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After Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx Criticized the COVID Task Force, Dr. Scott Atlas Couldn't Stay Silent

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

I just finished an interview with Dr. Scott Atlas. Dr. Atlas was a member of President Donald Trump's COVID task force. He's a well-known health care policy advisor, a Senior Fellow at Standford's Hoover Institution and was Chief of Neuroradiology at the Stanford University Medical Center. 


He's also been an outspoken critic of the widespread lockdown strategy recommended by Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx and employed by the vast majority of American governors over the past year. 

Generally, when I sit down for an interview with a figure like Dr. Atlas, my goal is to elicit some response or statement that separates this "media hit" from any other interview Dr. Atlas may have committed to. The thought process is: "If I can generate one good headline out of this interview, I've done good work." 

Well, Dr. Atlas went above and beyond here. He is so candid and so direct in his observations and criticisms of his former colleagues and those now directing policy for the Biden White House I'm at a loss as to where to begin. 

One good headline? How about several? 


Dr. Scott Atlas: The COVID Vaccine Was NOT Fauci's Triumph 

O'CONNOR: Could you lend a little bit of context to Dr. Fauci taking credit for the vaccine? 

ATLAS: The vaccine development was first initiated by the president's realization that he was going to do what turned out to be a very smart thing, which was to take the risk away from the company's developing the vaccines and just paying for hundreds of millions of doses and development and production in advance of them even having the vaccine developed, and that was a smart gamble. But then after that, the point of the development and vaccine distribution and everything was done by other people. 

Dr. Slaoui was in charge of the vaccine development program. General Perna and FEMA and other people were in charge of logistics and distribution planning. Alex Azar the Secretary of HHS and his team were overall in charge of Operation Warp Speed. 


The name that you mentioned earlier is missing from the list of people that were involved in the vaccine. 

O'CONNOR: That'd be Dr. Anthony Fauci. I just want to quote him, "When I saw what happened in New York City almost overrunning our healthcare system, that's when it became very clear: the decision we made on January 10th to go all out and develop a vaccine may have been the best decision that I've ever made with regard to intervention as a director of the institute." From your first-hand knowledge of this situation, this was not his decision? 

ATLAS: For him to claim credit for that is sort of unconscionable. 

Dr. Scott Atlas: CNN Did Not Invite Me for The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out Program

O'CONNOR: Several other doctors that were involved in the Trump team, they're featured on CNN... by the way, I noticed you weren't there. Did they invite you to be a part of that conversation about your first-hand experience as a doctor on the COVID-19 task force under President Trump? 

ATLAS: No, but they did ask for comments, which I chose not to give because there's no point in giving comments to people who are going to lie and distort about what you said so... no point. 

Dr. Scott Atlas: Birx, Fauci "Despicable People Lying to Distort History" 

O'CONNOR: It sure seems like they had a whole lot of criticism about the people that they were working with in the White House that they never voiced when they actually had some level of influence and could have made a difference if they really had those problems. 

ATLAS: It's more than that. It's really a completely false story that they're trying to perpetrate to the public. Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, the other people... their decisions, their recommendations were to do the lockdowns, the curfews, the significant restrictions on freedom, the school closures, all of these things. And those recommendations were then implemented all over the country, with some rare exceptions of a couple of states like Florida or South Dakota. Their recommendations were followed by the governors who did the implementation. 


They're lying basically, they're trying to distance themselves from responsibility. This is obvious. They're trying to distance themselves from the accountability as if someone who complained or criticized the policies that they recommended were to blame for the implementation of the policies that they recommended. In other words, it's just like "Alice in Wonderland" here, except it's worse because it's really just people, despicable people lying and trying to distort history. They're rewriting history, you know. The reality is Dr. Birx was the task force coordinator, her recommendations were being given to the governors. Dr. Fauci's recommendations... they're all over the media giving the recommendations. We know what they said and what they said was done, you know. So this is the historical fact, and no matter what they say to change that, you know, I'm sorry, but the truth matters. 

Dr. Scott Atlas: Florida Did Better Than Other States By Refusing Lockdowns

O'CONNOR: You mentioned Florida here as being one of the outliers with regard to not, you know, taking as Gospel and not taking this directive from Dr. Birx and the team with regard to lockdowns. They did go a different direction, and I mean, the data is in is it not? 

