Former adviser to President Donald Trump and COVID-19 disinformation spreader Dr. Scott Atlas spoke to a crowd of MSU students and Michigan residents at Wells Hall on Wednesday, March 23.
During his speech, Atlas told the crowd a number of falsehoods, including that the lockdowns from 2020 were responsible for more deaths than COVID-19 and said that vaccines against the disease were ineffective.
Atlas is a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is a radiologist and health care policy advisor but does not hold any specializations in public health or infectious diseases.
Despite all this, Atlas has been going on a speaking tour to college campuses across the country, telling people inaccurate information about COVID-19, including a stop on March 21 to crowd at The University of Texas at Austin.
Atlas’s speech was organized by Turning Point USA’s MSU chapter.
Criminal justice sophomore and MSU Turning Point President Caity Martin said Atlas was the right person to have at MSU because he has a high profile.
Martin, who is vaccinated, said that she would not have gotten the vaccine if she had the information she had now about vaccinations. This is why Martin said she did not get the booster shot, despite MSU mandating it.
Atlas’s presentation was titled “The SARS2 Pandemic: Will Truth Prevail?” Three speakers opened the event: Turning Point's senior field representative Chris Howse, a representative from the MIGOP Election Protection team and James Madison sophomore Joe Rajcevski.
Early in the speech, Atlas put up a slide of facts and then claimed that each one was false, such as COVID-19 being more fatal than influenza. However, that is not true — it is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, that 22,000 people in the U.S. died from the flu in 2020 and there are 385,484 people in the U.S. who died from COVID-19 in 2021.
In addition to the myriad of falsehoods, Atlas told the crowd that “any university president that requires vaccination of healthy, young students, should be fired.”
MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. required vaccinations for in-person classes in fall 2021 and spring 2022.
Martin refused to comment if she believes Stanley should be fired.
While arguing that schools must be reopened, Atlas said that schools, particularly elementary schools, are a low-risk environment for infection. Atlas said if he were to design a job to be safe from contracting COVID-19, he would want to be in an elementary school.
“So, when you hear a teacher say that they’re at high for COVID and they’re not going to teach in person, they are either liars or they are too stupid to teach our children,” Atlas said.
According to the CDC, children and adolescents are still at risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19. They are more commonly asymptomatic or have non-specific symptoms like a headache. This does not make schools a low-risk environment, because the asymptomatic children are still able to transmit COVID-19 to the adults around them, who can then get a more severe case.
Atlas also claimed that there is evidence that says getting COVID-19 and recovering gives you better protection against later infection than the vaccines.
“We’re the only country of our Western European neighbors that refuses to recognize biological immunity or protection after having had COVID,” Atlas said.
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Biological immunity, more commonly referred to as natural immunity, is the belief that getting COVID-19 once gives you immunity from receiving it again. Someone could gain some level of antibodies from COVID, but according to the CDC, it depends on the severity of the illness in a person.
COVID-19 vaccines, on the other hand, have been proven to be safe and reliable for protecting people from contracting the disease. In the case that someone who is vaccinated does contract COVID-19, they are less likely to be hospitalized or to die as a result.
The event was co-sponsored by the MSU College Republicans, the James Madison College Conservatives, the Convention of States, the Leadership Institute and Michigan for Vaccine Choice and James Madison College. Another co-sponsor of the event, LaRouche PAC, also tabled at the event and handed out literature.
LaRouche PAC is named after the perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, a conspiracy theorist and anti-Semite.
The website of the group states that “so challenged were the global elites by LaRouche’s ideas and his political organizing, that he was framed up and thrown in prison for five years (1989-1994), by the very same intelligence and judicial networks that have waged the coup against Donald Trump, a coup which denied him his duly-elected second term.”
LaRouche PAC has been described by The New York Times as a “cultlike political organization.”
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