The corporate conflicts of Trump’s new coronavirus advisor are exposed by Judd Legum at popular.info.
But conflicts of interest are the least of this new guy’s issues.
It does seem to some of we observers that Trump has given up on fighting the COVID–19 pandemic. Until this morning I attributed that to incompetence. Not so. For this new guy, not even trying to control the spread is a matter of policy. He, and by extension Trump, are perfectly happy to let us all get sick and have millions die. Read on.
Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s leading experts on infectious diseases, has been sidelined. Fauci has not appeared with Trump at a coronavirus briefing since April 22. Instead, Fauci has attempted to communicate accurate scientific information through media appearances — while Trump undermines Fauci’s message via Twitter.
Trump has installed Scott Atlas, a frequent guest on Fox News, to effectively replace Fauci. Although Atlas is a doctor, he is wildly unqualified for the role. Atlas is not an infectious disease expert or epidemiologist. He is a radiologist. His 159-page CV contains no references to “epidemiology,” “epidemic,” “virus,” or “viral.”
Atlas’ primary qualification is that he tells Trump what he wants to hear. Atlas has called for the reopening of schools, raised doubts about the efficacy of masks, criticized lockdowns, and downplayed the importance of testing. These positions are not supported by reliable scientific evidence. And they are rejected by subject-matter experts. But those positions, because they are favored by Trump, have put Atlas at the center of the federal government response to the pandemic.
Atlas, according to Politico, is “part of a tiny group of advisers who meet every morning to chart the daily response to Covid–19.” The group also includes Jared Kushner and Steven Miller, two other people with no qualifications to be involved in such an effort.
On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Atlas is using his new influence to push Trump toward a “herd immunity” strategy. That involves allowing the virus to quickly spread through the population, while protecting some vulnerable groups, to allow most people to build immunity to the coronavirus. It has been pursued in Sweden with disastrous results.
Achieving herd immunity would require 65 to 70 percent of the American population to contract COVID–19. Assuming a 1% fatality rate, that would mean 2.13 million deaths.
The stark numbers have not dissuaded Atlas. While promoting the reopening of schools in Florida on Monday, Atlas described the potential for children to spread the virus to adults as “icing on the cake.”
But Atlas’ issues extend beyond his lack of qualifications and dangerous policy prescriptions. He also holds numerous positions in the corporate world that create conflicts of interest. While playing a central role in the federal government’s multi-trillion dollar coronavirus response, Atlas holds leadership and advisory positions with pharmaceutical companies, a healthcare diagnostic company, and a medical venture capital firm.