The New York Times describe Scott Atlas as having “unorthodox” ideas, and “pushing a suite of disputed policy prescriptions” in this article https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/02/us/politics/trump-scott-atlas-coronavirus.html#click=https://t.co/0jLWPfUQ7g.
Yet for anyone who has read a little bit of public health and heard Atlas speak, this seems to be very far from the truth.
Atlas recommends an evidence based public health approach that falls into line with World Health Organisation’s 2019 pandemic mitigation plan and Donald Henderson’s 2006 Disease Mitigation Measures. These are not questionable, unorthodox or political ideologies. They are just evidence. The calm, informed courage of Atlas as a voice of reason in a sea of confusion and political angst is surely going to help turn tides. On 3 September he shared an opinion piece titled Restore our lives using medical science, data and common sense.
Infectious diseases are naturally associated with high emotion, panic and fear. The role of public health is to reduce these anxieties and promote evidence that protects us. Sadly, in 2020 far more damage has been heaped on the world by riding roughshod over public health evidence. Panic-favoured weak experimental ideas have been bandied around in such random ways that confusion reigns instead of calm rationality. A balanced summary of why and how this happened is provided by data scientist Thaddeus Michaels in Why did the whole world lose its nerve?
Vincent Racaniello, a Poliovirus expert from New York University interviewed Donald Henderson in 2016. Henderson talks about his experiences in disease control, including his role leading the global smallpox eradication program. The only virus that has ever been successfully eradicated. You would think that two virologists speaking together would be a real snooze but it’s an engaging historical story about trying to control disease that we in 2020 need to hear. Spoken in voices of calm and reason.