Conservative pundit offers support for Atlas

2020 06 22 23 26 5950 Coronavirus Global Spread 400

In a new column published October 1 in National Review, conservative commentator Victor Davis Hanson offers support for White House adviser Dr. Scott Atlas, who has come under fire for his views on how to manage the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Atlas is a neuroradiologist who in August was appointed to advise President Donald Trump on the U.S. government's response to COVID-19. Atlas has been connected to theories on developing a "herd immunity" response to COVID-19, and his appointment was widely seen as an attempt to develop a more conservative counterweight to administration officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.

But Atlas' appointment has drawn fire from a number of researchers in the fields of epidemiology and infectious disease. For example, a number of researchers from Stanford University -- where Atlas was a neuroradiologist for 14 years -- signed on to a September 9 letter that accused Atlas of promulgating "falsehoods and misrepresentations of science" in his statements on the pandemic.

In his National Review article, Hanson -- who like Atlas is affiliated with the Hoover Institution -- described Atlas as "one of the world's top neuroradiologists" and said that Atlas has become an expert on public health policy, in particular on the cost-benefit analysis of government programs.

Hanson noted that Atlas has advised that states focus their resources on protecting people who are most at risk of death from COVID-19, while allowing younger people to reenter the workforce and schools "with appropriate caution." In particular, Atlas has advised against the imposition of "draconian lockdowns" that can prevent people from getting necessary medical exams and procedures.

Hanson believes that complaints about Atlas have lacked scientific evidence, and he also took aim at critics who contend that Atlas "can't be a public-health expert because he was originally a neuroradiologist."

He concludes by noting that Stanford has won renown for fostering a diversity of opinion on the COVID-19 pandemic that he believes has punctured some misconceptions about the virus.

"How ironic that some critics fault Atlas for not following science, but they do so in a fashion that is completely ... well, unscientific," Hanson wrote.

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