Doctor Scott Atlas provided an interesting start to this year’s Informed Choice Iowa’s “Hold Strong” Conference on Nov. 12. Atlas is an American radiologist, political commentator and healthcare policy advisor. He was elected by President Donald J. Trump to serve on the White House Coronavirus Task Force in the summer of 2020.
Atlas noted the one thing that is “absolutely essential” coming out of the COVID pandemic is knowing the facts.
“And if you don’t know the facts, then you’re acting like the other side,” he said. “And you can’t really put off an argument that’s just based on assertion. That’s not what you’re supposed to be doing. That’s what you’ll hear back because there is no data to refute what I’m saying here. But I’d like to take this opportunity to inform people about the facts that probably most of you already know.”
Atlas called his presentation “Science, Academia and Public Health – Will Trust Return,” but said the alternative title would possibly be “A Pandemic of Failure by Academia, Science and Public Health – Will Trust Return.”
“This is the issue here,” he said. “It’s really not about COVID, it’s about what was exposed by the management of the pandemic about our society and what now the situation is. The situation is trust has been destroyed in institutions that we need to function as a free and ethical society. And that’s the pandemic – the failure of what we thought we have in this country. And more importantly, an ethical society.”
BREAKING SOCIAL CONTRACT WITH OUR CHILDREN
School and university leaders “broke the social contract with our most precious resource – our children,” Atlas said.
Those leaders harmed children and “grossly failed” as role models. There was no room for debate, even at universities where truth is supposed to be the pursuit.
“And the free exchange of ideas, which is essential to finding any truth and any solution to the next crisis, is under threat in the United States,” Atlas said. “And there’s a common theme here that I want to mention because I am a faculty member of a major university. The common theme is the university campuses. Universities are granted a special position in our society. They are granted to be the experts to the public. The experts in the media. The people who are generally appointed to lead government agencies. But the most important failure of all of the experts and the university experts particularly is the failure to teach our children how to behave, how to analyze information, how to treat other people.
It isn’t just the universities. Science and public health are also in “crisis,” Atlas said.
“It’s not true that it’s only a lack of freedom of speech, it’s that there is an unprecedented denial of fact in our universities, in medicine, in science, in the media, in public health,” he added. “The credential class, the so-called ‘expert class,’ has been exposed as non-expert, politicized and ethically deficient.
“What was claimed in the beginning was the SARS-2 Virus had a higher fatality rate than the flu by several orders of magnitude, everyone had a significant risk to die, no one has immunity because the virus is new and asymptomatic people are major drivers of the spread. That everyone is dangerous and equally spreads the infection. That walking down will stop or even eliminate the virus. That masks protect everyone and stop the spread and that immune protection can only be from a vaccine. All of these things are false. But it’s not that it’s learned. All of these things were known to be false by spring of 2020.”
Atlas said what was enacted was what the lock-downers wanted.
“And they’re called the Birx-Fauci Lockdowns,” he said.
It started as 15 days to slow the spread. At the time, most people believed this was reasonable to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. It would be smart if it could slow the spread.
Deborah Birx, who was in charge of the White House Task Force medical side, wrote all of the initial White House guidance to every single governor, Atlas said.
“She was giving all of the federal guidance before, during and after my time in Washington,” Atlas said. “Anthony Fauci wasn’t in charge of anything, but he was the most influential person – he was the public face of the task force in the media.”
When Joe Biden became President, Fauci was named chief medical adviser.
“Their policy guidance started out as flatten the curve and then became stop all cases at all costs including lockdowns,” Atlas said. “And that means school closures, business shutdowns, limits on medical care and a host of restrictions, mandates, quarantines, etc. And their guidance was implemented by almost every state throughout the country throughout that year plus under two different administrations. And what are the results?
“Their policy failed. More than a million deaths are attributed to the virus and their policy itself caused massive death and destruction – particularly among low-income families and children.”
