lead to harm” according to a CNN report.
Atlas' views were embraced by the Trump administration and right-wing media but made him a pariah in the scientific community and an embarrassment to Stanford.
Dozens of Stanford experts in September co-signed an open letter denouncing their former colleague for expressing views they say undermine public health efforts.
Stanford issued a statement rebuking Atlas last month saying "Dr. Atlas has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university's approach in response to the pandemic. Dr. Atlas's statements reflect his personal views, not those of the Hoover Institution or the university.
Atlas leaves the task force as the coronavirus crisis is exploding throughout most of the country.
The United States surpassed four million new cases in November on Saturday, more than doubling the 1.9 million new cases it experienced in all of the previous month, and all indications are that the crisis will get worse before it gets better, an infectious disease expert told The New York Times.
“We are on track to continue this accelerated pace of the epidemic and see even more speed of rise of cases because of the movement indoors, of activities around the country and because large numbers of people have moved around the country for the holidays,” Johns Hopkins University’s Director of the Center for Health Security Tom Inglesby told The Times.
Read more at Axios