By Kathy Gyngell – conservative woman –
A POWERFUL, unelected ‘cabal’ controls both scientific funding and health policy in America. This is the conclusion reached by Dr Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a founding fellow at Hillsdale College’s Academy for Science and Freedom, after his sojourn in the White House attempting to advise President Trump on Covid policy in face of Dr Anthony Fauci’s stonewalling.
In an interview with Jan Jekielek of American Thought Leaders which we published on TCW yesterday he said:
‘They implemented the policies they wanted. Those policies failed. We have 900,000-plus Americans who have died from Covid, according to the categorisation, millions of families destroyed, yet the same people are in charge. I don’t understand how that could possibly happen, but it is. We need accountability on the people in Pharma who didn’t show fully the data, okay? We don’t have the full set of data. We don’t have the full set of data from the CDC on complications from the vaccines. Why not? We can’t have people running massive, powerful funding agencies and controlling, therefore, all of research for 35, 40 years.’ But this is what has happened, he explained.
Today we publish the full transcript of the interview.
JAN JEKIELEK: The Covid-19 pandemic exposed deep-seated problems in America’s public health apparatus. It’s not nearly as objective or data-driven as one might expect. A powerful unelected few ultimately oversee who gets funded, who gets published in the prominent journals and who ultimately makes it to the top, says Dr Atlas. This is American Thought Leaders, and I’m Jan Jekielek. Dr Scott Atlas, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
SCOTT ATLAS: Great to be here. Thank you.
JJ: You were able to see the previous administration’s pandemic response first-hand, being in the White House in 2020 for a period of about four months. And now we’re here, you’ve launched an Academy of Science and Freedom here with Hillsdale, and you’re having an event around the censorship of science. So, you know, it’s kind of a long road. And so why don’t you give us a picture of how we got here?
SA: It’s a complicated question. I’ll start by giving what I saw as I entered this milieu of the White House, the task force and the advice given to the President. Remember, I got to the White House at the end of July after five to six months of Drs (Deborah) Birx and (Anthony) Fauci and (Robert) Redfield running the White House federal policy guidance to the states. And when I entered, the country was in a state of significant fear and people were dying and the policies were not working. That is, the infections were not being stopped or prevented from spreading. The high-risk people were still dying. The lockdowns were not . . . were already failing and we were sacrificing our children, really, and a whole younger generation by closing schools – and there was already significant data on that.
So when I got in, I was very naive at the time. I was coming from an academic and research environment where I was a health policy scholar at Hoover Institution for more than a decade full-time, working on complicated health policy questions. And of course, this was the most complicated health policy crisis that we had faced in a century. In addition, I had come out of a 25-years background of high level, really, academic medicine, clinical practice research and looking as a medical scientist at data. I expected the same when I entered the White House and thought I would see that same sort of approach. And what that means is an approach based on being very familiar with the data, being very familiar with the publications, reading them yourself, knowing how to critique a study based upon an adequate or an inadequate study design, which therefore makes the conclusions valid or invalid, and engaging in the scientific process, which means a sort of a process of listening to the exchange of ideas and understanding what is correct, what is not correct, what is known, what is not known.
What I saw was something quite the opposite. What I saw were people who were purported to be medical science experts, but in fact, they didn’t have that behaviour. What I heard and saw was the behaviour of people who did not have any scientific papers with them at these meetings. They did not have a working knowledge of the published literature. I brought in 15, 20 papers at a time in preparation for my comments to come forward. Their comments were just no data whatsoever and sort of a personal ad hominem attack. And this was a sort of behaviour that I, I think, is a behaviour of a bureaucrat interested in covering other bureaucrats and manipulating or working with the media to critique people who had a different opinion, which was myself.
So I was stunned by this behaviour; there was no critical analysis of what was going on. There were very sophomoric charts made. It was really very low-level and this was stunning to me, because my job as an adviser to the President in a crisis was to make sure his questions were answered, make sure the experts doing the research were in there answering his questions. And so I did that. I organised a group of scientists and medical physicians and researchers from the West Coast to the East Coast – you know, UCLA, Tufts, Harvard, Stanford, some of the top people doing the actual research. And we met with the President and the Vice President to give more information.
Not only was that thought of as threatening by the other doctors, we timed it so Dr Birx could come to the meeting and at the last second she pulled out. And that is not the behaviour of someone who is, really, should be at the table for looking at a complicated scientific and medical policy question. That’s the behaviour, in my view, of a bureaucrat. And this was a shock to me. I wasn’t in a political environment before this, and I didn’t think I was going into a political environment, because this was not a political question, people were dying, the policies of the lockdowns, the school closures, the business shutdowns, the restrictions of movement, the quarantining of asymptomatic people, these failed, already by then, to stop the spread of the infection. They failed to stop the high-risk people from dying, and they were really destroying millions of families and sacrificing our children.
