Scott Atlas is this year’s leading lionheart in my view. He is an academic with zero political aspirations who entered the White House at significant personal cost. Regardless of which political side he appears to be on, the reason he entered the White House was “because the President of the United States asked me, a health care policy person who understands medical science, to help in the biggest health care crisis of the century. There’d be something wrong with you if you said no to that. My position is not political. My position is looking at the data, figuring out the right policy“.
Five other lionhearts who come to mind are Michael Levitt, John Ioannidis and Jay Battacharya from Stanford University, Martin Kulldorff from Harvard University and Sunetra Gupta from Oxford University. They have all spoken out objectively in favour of following established and evidence based public health practices. With the exception of Michael Levitt who is a computational biologist, they are all infectious disease epidemiologists. Martin Kulldorff has said that whilst “scientists” don’t seem to agree, that in fact infectious disease epidemiologists who are specialised in interpreting and understanding pandemics, do agree but that many of them are afraid to speak out. This is understandable given the risk of silencing, shunning, accusations and intimidations.
John Ioannidis speaks informatively at this two hour Plenary Session podcast, about his experiences as a medical doctor, infectious disease epidemiologist and evidence based health care researcher. He is a delightful genius but for daring to question mainstream narrative he has faced malicious opposition and intimidation, including his elderly mother living alone in Greece having been a target. He most recently had his paper on the infection fatality rate of Covid-19 published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, estimating a median infection fatality rate for Covid-19 (dependent on factors which he discusses) of between 0.09% to 0.23%. The paper discusses the differences being seen across populations and age structures and is a very worthwhile read.
It probably won’t happen until after the American election, but I feel hopeful that these lionhearts of 2020 are going to claw us out of this terrible and terrifying year. Atlas shines in this interview with Freddie Sayers.