Science adviser to Donald Trump to leave the White House

Science adviser to Donald Trump to leave the White House
White House coronavirus adviser Dr Scott Atlas (Evan Vucci/AP)

A science adviser to US President Donald Trump who was sceptical of measures to control the coronavirus outbreak is leaving his White House post.

A White House official confirmed Dr Scott Atlas, a Stanford University neuroradiologist who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment.

Dr Atlas confirmed the news in a Monday evening tweet.

He joined the White House this summer where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Deborah Birx, as he resisted stronger efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed more than 267,000 Americans.

Global Covid-19 cases and deaths (PA Graphics)

Dr Atlas has broken with government experts and the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community to criticise efforts to encourage face coverings to slow the spread of the virus.

Weeks ago, he responded to Michigan’s latest virus restrictions by encouraging people to “rise up” against the state’s policies.

His views also prompted Stanford to issue a statement distancing itself from the faculty member, saying Dr 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 in November.

“We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities.”

Dr 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.

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