Coronavirus

Scott Atlas a vital voice of reason on White House Coronavirus Task Force

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In a recent interview on Lockdown TV, Dr. Scott Atlas, a healthcare policy scholar, medical scientist and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, aired his philosophy and view of how the world has handled the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

In the discussion, Atlas stripped bare the arguments for lockdowns and cleared the air on the assumption that he advocates for “a herd immunity strategy.” He quickly dispenses with the notion that a strategy of mitigation—one similar to that offered by some of the world’s top epidemiologists in the Great Barrington Declaration—is akin to “survival of the fittest” as the lockdowners complain.

The conflation of a measured, holistic approach with the heartless idea of letting disease spread unfettered through society is a convenient strawman used to scare people into submitting to the egregious exercise of state power. Responding to those misguided critics, Atlas notes:

“It’s not a ‘strategy’ to say that herd immunity exists—it is obtained when a certain percentage of the population becomes resistant or immune to an infection, whether that is by getting infected or getting a vaccine or by a combination of both. In fact, if you don’t believe that herd immunity exists as a way to block the pathways to the vulnerable in an infection, then you would never advocate or believe in giving widespread vaccination—that’s the whole point of it.”

It is crucial that we recognize the limits of government action, the importance of human rights and understand that every policy is a trade-off with potential for unintended consequences. Dr. Atlas knows that population immunity is a biological reality. It must be a part of a disease mitigation strategy as much as considering gravity would be a part of running a mile.

In contrast to the prevailing strategy among many politicians and public health officials, he outlines his preferred approach in three parts

  • “Number one: aggressive protection of high risk individuals and the vulnerable (typically the elderly and those with comorbidities). 
  • Number two: allocate resources so that we prevent hospital overcrowding, so that people can be treated for this virus and get the other serious medical care that is needed. 
  • Number three: open schools, society and businesses because keeping them closed is enormously harmful—in fact it kills people.”

Leading Dr. Atlas’ philosophy is the reality that we can inflict much more damage on a greater number of people by enacting these sorts of draconian lockdowns. But even as a public health measure, they will fail. At one point in the interview, he offers proof that millions of American lives will be unnecessarily hurt by the overreaching public health mandates::

“650,000 Americans are on chemotherapy ­— half of them didn’t come in for their chemo because they were afraid. Two-thirds of screenings for cancer were not done; half of childhood immunizations did not get done; 85% of living organ transplants did not get done.”

Dr. Atlas also derides Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for viewing the pandemic with a narrow focus and forgetting the immense harm that lockdowns cause. He describes the dystopian lockdown ethos as a compilation of “bizarre, maybe well-intentioned ideas” but ultimately deems them as “inappropriate and destructive policies.”

Dr. Atlas’ point of view mirrors that of Maine Policy and its recent report on Maine state government’s response to the coronavirus. This was the first time in the modern era that politicians have seen it fit to commandeer everyday life in order to combat a new virus. It is a travesty, the extent to which those who oppose lockdowns and embrace decades of disease mitigation precedent are maligned by those who crow for more lockdowns.

Politicians and state-sponsored scientists propagated a narrative with far-reaching psychological implications for the general public. By closing schools, businesses and severely restricting gatherings to the point of crippling the arts, governors all over the country have unraveled the fabric of life for thousands of Americans.

One aspect of this saga that is truly “unprecedented” is the massive social experiment conducted by public health academics to which we have all become subjects. This is an experiment which aims to manage and record every in-person interaction and demands that we accept its all-knowing authority to accurately test us, trace our contacts and subject us to arbitrary restrictions that sap our natural right to self-determination.

We should be calling every institution of society to task on protecting those who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection. Scientists knew this back in March. What we should absolutely not do is try to engineer society to zero new cases. It is an impossible goal.

An approved and effective vaccine has not been developed. Widespread usage of that vaccine sufficient to reach herd immunity could take a year or more. To believe that having zero cases is possible without a vaccine places too much faith in the state and too little faith in one’s neighbors.

Those who advocate for more sweeping lockdowns, like those currently underway in the United Kingdom and Ireland, must understand that they own the consequences of trying to plan the world when it inevitably fails.

Join Maine Policy Institute on Thursday, October 29 for a keynote speech from Mr. Jeffrey Tucker, Editorial Director of American Institute for Economic Research, and host of the Great Barrington Declaration. His speech will be a part of the 2020 Freedom & Opportunity virtual program. Register for free here.

About Nick Murray

Nick Murray, of Cornish, currently serves as Policy Analyst with Maine Policy Institute, writing, researching, and bringing Mainers together over the issues facing the state. Previously, he served as Outreach Coordinator, planning events to spread the word about Maine Policy's work to new audiences around Maine.

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