Dr. Scott Atlas, President Donald Trump’s controversial special adviser on the coronavirus, has resigned.
Thanking President Trump for the honor of serving the American people, Dr. Atlas said he had “always relied on the latest science and evidence without any political consideration or influence”.
During his four months in the role, Dr. Atlas questioned the need for masks and other measures to control the pandemic.
He also repeatedly clashed with other members of the coronavirus task force.
Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist and senior fellow at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution, joined the task force in August. As well as questioning the usefulness of masks he was against lockdowns and supported herd immunity as a strategy to deal with the outbreak.
He sparked further controversy last month when he tweeted “people rise up” in response to new restrictions imposed in Michigan.
Dr. Atlas’ tweet came just weeks after it emerged Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was the subject of an alleged kidnapping attempt by militia members opposed to virus mitigation efforts.
Public health officials – including top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci – had accused Dr. Atlas of giving President Trump misleading information about the spread of the virus.
As of November 29, the number of Covid-19 cases recorded in November in the US surpassed four million, double the figure recorded in October.
Academics at Stanford University welcomed Dr. Atlas’ resignation, saying it was “long overdue and underscores the triumph of science and truth over falsehoods and misinformation”.
Fox News said Dr. Atlas had joined the administration on a 130-day contract, which was set to expire this week.
In his resignation letter, carried by Fox, Dr. Atlas said his advice had “always focused on minimizing all the harms from both the pandemic and the structural policies themselves, especially to the working class and poor”.
He also spoke of the “free exchange of ideas that lead to scientific truths”, adding: “Indeed, I cannot think of a time where safeguarding science and the scientific debate is more urgent.”
President-elect Joe Biden has taken a markedly different stance to his predecessor, urging everyone to wear masks and pledging a bedrock of science to his policy on tackling the pandemic.