So, you know, I was stunned and how we got here to this idea that we need to have an Institute for Science and Freedom, which is what we’re doing here – myself, Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, co-founding fellows of this, the umbrella of Hillsdale, as you mentioned. How would we get to that point? Well, because what we saw during the entire pandemic – and we still see today – is the opposite of what is needed in the scientific process, because the scientific process – in fact, all critical thinking – depends upon the free exchange of ideas. That process was thwarted by very powerful scientists in collusion with the media, as we see by the emails released that were written by Dr Francis Collins, the head of the National institutes of health (NIH),https://www.nih.gov/ and Dr Fauci, using their friends in the media to quote unquote ‘take down’ people who disagree with them, rather than engage in the scientific debate.
We saw this in the university campuses, my own university, Stanford University, had a group of professors in the medical school get together and, in a very unhinged way, an unprofessional way, censure me and try to intimidate me because of their own political feelings, frankly, which is a very sad indictment of the university culture. We need university expertise and, again, not just to find the truth that we need, but to teach our children, the students, that the appropriate process is not to slander, censure, intimidate, smear people to shut them up, but the process is to have more information to allow people to speak.
When a university says they’re for free speech that does not and should not be limited to, ‘Okay, you’re not fired.’ That’s not free speech. Free speech means speaking up as a credible person, which of course, I had a 25-year record of that at Stanford, and having that exchange of ideas, that scientific debate. And that was thwarted. Now that was thwarted successfully, not by thwarting me – that was not successful – but what was successful, sadly, was that other people were intimidated. Other people refused to come forward. I’ve had people on campus, on my block, come up to me and say, ‘Scott, so many people supported you at the medical school, but we were afraid to step forward.’ That’s very sad. That’s very frightening, that we cannot have a free exchange of ideas on a scholarly level in such a critical period of time, where there is no time in modern medical history where we needed the expertise [more]. And it was stopped, the whole process was stopped.
And this has contaminated, frankly, the campus mentality at Stanford and also at other places, where . . . I’m not sure how a student would learn critical thinking if they don’t hear views that are disparate from each other. That’s by definition necessary. You don’t need to be a scientist to be a critical thinker, but you cannot be a legitimate scientist without being a critical thinker. There was no critical thinking allowed. And we saw the media, your field, pile on and we see it today where people are taken down off of the social media, the YouTubes and the Twitters, where we see poisonous, really, things written in the search engines about people, character smears. And you know, this, again, is not adequate for a society that prides itself on being objective, on being data driven and on being free.
That kind of behaviour is unacceptable. Science itself now has become politicised even more than before. The pandemic did not cause, in my opinion, the politicisation of science, the smears from academia. These things all were just exposed. They were exposed very like the way people’s character is exposed under pressure. When you’re challenged as an individual, as a parent, in your family life, at work, when you’re challenged, your true character comes out. And there were people that were tested and they failed. They failed horribly. And it’s not just that they failed because they were incompetent, although that was part of it, they failed because of their own hubris. They will not admit they’re wrong. The data is very clear. The lockdowns were wrong. They failed. They destroyed people. We sacrificed our children in a very heinous way.
We need to restore trust in science, we need to restore trust, if possible, in the media, but we need to restore trust in university leadership. These things are gone or severely damaged and the first step is they must step forward and admit they were wrong. And that includes the public health agencies of the United States, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/ that have really dramatically failed in terms of transparency, in terms of high-level scientific basis for what they’re saying. I think there’s a lot of work to be done.
JJ: I’ve read a number of examples of this, where you were obviously being slandered. Was there anyone that came out and said, ‘Scott, I want to debate you’?
SA: In fact, quite the opposite. I wrote this in the book, but there was a conversation I had internally, frankly, with Dr Fauci, who asked me to meet with the other three doctors, the three of them: Fauci, Birx, Redfield, and I said, ‘I’m happy to do that. I would like to bring in some of the outside researchers and epidemiologists, and we can have a thorough discussion.’ That was the end of the conversation. There was no interest in discussing the data. When I had the experts come in and meet with the President and then the next day with the Vice President, Dr Birx pulled out of that meeting.
