Erstwhile Trump administration adviser for COVID-19, Dr. Scott Atlas, called lockdowns in the U.S. and other countries as a "heinous abuse of power." He lamented that lockdowns failed to protect the elderly and vulnerable.
During a May 20 American Thought Leaders interview, Atlas warned that America will suffer the consequences of the largely fear-driven lockdowns for a long time. "We will have a massive price to pay for what was done in the U.S. The consequences have been enormously harmful and they will last for decades after this pandemic is completely finished," Atlas said.
According to Atlas, public health experts largely failed in their approach to stop COVID-19 at all costs without considering the potential long-term consequences. Lockdowns were initially promoted as short-term measures to prevent overcrowding of medical facilities, which the former adviser called an "appropriate" response. But he elaborated that lockdowns only reflected the world's response to extremely "imperfect knowledge."
The former presidential adviser continued that fear took the place of rational and critical thinking as the basis for lockdowns. The goal of lockdowns also shifted from preventing overcrowding in hospitals to stopping COVID-19 cases entirely.
"Fear is very powerful, and it was really shown how powerful fear is during this pandemic. [Americans] bought into it because it was temporary, because [they] thought that would be a very small price to pay to get things under control," Atlas said.
He continued that there's a big reason why lockdowns "were never recommended in prior pandemics." Simple, logical and rational assessments were simply "thrown out the window," Atlas said.
According to Atlas, lockdowns ultimately failed to protect the elderly and high-risk individuals in the early months of the pandemic. "We saw even in March, April and May [of last year that] the lockdown policies were failing to protect the high-risk people. People were dying [and] they were elderly," he said during the interview.
The former adviser mentioned that deaths in nursing homes made up 40 to 50 percent of all COVID-19 fatalities. He added that 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state of Minnesota were in care home facilities.
Atlas mentioned that many other Americans have suffered because most medical resources were redirected toward fighting COVID-19. Some examples he mentioned included cancer patients skipping chemotherapy sessions, people who suffered heart attacks and strokes, fearing a 911 ambulance call and organ transplant surgeries being put on hold.
Aside from physical health, Atlas said lockdowns also negatively impacted people's mental health. He remarked that child abuse and domestic abuse rates rose significantly – alongside those of opioid deaths and suicides. (Related: 15-year-old Welsh boy hangs himself following coronavirus lockdown struggle.)
Atlas also noted that the number of young people suffering from depression and anxiety rose dramatically. He cited figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in June 2020 that said 40 percent of American adults experienced issues with mental health or substance use. The same data showed that one in four young adults aged 18 to 24 seriously considered suicide.
All in all, Atlas defended his statement that the lockdowns were a definite failure. "I think that it is still somehow held by many people that 'OK, the lockdowns are an economic harm, but we're saving lives.' No, you're destroying families and lives – and you're literally killing people with the lockdowns," he said.
He also noted that the lockdowns kept children out of school. "Many other people destroyed families [and] sacrificed our children out of fear for adults – even though the children do not have significant risk."
Ultimately, Atlas concluded that lockdowns were "a disgrace [and] a heinous abuse of the power of public health experts." Aside from serving as a COVID-19 adviser during the Trump administration, he is also a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Atlas resigned from his post in November 2020.
Earlier, a colleague of Atlas at Stanford also expressed his disdain toward lockdowns. A March 2021 Summit News report said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya called the measures "the single worst public health mistake in the last 100 years." The Stanford professor said: "Lockdowns themselves impose great harm on people. [They] are not a natural, normal way to live."
Bhattacharya pointed out the irony that areas with the most draconian lockdowns failed to contain the spread of COVID-19. He said that policies designed to protect the elderly and other vulnerable sectors would have been better instead of restricting the entire population.
"We will be counting the catastrophic health and psychological harms imposed on nearly every poor person on the face of the earth for a generation," Bhattacharya warned.