Coronavirus Can Be Deadly for Young Adults, Too, Study Finds

Stanford University doctors and researchers are sounding the alarm about one of their colleagues, Dr. Scott W. Atlas, a newly influential member of the White House coronavirus task force.

Dozens of infectious, epidemiological and health policy experts published an open letter on Wednesday, saying they “have both a moral and an ethical responsibility to call attention to the falsehoods and misrepresentations of science recently fostered by” Dr. Atlas.

“Many of his opinions and statements run counter to established science and, by doing so, undermine public-health authorities and the credible science that guides effective public health policy,” they wrote.

Dr. Atlas, a radiologist and senior fellow at the university’s conservative Hoover Institution, has become a proponent of controversial ideas on how to combat the virus. He has gone against recommendations put forward by top government doctors and scientists like Anthony S. Fauci, Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, promoting instead ideas embraced by Mr. Trump that have not been proven scientifically.

Dr. Atlas has argued that the science supporting mask wearing is uncertain and that children cannot pass along the virus. He was part of the decision in early September to modify C.D.C. testing guidelines to exclude asymptomatic people — despite the fact that research shows that people with no symptoms can still carry a high virus load.

He also has supported purposefully creating “herd immunity,” a questionable strategy that would require mass exposure to the virus.

The letter refutes his assertions point by point.

Encouraging unchecked virus transmission to reach herd immunity would create “a significant increase in preventable cases, suffering and deaths, especially among vulnerable populations, such as older individuals and essential workers,” the faculty members wrote. The safest path to herd immunity, they said, “is through deployment of rigorously evaluated, effective vaccines that have been approved by regulatory agencies.”

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