In fact, when the Stanford Medical School Group posted this letter, it’s only one medical scientist I’ll say, Martin Kulldorff [who] wrote to Stanford, publicly, at the time. And he said in his letter to the Stanford newspaper, ‘I challenge any of the signatories to a debate on the issues.’ And zero of the Stanford professors accepted Martin’s challenge, of course, because there is no way to debate that data, because everything I said was correct, everything I said was said by others too, including, you know, (Professor) Johnny Ioannidis and later other people about the things that were so thought to be controversial at the time, because the data was there.
The question is: why was that? Why did that happen? Why did these people do that? And I think there’s a lot of speculation and it’s hard to judge people’s motives, but you know, it was an election season. I’m not sure how much I had to do with it, but it seems like it had something to do with it since, you know, 97 per cent of Stanford zip code, meaning the faculty members, voted for Joe Biden in the election and 3 per cent voted for Donald Trump, which is a staggering statistic. But you know, politics should never have entered this.
And so you have to wonder why, and I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. Fear, including by the people who are on the faculty of these universities and the public health leadership, personal fear. And I think a defiance or a sort of a political hatred of anyone who would have the audacity to try to help the President fix the problem in this country, if that President was someone they didn’t approve of. And so I think it was a mixture of things that caused that kind of loss of rational thinking.
We need to expose the sort of corrupt inner circle of funding science because the NIH controls the funding of research and therefore controls all the promotions of scientists in universities, because you don’t get promoted, generally, without NIH grants. And so you can imagine that that control would not be an atmosphere where a young assistant professor would be willing to speak out against what the NIH leaders were saying, because it would jeopardise their own career. There’s a complex tangle, an unhealthy relationship, between the control of research funding, the control of academic careers and promotions, the control of publications by the journals that are necessary to get the research grants, and then, of course, the outside influence of companies, Big Pharma and even Tech these days, where we see this very complicated contamination of what we naively thought of as a rather pure environment, which was science.
JJ: That’s very interesting. So not long before this interview, I actually sat down with Dr Martin Kulldorf. We talked about this. Some of these funding . . . sort of confluence between the distribution of the funding and promotion and so forth – the academy and in the agencies. But one thing we didn’t talk about is the influence of Tech and Big Pharma and so forth. So how does that fit into this picture?
SA: Well, again, it’s sort of a tangled web that I was extremely naive about when I started, which was shocking to me, shocking, for instance, in a very subtle way, that I heard the people on the task force refer to the TV talking head types by their first names, indicating they were friends, they had established a relationship with these people and they use them to make sure that the narrative was what they wanted. You know, I mean, the fact was that the emails from Dr Collins that were retrieved under a Freedom of Information Act request showed that they . . . they – Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci – were colluding with the lay media, not science, to destroy or undermine or smear people who disagree with them.
We saw it in the scientific journals as well by the way, this was very new to me, I think unprecedented in modern history, that we had virologists write a letter to the editor of Lancet in February 2020 that said that it was a conspiracy theory if anyone even thought that there was a possibility that the virus leaked out of a lab rather than was simply natural. Now, they said, it was known. And of course, it wasn’t known in February 2020, it’s still not 100 per cent known today, but I don’t think anyone would say, ‘Oh, it’s definitely natural.’ And that . . . why was that written, is the point here?
That letter could only have been written to intimidate and stop anyone else from making that statement. And this is very dangerous. The journals were publishing character smears on top of that sort of thing. This kind of opinion piece that does not have a real scientific basis and in fact was contrary to the evidence, is a real abuse of what were very prestigious and influential journals. They’re still influential. But we saw it as garbage really produced in these journals. I’m talking about Lancet, New England Journal, Journal of the AMA, some of the world’s best journals, the British Medical Journal, including simple character smears. And this cannot go on. And part of this, again, relates to this sort of a cabal of people in powerful positions in the journal editorship who also review the NIH grants. There’s this very, very close and, like I say, unhealthy relationship.
In addition, all of the reviews, by the way, are done anonymously – the peer review process. And so the peer review process, although it might seem to be something that ensures honesty, because you don’t have to reveal who you were and you could be honest, it’s actually quite the opposite, it turns out, because it means that people can, without any accountability, stop a paper from being published. And that’s what happened. I got letters from over 100 scientists during the year 2020, saying, ‘First of all, please keep going. We’re afraid to step forward, but you’re right, everything you’re saying.’ But the second thing that many of them said was they can’t get their research published. These were very important papers that eventually got published – many of them, not all of them – including papers that showed that the original statistical models were grossly inaccurate. That group use of masks was not significantly effective on stopping or preventing the spread of the infection. These papers, eventually some of them were published, but it took many, many months.