ATLAS: This is the point. There should be no mistake here. The burden of saying "you did something good" is on the people who did these impositions of unprecedented restrictions on individuals... closing medical care, closing schools, all these things. If they cannot prove that they did something better than the people who governed in a more sensible way, they failed. Those policies failed. Florida, for instance, they opened their schools. All Florida schools, 100%, are open in-person and have been so for months. There are still options for parents if they want to do distance education. But, in terms of the policy, it's open. There are no mask mandates in Florida. The businesses are not closed like the people who recommended the lockdowns, and it turns out not only did Florida do just as well, they actually did better if you look at the excess mortality rate increase - in other words, of the deaths over and above what would have been predicted without the pandemic - and the percentage increase... Florida did better than 2/3 of the states, and the states that they did better than all did the lockdowns. 


Dr. Scott Atlas: We Have a Massive Public Health Crisis Because of Lockdowns

ATLAS: We have a massive public health crisis because of the lockdown. Four hundred thousand new deaths from tuberculosis this year in the world because of diversion of medical resources. One hundred and thirty million new people in abject starvation level poverty in the world because of the diversion of lockdown resources and blockage of international economic development. We had half the people in the United States almost... had chemotherapy skipped, their chemotherapy for cancer, you know, we missed something like up to 78% of cancers that would newly be diagnosed because they didn't come in for their screening. We had one out of four people 18 to 24-years-old that thought about killing themselves. We had a 300% increase in teenage medical visits from teenagers to doctors for self-harm. I mean, this is a massively destructive policy. the question isn't even did it work or not, the question is what are we doing here? We're killing people, destroying people, particularly the low-income people and, you know, while the rich guys and the affluent people sit at home and work from their computer, and you know, "it's inconvenient" as Dr. Fauci said. 

Dr. Scott Atlas: CDC Dir. Walensky Should be FIRED for "Impending Doom" Hysterics

O'CONNOR: You've said it's no longer acceptable to be able to make these decisions and claim you're just doing it out of fear. Just this week, we had our current head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, say that she was -  these are her words - "scared" and she felt "impending doom" about where we're headed. From a public policy standpoint, and also just based on where the numbers and data are, is that kind of language helpful number one and even justified? 


ATLAS: The person should be fired immediately for saying something like that. That is completely unprofessional and honestly unacceptable for a leader of public policy to say something like that. I don't even know how to express... I've had people from all over the world... world-renowned medical scientists and infectious disease and in public policy, contact me and say, "What is going on in the United States?" This kind of talk disqualifies someone from being in a position of leadership in my view, completely and totally. 

Dr. Scott Atlas: Empirical Data Proves Mask Mandates Don't Work 

O'CONNOR: I'd love you to comment on the state of Wisconsin. The Supreme Court just struck down a statewide mask mandate and, of course, you know, we're getting hysterical responses about this... "If you don't have a state mandate to wear masks that just means we're going to have another spread of the virus and it's going to be devastating!" At this point, your impression of the masks and how it's been implemented, and the effectiveness of a mandate. There's one thing to think that it's good to wear a mask, there's a second when the government now says you must wear a mask. 

ATLAS: There are two separate issues: one is the issue of a mask themselves and another is the issue of the power of the government. If you just want to talk about the mask themselves, the mask mandates do not work. That's not even necessarily saying that masks don't work, but we know places that have mask mandates did not have an impact. There is no scientific evidence that mask mandates have stopped the spread of the disease. In fact, they did not. Empirically, this is not an opinion it's factual, it's inarguable. The second point is when we see what's going on now, if people are worried that cases are coming up in certain parts of the United States and so the response of these same people is, therefore, the states like Texas or Florida, they should never have said, "Don't have a mass mandate." Why did we not make the obvious observation here that the cases are exploding in places with the mask mandates? They are not exploding in Texas and in Florida like they are in places with the mask mandates like Michigan, for instance. Or in New York, New Jersey, have higher increases in cases right now than the places that we don't have a mask mandate. I don't understand that disconnect between fact here. There's some denial of fact going on. 



This is all from my one interview with Dr. Atlas and, amazingly, there's even more!  Watch the whole interview in the video player above, or listen to the podcast of the interview on the player below. 

Larry O'Connor hosts a 2-hour radio program on KABC in Los Angeles and a separate, 3-hour radio program on WMAL in Washington, DC. Both shows are heard daily, Monday through Friday and the podcasts can be found here. 

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