Atlas calls for ending lockdowns 'in a safe way,' cites 'reasons for optimism' in coronavirus fight

'You don't eradicate the virus by locking down ... the virus is not eradicated by having people work from home'

Hoover Institution senior fellow Dr. Scott Atlas told "The Story" Monday that, in his opinion, the widespread availability of a coronavirus vaccine "is absolutely not a predicate for opening."

"Right now is not a time to panic," Atlas told host Martha MacCallum, "and there's a lot of stuff happening that I'm very optimistic about, including the vaccine."

Earlier Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted on "Special Report" that researchers would likely know the efficacy of a potential coronavirus vaccine produced by biotech company Moderna by "mid-to-late fall."

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Atlas, a former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center, told MacCallum that continued lockdowns would have "severe" ramifications and decried the ongoing "hysteria" over a recent coronavirus case surge in many U.S. states.

"We've got to keep in mind what we're trying to do here," he said. "You don't eradicate the virus by locking down. You minimize the damage here and remember that the harms of a lockdown are severe. The lockdown itself kills people, destroys families, prevents education of our children."

Atlas went on to say that people using the surges in various states as evidence that the country should be locked down need to "get a grip ... because we are becoming sort of hysterical here, but we know that's a lot of reasons for optimism.

"Patients are doing better, the younger people are getting most of the cases they're not gonna ... have a serious problem," he said. "We know the data looks pretty good on the vaccine and [it's] amazing how fast things are going."

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Atlas later responded to Google's decision to keep its employees home until at least next July, arguing "The virus is not eradicated by having people work from home."

"This is sort of, you know, a little elitist group of the population, frankly, and normal people need to be at work. They are not computer programming at home from their office sipping a latte," he said. "People have to be at their work, in tourism, in the service industry, in bars, grocery stores, and this is the policy here. Protect the high-risk, get rid of the lockdown in a safe way and make sure hospitals are not overcrowded."