So, it became a politicised atmosphere even in journals. And this is the kind of thing that we’re going to, first of all, explore and expose in this new Academy for Science and Freedom. And then we need to educate the public because anything that comes out of this is, really, it must come from the public. It’s not going to come from the top down. I think it has to come from a demand for transparency by Americans and the citizens of the world, a demand for honest science, a demand for disclosure of, really, relationships that are frankly corrupt, including relationships with industry. And we’re going to expose these issues and, at the same time, we hope to develop solutions to them.
JJ: No, absolutely. And this is . . . so, I wanted to touch on this. It’s this area around industry, how does the industry fit in?
SA: Well, the industry fits in in many ways. I mean, and I have to say that, you know, we have a fantastic, the most innovative, industry private sector for medical devices as well as pharmacologic development and diagnostics in the world, I mean, there’s no question about that. Our drug development excels compared to anywhere in the world. Our medical device production excels. We dominate the patents. We dominate new products. We dominate early access to approved drugs, particularly for cancer. We can go on about that. So it’s not like we don’t have a fantastic private sector here. That’s not the point. But the point is that we have to be careful in hiding or in not being transparent about things that are supported by Pharma.
Because basically, no matter how good of a person you are, if your company is making billions of dollars from a product, is it a surprise that one of the companies that makes vaccines for Covid, is it a surprise that the CEO gets out there the other day and says, ‘Oh, we need a fourth booster, we need a fourth dose’? Well, it’s not a surprise because the company’s mission is to make money. I’m not saying that’s the reason he said it, but it’s very difficult to separate that out. Now, when a Pharma CEO says it, the public should understand this. But when we have people advising the President, like we saw, when we have people going on TV writing pieces in the Wall Street Journal and other influential papers about how we must lock down until we have a vaccine, and then it turns out that person is on the board of one of the main companies making the vaccines, this is a problem.
I’m not saying that these people are necessarily corrupt, but that influence is corrupting, and that is a conflict of interest that, in some cases, should make you recuse yourself. We don’t even know the depths of Pharma’s funding or not funding of certain things. We know that in this emergency situation, the previous administration relieved the Pharma companies of liability that was in the . . . part of the interests of getting things done quickly and without hesitation. And I think that was very well-intentioned. But what we have now is a lack of transparency on the side-effects of the vaccines. We have an overt lack of transparency of the data. And when you have that, coupled with a zero liability against these companies, that’s a problem – you have basically undermined the trust in the vaccines unnecessarily, because the vaccines have, so far, good data on protecting people from dying who have a high risk of dying. But when you have a lack of transparency, when you have an unhealthy situation of financial gain from pushing more and more and more boosters, when you have advisers both inside the administration as well as people who were in the administration and had the ear of the President, when you have people going on TV as experts and they’re not very clear on emphasising that they are on the advisory board of the drug company making the vaccine, I think that’s wrong. I think many people would say it’s unethical. And the solution for that is not just admitting it or stating it clearly – the solution is recusing yourself, because there is, intentional or not, a problem with a conflict of interest there. And the American people generally believe what they hear. I mean everyone has, until this pandemic, and I think that era is really . . . has to be over.
We all trust people with credentials, but the credentials alone are not sufficient any more. In fact, we know now that many people with credentials are not to be trusted. And so we need to wear a critical hat here and look at not just the information, but who’s saying it. And I think that we need that revisiting. We need an airing of the conflicts of interest that are, in theory, already in place. When you write a piece, you have to declare when you get a grant, but it has to be far more visible. And in fact, some people need to be recused.
In addition, I think there’s a different kind of corruption in people who have been bureaucrats for 35 or 40 years, the way you succeed and keep that kind of position inside the government is not because you’re apolitical, it’s not because you’re unbiased, it’s because you are very skilful at navigating a highly politicised environment. This is obvious. You’re there, running agencies or large divisions of agencies, really as a bureaucrat in a quasi-political position. You’re very . . . you have friends in the media, you have friends in other agencies, and you have friends in Pharma, so that when you’re directing the clinical trials of the Moderna vaccine, or the Pfizer vaccine, you have a very tight relationship with them, whether it translates into money or not.
Money’s not the only thing that corrupts people. Lots of things do, including ego, including power. You know, we all know ‘power corrupts’. And so we need a better integration of people who don’t have conflicts of interest. We need, perhaps, even term limits on people in these agencies, not just elected officials. We can’t have people running massive, powerful funding agencies and controlling, therefore, all of research for 35, 40 years.
We see what happens here. One of the biggest failures of the NIH and the FDA here during this pandemic was a complete failure to rapidly do the clinical trials on drugs that were already FDA-approved in the spring of 2020. We should have had the answers right away on several drugs that were readily available that have a mechanism of action that suggests that they should work. And there’s plenty of clinical evidence that came out later that suggests that they would work, yet those trials were not done.