Atlas showed a slide of COVID deaths per million compared to peer nations. The U.S. was one of the worst in the world. He pointed out that there has been no change in the rate of death attributed to COVID under the two presidents.
“This is not political even though the second administration had the vaccine,” he said. “The lock-downers and the academic experts recommended them and demonized the alternative. Their policies were implemented. Their policies failed — killing and hurting millions of people.”
Atlas said. Lockdowns were not previously recommended.
“No one knows this,” he said. “Lockdowns were not standard pandemic management.”
Instead, for more than 15 years, standard pandemic management was requests of isolation for those sick in the home or in the hospital while encouraging others to continue to work.
“Closing schools for longer than 10-14 days at the very beginning of an epidemic was not warranted,” he said. “Canceling or postponing large meetings would not have any significant effect. There was no basis for recommending quarantining the groups or individuals and screening passengers at borders or closing air travel. Experience has shown that those actions are not effective, they were not recommended. That is standard pandemic management 15 years before this pandemic. The safer alternative was called targeted protection. This was known. It wasn’t just standard, it was voiced.”
The targeted protection was what any “common sense person” and any doctor would know, he added.
“Increase the protection of the high-risk group and stop the destruction of quarantining and isolating everybody else,” Atlas said.
He referenced the Great Barrington Declaration, which was written seven months later and exposed the harms of a lockdown.
TWO LIES FROM ACADEMIC SCIENCE
Academic science promulgated two lies, he said:
First, if you’re against lockdowns you are choosing the economy over lies.
“This was an overt lie,” Atlas said. “This is contrary to decades of economics literature which proves that economic downturns kill people.”
The second lie was if you’re against lockdowns you’re for allowing the infection to spread with a so-called “herd immunity” strategy.
“There was no one who said that that I was aware of,” Atlas said. “I never heard anyone say that in the White House. No one advised that to the President. This was not even discussed. It wasn’t even mentioned. Yet there were people on the task force who came out of my first meeting of the task force and said that’s what I said. That’s called propaganda.”
The lockdowns, Atlas said, were “wreckless, unethical and nonstandard policy.”
“Targeted protection was known as safer, ethical and standard practice,” he said. “You won’t hear that in the media.”
WHO MISSED THE MARK ON FATALITY RATES
An initial WHO estimate came out with a high fatality rate of 3.4 percent.
“After five minutes, everybody in medicine understood that that was incorrect because the bottom number of that fraction instead of being the total number of people that were affected, it was the total number of people that were sick enough to go see a doctor. But that’s much smaller in this virus, like most. The true infection fatality rate is about .04, .05 if you’re under 70. That is similar in order of magnitude to the infection fatality rate of influenza. You can’t say that, but that’s the truth. If you’re under 70.”
For those older, the infection fatality rate is much higher – if you’re old and frail. Eighty percent of deaths occurred in people over 65.
“And there’s a massive gradient of fatality rates. Young people have a several thousand-fold lower risk of death than old people. A fact that was never given by people like Dr. Fauci, the average or median age of COVID death is older than the median life expectancy in most countries.”
Atlas said that doesn’t minimize that people died from COVID, but said it provides a clinical perspective needed for the public.
“In fact, two-thirds of COVID deaths occurred over life expectancy,” he said. “That’s a fact. That’s not an opinion. Two-thirds of COVID deaths in the United States were in people who were not just old, people who had greater than or equal to six comorbidities. OK? I still to this day have not heard anybody say that in public media, which is shocking. If you’re a 75-year-old person who is fit, you’re not at higher risk from COVID. That’s just a fact. That’s what the data shows. The risk to healthy children is extraordinarily low, but it was never talked about in the media.”
In California, Atlas said it is true that 14 percent of cases were in people under 18, but zero percent of deaths were in people under 18. (That’s not to say zero deaths happened). In Florida, there were 13 deaths for those under 16. If you’re under 30, the case fatality rate was still zero.
