Health Science

Trump’s Coronavirus Advisor Says Masks Are Ineffective; Experts Say He is Wrong

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In recent months, Trump has increasingly turned to Dr. Scott Atlas for advice on the coronavirus, even though Dr. Atlas is a radiologist with no experience in epidemiology or infectious diseases.

A few days ago, Dr. Atlas tweeted that masks don’t work, and Twitter blocked his tweet because it is inaccurate and misleading. People’s lives are at stake.

MarketWatch reported:

Twitter Inc. on Sunday blocked a post by Dr. Scott Atlas, one of President Donald Trump’s top health advisers, after he claimed face masks were ineffective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

“Masks work? NO” he tweeted Sunday, following by a thread of posts that misrepresented scientific findings on masks.

Twitter TWTR blocked the post citing a violation of its policy against sharing false or harmful information.

Atlas’s tweet also contradicts the official guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing a mask when outside one’s home. There is widespread agreement among health experts that wearing face masks is the simplest and most effective way to curtail the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine is developed.

Atlas, a Stanford radiologist with no background in infectious diseases, joined the White House coronavirus task force in August. He has been a vocal supporter of Trump and opposes lockdowns in favor of pursuing a strategy of herd immunity. 

Also Sunday, Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease expert, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Atlas’ herd-immunity theory “is the most amazing combination of pixie dust and pseudoscience I’ve ever seen.” Osterholm said herd immunity requires 50%-70% of the population getting infected — far more than Atlas claims — which would likely cause tens of thousands of preventable deaths.

Others have been similarly dismissive of Atlas. Last month, CDC Director Robert Redfield was overheard on a phone call saying of Atlas:  “Everything he says is false.”

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