Dr Scott Atlas, a science adviser to President Donald Trump who clashed with top government scientists over COVID-19 control measures, has resigned from his White House post.
A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuro-radiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment.
Mr Atlas confirmed the news in a Monday evening tweet.
He joined the White House this summer, where he voiced his scepticism at measures recommended by Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Deborah Birx, and resisted stronger efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 267,000 people in the US.
Mr Atlas has clashed with government experts, and the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, to criticise efforts to encourage the use of face coverings to slow the spread of the virus.
Just weeks ago on Twitter he responded to Michigan’s latest virus restrictions by encouraging people to “rise up” against the state’s policies.
He also said lockdowns had been “an epic failure” in stopping the spread of the virus.
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On 1 November Mr Atlas had to apologise for an interview with Russia’s Kremlin-backed television station RT, saying he was unaware it was a registered foreign agent.
His views also prompted Stanford to issue a statement distancing itself from the faculty member, saying Mr Atlas “has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic”.
“We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing,” the university said on 16 November.
Honored to have served @realDonaldTrump and the American people during these difficult times. pic.twitter.com/xT1hRoYBMh
— Scott W. Atlas (@ScottWAtlas) December 1, 2020
“We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities.”
Mr Atlas defended his role in his resignation letter, saying, “I cannot think of a time where safeguarding science and the scientific debate is more urgent.”
He was hired as a “special government employee”, which limited his service to government to 130 days in a calendar year – a deadline he reached this week.
“Dr Scott Atlas’ resignation today is long overdue and underscores the triumph of science and truth over falsehoods and
misinformation,” his peers at Stanford University’s medical school said in a statement issued late on Monday.