Former White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Scott Atlas critiqued Dr. Deborah Birx’s testimony before congressional lawmakers Tuesday as “an Orwellian attempt to rewrite history.”
“It is not a surprise that Dr. Birx, as the official Task Force Coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force from late Feb. 2020 through Jan. 19, 2021, might want to blame others for the failure of her policies,” Atlas told The Federalist, after portions of Dr. Birx’s closed-door testimony to the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis became public.
In a two-day panel interview on Oct. 12 and 13, Birx castigated her former White House colleague for giving what she declared dangerous recommendations that led to tens of thousands more deaths.
“I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates,” she said, alongside “the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent less to 40 percent less range.”
Birx added she made it clear that she demanded no dissent in White House meetings as she recommended officials embrace draconian lockdowns to the detriment of millions. She also made her attendance contingent on Atlas’ absence.
I just felt that it gave people in the White House an alternative position and data source that would allow them to say, again, here’s Debbie Birx, a federal employee for 40 years, here’s Scott Atlas, an academic, a physician, a thinker versus a technocrat; and I just felt like that was going to make it even more difficult to get across how severe I felt the fall and winter was going to be. And it was my concern over the fall and winter that I didn’t want a 180 degree voice present at critical decision-making meetings.
In the end, however, Birx said she was ultimately sidelined in favor of recommendations from Atlas, smearing him as “a person that is basically wanting community spread to increase.”
In a statement to The Federalist, Atlas, a radiologist and fellow at the Hoover Institution, rejected the idea Birx was treated the way she described to House lawmakers, and described a long-time bureaucrat who got nearly everything she wanted in the form of a nationwide embrace of prolonged lockdowns.
“As Task Force Coordinator, she held the authority over thee official federal advice on medical policy. Birx officially represented the White House and the Task Force to dozens of states, meetings with governors, and local authorities and appearing on media on dozens of visits,” Atlas said. “The policy recommendations of Dr. Birx as coordinator of the White House Task Force were implemented by governors throughout nearly every nation during 2020.”
Those policies, Atlas added, “failed to stop the dying, failed to stop the infection from spreading, and inflicted massive health damage and destruction, particularly on working class and lower-income families and on our children.”
A joint study from the Rand Corporation and the University of Southern California published in June offers credence to Atlas’ claim. Titled, “The Impact of The COVID-19 Pandemic And Policy Responses On Excess Mortality,” researchers found lockdowns following the COVID outbreaks did nothing to minimize fatalities and may have even been increased fatalities.
“We failed to find that countries or U.S. states that implemented [shelter-in-place] policies earlier, and in which [shelter-in-place] policies had longer to operate, had lower excess deaths than countries/U.S. states that were slower to implement [shelter-in-place] policies,” researchers concluded. Some places, that did see shelter-in-place orders on the other hand, saw ‘excess mortality increases.'”
“The increase in excess mortality is statistically significant in the immediate weeks following [shelter-in-place] implementation,” the researchers concluded.
Atlas, a proponent of “focused protection” as opposed to draconian lockdowns, also repudiated Birx’s label of his recommendations as free rein for the coronavirus to spread.
“The claim that I advised the president at any point in my time in Washington to ‘let the infection spread widely without mitigation to achieve herd immunity’ is false. I never advised the president, the Task Force, or anyone else while in Washington to allow the virus to spread,” Atlas told The Federalist. “Dozens of my writings and interviews during my Washington service explicitly called for specific mitigations, including social distancing, extra hygiene, and masks when not able to socially distance.”
Atlas resigned his White House post in November he completed 130 days of service as a special government employee. His book, “A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America” will be out next month and is currently available for pre-order.
“History’s biggest failure of public health policy lies directly at the hands of those who recommended the lockdowns and those who implemented them,” Atlas said. “Not on those who advised otherwise. Period.”