Trump Adviser Scott Atlas Apologizes Over Interview to Russian Agency

One of President Donald Trump’s top medical advisers issued an apology on Sunday for giving an interview to a Russian news agency that’s registered as a foreign agent in the U.S.

Scott Atlas, a physician and one-time Fox commentator who rose to the president’s inner circle after repeatedly downplaying the risk of the coronavirus, issued an apology Sunday, in particular to U.S. national security officials.

In the interview with RT, formerly known as Russia Today, Atlas was deeply critical of lockdown measures and also criticized U.S. media for its portrayal of the pandemic.

“The lockdowns will go down as an epic failure of public policy,” he told the Russian agency. U.S. public health officials are “killing people with their fear-inducing shutdown policies.”

Atlas also said that deaths in Asia are lower than the U.S. not because of public health measures, but because of what he termed higher existing immunity in countries like South Korea to the novel coronavirus because of previous viruses in the region.

Atlas is a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where members of the medical faculty issued a public letter in September disavowing Atlas’s remarks. He responded with a legal threat.

Atlas routinely diverges from consensus health advice of senior public health officials. Two weeks ago, Twitter blocked a tweet of his that said masks don’t work in slowing the virus’s spread. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have both criticized Atlas.

More than 230,000 Americans have died from the virus, and more than 9 million cases have been confirmed. The virus is surging again in the U.S., with a record 99,000 cases reported on Friday. Roughly 1,000 people are dying in the U.S. daily from the virus.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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