“It was known since the spring of 2020 that the risk of spread from children is extremely low,” Atlas said. “And that was based on studies from all over the world.”
SCHOOLS WERE MOST PRESSING ISSUE
In 17 European countries, schools were not associated with accelerating community spread. K-12 teachers in open schools had the same incidence as a community.
“Any teacher who says that they’re at higher risk for COVID and needs some kind of special situation is either lying or they are frankly too stupid to teach our children,” Atlas said. “It’s one of the two.”
Atlas said when he got to Washington D.C. on July 31, he wanted to address the “most obvious” thing that should be done. It was the schools.
“Healthy children did not have a high risk of the virus, the harms of closing in-person schools were enormous,” he said. “And because there is nothing, in my opinion, more important to any civilized society than educating our children.”
He said it was already known online learning was “a gross failure.”
“All over the world we saw an explosion of learning losses,” he said. “And for people who are in working-class or lower socioeconomic groups, that’s where you detect hearing or visual problems – at school. That’s where kids get their most nutritious meal – at school. That’s where they learn of course, all of our kids learn, conflict resolution, working in groups, physical activity, language. Anybody who has a kid understands that what you learn in school is far more than the information that you’re given. I mean, this is absurd to think that online learning could substitute trade versus school. And all of these losses were far worse for minorities and poor children. For a country that purports to care about so-called disadvantaged groups, we destroyed selectively children from those groups.”
On Aug. 12, Atlas organized a White House event with experts from educational policy, nursing, parents, etc.
“And we recommended safely, according to what was known, returning to schools,” he said. “That explicitly talked about standards of hygiene and hand-washing and encouraging the use of masks because we wanted people to be able to return to school. We were the only country of our peer nations that closed the schools – almost the only one in the fall of 2020.”
Peer nations in Western Europe almost all opened schools while America closed schools.
Medical care visits for teens dropped way down. Mental illness exploded. Self-harm visits in teens doubled or tripled.
“Self-harm visits for teenagers means putting cigarettes out on your skin or slashing your wrists,” he said. “And this has to be said in a very brutally honest way – that this is real people we’re talking about here.”
Psychiatric visits for anxiety disorder and major depression in college students exploded. Drug abuse, substance abuse disorders in teens exploded during the lockdown.
“This is from the lockdown,” Atlas said. “Not from the virus. None of this is from the virus itself. This is from the isolation. There’s a long list of things that I could go through.”
There were about 300,000 cases of child abuse in the United States that went unreported during the spring of 2020 school closures alone because schools are the No. 1 agency for child abuse reports. One in four college students in the U.S. contemplated suicide by June of 2020 from the isolation. Suicide attempts in teen girls exploded compared to the previous year.
“And of course the learning losses were massive,” he said.
America has seen the largest score declines in math in elementary and middle schoolers since testing was initiated.
He shared a quote from Nelson Mandela that said:
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
“And the United States failed,” Atlas said. “Objectively failed. It’s a disgrace. The lockdowns also failed. No matter what anybody tells you, the data shows the lockdowns failed.”
LOCKDOWNS A LUXURY OF THE RICH
In March of 2021, a study was released from 24 European countries that shows severe lockdown policies had not been associated with lower mortality. From January of 2021 there were not significant benefits in case growth from lockdowns.
“Cases were not changed,” Atlas said.
In June 2021 the lockdown policies led to an increase in excess deaths.
“Excess deaths were falling, but once the lockdowns were instituted, the death toll increased,” Atlas said. “As you may remember, they were arresting people in parks and on beaches and confining people to their homes which is where the cases spread and you cannot isolate from high-risk elderly.”
A Johns Hopkins study by Hanke showed lockdowns had “little to no effect” on COVID death. It also said they are ill-founded and should be rejected as pandemic policy.
Models from the University of Chicago showed some of the states that did the best on mortality, economy and education were some of the states opened the most. The states that did the worst were California, New Mexico, New York, Washington D.C. and New Jersey.
