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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Scott Atlas, member of the White House's coronavirus task force. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

President Trump's favorite coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas apologized on Twitter for appearing Saturday on Russia’s state-controlled RT network, where he insisted that the U.S. is turning the corner on the pandemic and that lockdowns are actually “killing people.”

Why it matters: RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is a Russian state-owned media outlet registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. This means that all of its content is labeled as propaganda attempting to influence U.S. public opinion, policy and laws.

  • Atlas appeared on RT just hours after the Washington Post released an interview with Anthony Fauci, who criticized Atlas for his controversial views on the pandemic.
  • “I have real problems with that guy,” Fauci told the Post. “He’s a smart guy who’s talking about things that I believe he doesn’t have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t make any sense.”

The big picture: Atlas, a radiologist, has drawn criticism for reportedly promoting "herd immunity" as a COVID-19 strategy and for casting doubt on the effectiveness of masks, which studies show can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

  • “The public health leadership … they’re killing people with their fear-inducing shutdown policies,” Atlas said on RT.
  • He also described lockdowns as an “epic failure of public policy by people who refuse to accept they were wrong.”

Driving the news: "I recently did an interview with RT and was unaware they are a registered foreign agent," Atlas tweeted. "I regret doing the interview and apologize for allowing myself to be taken advantage of. I especially apologize to the national security community who is working hard to defend us."

Go deeper

Updated Feb 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: 1 in 3 Americans know someone who died from COVID-19 — Axios-Ipsos poll: Biden's window of opportunity on COVID — Nursing home COVID cases have drastically declinedU.S. death toll tops 500,000.
  2. Vaccine: Pfizer and Moderna expect to double vaccine shipments by spring — Fast-spreading misinformation on COVID vaccine and infertility worries health experts — Modified vaccines for variants would not require large clinical trials, FDA says.
  3. Economics: Small businesses say even second round of PPP loans not enoughU.S. growth expectations are going through the roof.
  4. Local: Denver breaks from Colorado's vaccine plan Twin Cities and some Midwest metros fare better economically than rest of U.S. — Federal vaccine distribution arriving in Tampa.
  5. World: Boris Johnson unveils roadmap to fully reopen England's economy by June.
Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.