House panel condemns influence of Trump adviser on pandemic

A report released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis chastised the influence physician Scott Atlas had in the Trump administration during his time as pandemic adviser and accused him of undermining the government’s efforts to fight against COVID-19.

During his time working with the Trump administration, Atlas frequently sparked controversy over his promotion of practices that apparently contradicted pandemic mitigation methods recommended by other federal government health officials.

The subcommittee’s report, titled “The Atlas Dogma,” listed numerous instances in which the Trump administration took what the panel called “dangerous and discredited” approaches to handling the pandemic, including the strategy of herd immunity of which Atlas is a proponent.

Atlas has been regularly accused of seeking to downplay the severity of the pandemic, calling the government’s early response to COVID-19 an “overreaction”. He frequently criticized mask-wearing and social distancing and often mocked other health authorities and politicians who encouraged these practices.

Atlas’ influence on the Trump administration appears to have begun before he was appointed adviser, according to the report, with the panel saying his involvement was covered up for several weeks after he was hired.

The report states that Jared Kushner, a former White House adviser and son-in-law of former President Trump, instructed Atlas not to announce himself on conference calls and to hide his White House identification, even at the time. former White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx.

The report further claimed that Atlas was successful in encouraging the Trump administration to weaken testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as reduce overall testing.

“Administration officials used ‘Atlas dogma’ to justify their downplaying of the virus ahead of the November presidential election and their continued deprioritization of the crisis as they worked to overturn election results,” we read in the report.

He added that adopting the so-called Atlas Dogma, a name Birx used to refer to his influence in the White House, has hurt the United States’ ability to respond effectively to the pandemic as vaccines and antivirals were still not available.

It was also noted that other COVID-19 officials in Trump’s White House appeared not to be as receptive to Atlas’ presence as those in Trump’s inner circle.

Birx told the panel that Atlas may have provided White House leaders with “biased” data. Former CDC director Robert Redfield also apparently clashed with Atlas, telling the House subcommittee that Atlas spoke to him “aggressively” when his agency reinstated its original testing guidelines, with the doctor apparently being “enraged” by the decision.

This isn’t the first time Atlas’ disagreements with other health officials in the former administration have been noted. Emails leaked last year revealed that Birx and White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci both believed Atlas’ views on the pandemic were “dangerous”.

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