Now, we’re two years in, we still have not done these trials. In fact, these trials, one of the trials is going on now, and they say that the results will be known in 2023. We’re talking three years after the pandemic. We need accountability of the people who got what they wanted. They implemented the policies they wanted. Those policies failed. We have 900,000-plus Americans who have died from COVID, according to the categorisation, millions of families destroyed, yet the same people are in charge. I don’t understand how that could possibly happen, but it is. We need accountability on the people in Pharma who didn’t show fully the data, okay? We don’t have the full set of data. We don’t have the full set of data from the CDC on complications from the vaccines. Why not?
I mean, we’ve had, you know, 95 per cent-plus of people in the high-risk category have had the vaccine in the United States, we’ve had, you know, I don’t know, hundreds of millions of doses of these vaccines, we don’t have a full set of data on the complications yet. Why? What kind of a . . . what kind of a scientific process is that? So there’s a confluence of interests, frankly. It’s not one motivation, in my view. There’s a confluence of interests that are different. There’s financial interests in Pharma and people who benefit from that – advisory positions in these companies; power, hubris, incompetence and perhaps even covering up egregious errors.
If you were a person in a hypothetical scenario who was responsible for funding the research that ultimately may have led to the virus itself, let’s just say you were a hypothetical person in the NIH who signed off on those grants in China and partially funded that research, I would envision that you might have an interest in making the public think you are the most concerned person in the world about safety, and you would never do something risky like that. And so that’s a conflict of interest I’m pointing out, because we know that there was research on coronaviruses and it’s very controversial. But the NIH funded some of the research on coronaviruses that is indirectly, if not directly, related to this. So I think we don’t know the full set of information on that, but what I’m suggesting here is there are many different motivations for people in very powerful positions.
And now that we’ve proven, it’s been proven, that the wrong strategy was used, that lockdowns did not succeed in stopping or reducing deaths, they did not stop the spread of the infection, they destroyed millions of people in the lockdowns and literally killed people by virtue of lost medical care and the massive economic downturn, proven to have killed people, particularly working-class and low-income families, when we see that proof has come in, you know, it’s very difficult to proceed without having the accountability and the public airing, to the public, to know that those strategies were wrong. It has to be admitted and there has to be accountability, or we can never restore trust in these agencies and these . . . and even science itself, until we get to that truth.
ANNOUNCEMENT: The NIH did not immediately respond to a request for comment about why it didn’t conduct more clinical trials of drugs that showed potential to be repurposed for COVID-19.
JJ: Well, and so this is what I was going to say, you know, the proof has come in, it would be good if you could kind of a little bit elaborate on that. But . . . but I don’t think that’s generally known, frankly?
SA: Well, this is another problem because there’s two parts of the censorship of science that’s been going on. One part is by science itself. The university climate of intimidation of people who don’t agree with what the accepted narrative might be. The journals writing opinion pieces that really are character slurs on people. The refusal to publish studies. The funding streams. This is a censorship by science and university communities.
And then there’s another censorship, which is the media, and I’m including social media here, because that is the town square these days. And the media is so critical, I don’t think it has to be said, but the media is the interface between science and the public. And so when the media has the power to filter or even kick people off of social media and deem things as misinformation when they’re not, they are very harmful to the public good and to the public discussion. So the censorship by the media has been extraordinarily harmful and we need to get rid of that.
So, you know, the lockdowns have objectively been failures. Now, why do I know this? Well, if you look at . . . I’ll cite a few studies. Bjørnskov, in spring 2021, analysed 24 countries and showed the lockdowns did not reduce deaths compared to no lockdowns, okay? Stanford study January 2021 by Bendavid and colleagues showed that severe lockdowns did not reduce the spread of the infection. National Bureau of Economic Research, USC Rand Institute, in June 2021, Agrawal analysed 43 countries and the United States, the States, and he showed that lockdowns increased the excess deaths. When the lockdowns were implemented, the deaths actually started to go up after they were coming down. And that’s true in the United States as well.
So when you’re talking about how many people died over a non-pandemic year, the excess deaths increased from the lockdowns. The lockdowns killed people. And then the last study that was published that received attention was in January of 2022 out of a group from Johns Hopkins. And that study concluded that the lockdowns did not significantly reduce deaths and they were extraordinarily harmful. And they reiterated in their conclusion, frankly, nothing that was news – if anyone paid attention to the pandemic literature before this pandemic – and that conclusion was that lockdowns should not be used in a pandemic, because they don’t work and they are extraordinarily destructive. And that was known in the several years before the SARS-2 pandemic.