“Many of his opinions and statements run counter to established science and, by doing so, undermine public-health authorities and the credible science that guides effective public health policy,” they wrote.
Dr. Atlas, a radiologist and senior fellow at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution, has become a proponent of controversial ideas on how to combat the coronavirus. He has gone against recommendations put forward by top government doctors and scientists like Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, promoting instead ideas embraced by Mr. Trump that have not been proven scientifically.
“I think Trump clearly does not like the advice he was receiving from the people who are the experts — Fauci, Birx, etc. — so he has slowly shifted from their advice to somebody who tells him what he wants to hear,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University who is close to Dr. Birx.
Dr. Atlas has argued that the science behind wearing a mask is uncertain and that children cannot pass along the virus. He was part of the decision in early September to modify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s testing guidelines to exclude asymptomatic people — despite the fact that research shows that people with no symptoms can still carry a high virus load.
He also has supported purposefully creating “herd immunity,” a questionable strategy that would require mass exposure to Covid-19 in order to create total immunity.
The letter refutes his assertions point by point.
Encouraging unchecked virus transmission to reach herd immunity would create “a significant increase in preventable cases, suffering and deaths, especially among vulnerable populations, such as older individuals and essential workers,” the faculty members wrote. The safest path to herd immunity “is through deployment of rigorously evaluated, effective vaccines that have been approved by regulatory agencies,” they added.
“Failure to follow the science — or deliberately misrepresenting the science — will lead to immense avoidable harm,” the authors wrote.