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New White House Doctor Scott Atlas Joins Coronavirus Task Force

August 17, 2020, 05.07 PM

Kavita Patel, a primary care physician and health policy expert who served in the Obama White House, said there’s little that can prepare a doctor for the crucible of a presidential staff, let alone working for the famously volatile Trump.

“I expect Dr. Atlas’ time will be marked with highs and lows and hopefully he will realize that the country really needs credible expertise and guidance, not partisan bias," said Patel.

“By being partisan or political while having such an important (role), doctors undermine their credibility and ultimately dilute the role of science."

White House spokesman Judd Deere, in a statement, praised Atlas as “a world-renowned physician and scholar” and dismissed questions about Atlas' qualifications.

“We are all in this fight together, and only the media would distort and diminish Dr. Atlas’ highly acclaimed career simply because he has come to serve the President,” he said.

Deere declined to say how long Atlas, who is now a paid special government employee, has been advising the president, and insisted his addition would not diminish the roles of Fauci and Birx.

Paul E. Peterson, director of the program on education policy and governance at Harvard University and a senior fellow at Hoover with Atlas, praised Atlas as “a really brilliant guy" with “a tremendous knowledge base” about the virus.

Read also: Indonesians Believe Coronavirus Is a Lie: Covid-19 Task Force Head

Peterson said Atlas is someone who conducts ”the most rigorous and careful research before he comes to a conclusion".

Some colleagues have found Atlas abrasive.

But Peterson, who has written several op-eds with Atlas advocating the reopening of schools and who appeared with Atlas at a White House event this past week, praised Atlas as “delightful to work with” and stressed the value of Trump having input from people with a variety of backgrounds.

“If you get a variety of people from one perspective or one kind of training out there, that’s not desirable," he said. "It’s extremely important to have diversity on the advisory board." 

(Writer: Jill Colvin)


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