“The states with the most stringent lockdown policies,” Atlas said. “They killed people with the lockdowns.”
Atlas said lockdowns directly killed people because half of the 650,000 cancer patients in America skipped chemotherapy. Also, 40-50 percent of acute stroke and heart attack patients refused to call an ambulance. Organ transplants were down 85 percent.
“The diseases didn’t go away,” Atlas said.
The lockdowns hurt lower-income groups to spare the affluent, he added. There was a more profound drop in education and a prolonged drop in education among lower-income families. They were also impacted economically more than the affluent.
“They destroyed low-income people,” he said. “That’s why I call lockdowns the luxury of the rich.”
PUBLIC HEALTH ETHICS IN US HAVE ‘COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED’
Another measure of an ethical society is how it handles vaccines in children.
A United Kingdom advisory panel to the government issued a statement that said the “marginal benefit” is too small to support advice on universal vaccination of otherwise healthy teens. In Finland, people under 16 are not in a high-risk group and will not be vaccinated. In Norway, for children offered the vaccine but not yet reached 16, parents must consent.
“These are ethical societies,” Atlas said. “These are not science deniers.”
Meanwhile, he shared a quote from Eric Rubin, a member of a U.S. FDA committee that voted in favor of giving COVID shots to kids.
“We’re never going to learn how safe the vaccine is until we start giving it.”
“You know I never thought I’d live in a country where I heard anyone say that,” Atlas said. “Let alone the advisors to the FDA.”
Atlas said the U.S. Public Health’s ethics have “completely disappeared.”
He shared this quote:
“If a school is implementing a testing strategy testing should be on a voluntary basis. It is unethical and illegal to test someone who does not want to be tested.”
“Who said that,” Atlas asked. “The CDC said that. You can’t find that anymore on the CDC website.”
A ‘UNIQUELY POISONOUS’ MEDIA
So, what was different this time?
“Well, I feel the main differences are in the media and social media,” Atlas said. “This is the first pandemic in the social media era and it amplified everything and created really a frenzy in a very highly politicized environment in our country.
“Our media is uniquely poisonous frankly.”
Data published toward the end of 2020 on all COVID stories in English-speaking media showed that in the U.S., 91 percent of COVID stories were negative. In non-U.S. media, it was 54 percent negative.
“We had the same pandemic,” Atlas said. “Our media was really responsible for invoking fear in the public.”
In addition to being biased, he said it actively censored information and bragged about it.
“Academics tried to block the scientific debate,” Atlas said. “You can’t have science without the scientific debate and the free exchange of ideas.”
A group of virologists published an opinion in February of 2020 that said they stand together and strongly condemn “conspiracy theories” suggesting COVID doesn’t have a natural origin.
“No one would even say that today, let alone know it in February of 2020,” Atlas said. “They’re saying you’re a conspiracy theorist if you think it came out of a lab, intentionally or not. There is no place for a medical publication to publish something like that.
“Our academic scientists have been exposed not just as ignorant, not just as fearful, but as political. We sort of knew that, but this is an exposure.
Atlas talked about being censured by Stanford for what he said, even though two other faculty members said the same thing.
“I wonder why,” he said.
Then he showed that in the Stanford zip code, where you have to live in order to work at Stanford as a faculty member, 95 percent voted for Biden and three percent went for Trump.
“Even America’s media, the most politicized and really despicably dishonest media in the world, recognizes it was political,” Atlas said.
He quoted the Wall Street Journal editorial board that highlighted the attack on Atlas. He quoted National Review which said that he had been singled out for political erasure because he joined President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force.
“You know, when you’re called on by the President of the United States as an American to help in a time of crisis, your answer is yes,” Atlas said.
A SINFUL LEGACY OF UNIVERSITY, PUBLIC HEALTH LEADERSHIP
He pivoted to what he called a “sinful legacy” of university leadership and public health leadership for damaging children.
More than half of college students experienced unwanted weight gain during 2020. And it averaged 28 pounds.
“That’s obesity,” Atlas said. “That’s a public health crisis they’ve created in college students. Fifty percent of college students said they’re afraid of all social interaction in the United States. There is now a politicized trust in public health guidance.”
He showed the difference in parental support for sending kids to school based on political party.
“The trust in science itself has been politicized,” Atlas said. “Over the last 40 years, there’s been no real difference in political party on if you have a ‘great deal of confidence in science.’ And now look – there’s an explosion of a difference between Democrats and Republicans.”
RESTORING THE TRUST
Atlas finished by discussing how trust can be restored. He said the first principle requires good people with integrity must rise up.
“Rise up means speak up, make your voice heard,” he said. “That’s what you’re encouraged to do in a democracy. In fact, you’re expected to do that in a democracy. That’s what any fair-minded person would think rise up means.”
Individuals with integrity must be seen as well, he said.
“In my view, I think you’re kidding yourself if you think that somehow good leadership is going to suddenly come up from the top that’s going to fix this,” he said. “Institutional leaders must rise up and lead. This is the answer to what they need. They need a spine.”
There are more than 60 presidents of private universities in America who make more than $1 million a year.
“What are they doing for that money,” Atlas asked.
He said political leaders must lead with action and not just complain. He then showed a photo of Gov. Ron DeSantis. In March of 2021, DeSantis invited Atlas to have a roundtable going through the pandemic. The live Q&A with the press took place and was heard all over the place, but was removed from YouTube shortly after.
“And so, what does a leader do,” Atlas said. “Well, Ron DeSantis called me up and said we’re having another assembly here about that censorship. And so we did And on April 12, he reassembled me, Jay and Martin and we talked about the censorship itself. And now that video is back up on YouTube. We need to encourage people who are not in the government, who are not political to help. We cannot have bureaucrats run things that they don’t know what they’re doing.
“Anthony Fauci is a bureaucrat in a position for 30 years. To see a picture of him in a white coat on a magazine cover is really shocking. These are people, Birx and Fauci, who have been in government positions for 30-plus years. We need people whose careers are not wedded to working in the government.”
Atlas said answers need to come from people actually doing the research on the pandemic, not by government bureaucrats.
He detailed a meeting he organized with people doing the work in the field and the White House. But he said he was only given five minutes.
“This is in the Oval Office and the President has some questions and the others for 45, 50 minutes straight,” Atlas said. “He wanted his questions answered. Why are we in a society where it’s considered a political problem to answer questions for the President of the United States? If you think that President is in conflict, you’d better get in there and hope that good people are helping him. I mean this is common sense.”
Universities, including private universities, receive millions of dollars from the government. He said that there are more than a dozen university medical centers in the U.S. that receive more than half a billion every year from the NIH alone.
“But they are not ultimately accountable for ensuring the free exchange of ideas about the science that they’re doing research on,” he said. “ think that that’s a way that we can make people answer to what’s going on. We need to demand a public apology from the people who were grossly wrong and destroyed millions of people.”
Atlas said it is about living in a “rational ethical society” and the American people need to know the facts. Trust also has to be restored. And they need to publicly admit they were wrong so it is on record.
“They will do it again,” he said. “If there is no public admission and public apology, in my way of thinking, we’re going to see lockdowns again for a variety of things if this doesn’t happen.”
He also said we should hold people legally accountable for defaming others.
We also need new institutions of moral authority.
“Our conventional institutions have failed,” he said. “And we need to recognize that.
“Before we do anything, there are errors that must be publicly admitted. These people have a legacy. This is their legacy – avoidable death to society’s most vulnerable, massive destruction of low-income families, ongoing enormous health damages to our children and a severe loss of trust in public health and science.
“It took 359 years for the Catholic Church to formally recognize that the Earth moves, that Galileo was right. I’m betting it’s going to take longer than 359 years for the lock-downers to admit that they were wrong.”