By March, 2020, thanks to the grim reports emanating out of China, the hysteria surrounding Covid-19 was already replicating faster than the virus itself. Dr. Anthony Fauci, on the basis of what turned out to be flawed models, was predicting millions of American deaths. Then-Governor Andrew Cuomo, told that New York’s hospitals would soon be overrun with critically ill patients, was demanding that Donald Trump overnight him tens of thousands of respirators.
Alex Berenson, however, took a deep breath and decided to see for himself what the epidemic models, hospital records, and scientific papers were really saying about the novel coronavirus. Within a few weeks the former science writer for the New York Times could see two crucial facts emerging from the data itself.
The first was, contrary to what we had been told by Communist China, Covid was far less threatening than it had originally seemed. Yes, it could be deadly, especially to the elderly and people with severe comorbidities such as kidney disease. But it was not the second coming of the Black Death. It wasn’t going to kill 5 percent of those it infected. It would not overwhelm the medical system, much less all of society. And he was right. Cuomo would soon be shipping respirators to other states.
His second discovery was that brutal lockdowns — the idea for which had likewise come from Communist China — were useless in stopping a highly contagious, airborne, respiratory virus. Locking families up in their homes — and out of the fresh air — was, if anything, counterproductive. The lockdowns, he concluded, were doing far more damage to the country than Covid itself. They were destroying livelihoods and eroding constitutional rights — all on account of an illness that the vast majority of us would handily survive.
If American public health officials were wrong about the fundamentals, Berenson asked himself, what else might they be getting wrong? He began trying to inject some sanity into the debate over public health policy, and quickly wound up tweeting a couple dozen times a day.
He tweeted that all the sound and fury surrounding ventilators was misplaced. The ventilator shortage was “mythical,” he wrote. And, citing the Journal of the American Medical Association, he said they weren’t “lifesavers, but had also likely killed some patients.”
He tweeted that Fauci and other public health officials had been all over the map on masking, first saying that it didn’t stop the spread of disease, then saying that it did, then insisting that everyone above the age of two strap one on. He showed that the scientific justification for masking was nonexistent. Not only were studies of masks few and far between, but those that had been done suggested they were no better at stopping viruses than a chain link fence was at stopping mosquitos.
It wasn’t long before Berenson’s accurate but irreverent tweets were generating pushback from his former colleagues at the Times, his friends, and even his own family. The epithets began to fly. He was variously called a Covid denier, a conspiracy theorist, a grifter, a liar — and other things that are not fit to print. His father was upset with him for appearing on Tucker Carlson’s show. His wife, who as a medical professional was herself under pressure to conform to the twists and turns of the Covid narrative, suggested that he get a real job.
Berenson decided to self-publish a pamphlet on Amazon. This way he could do a deeper dive into the science than was possible on social media, as well as keep mama happy by hopefully making a contribution to the family larder. The censors at Amazon had other ideas, however. His Unreported Truths about Covid-19 and Lockdowns was instantly rejected.
That would have been the end of Berenson’s self-publishing venture if he didn’t happen to have a follower named Elon Musk. “This is insane @JeffBezos,” America’s leading entrepreneur tweeted out. “Time to break up Amazon. Monopolies are wrong!”
Bezos blinked. Amazon reversed itself within the hour, acknowledging that the censorship had been a mistake. Unreported Truths and three follow-on pamphlets were published and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. In them, he questioned the school closures, the lockdowns, and the masking. Score one for the truth teller.
Then came the vaccines.
Now Berenson is not an anti-vaxxer; he believes that vaccines in general have been a great boon to mankind. Like tens of millions of Americans, he has his school-aged children receive all their immunizations. Nor does he deny that Covid can kill, repeatedly pointing out that it can be deadly to the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. It would be great, he thinks, if we could safely offer everyone salvation in a syringe, one-shot protection that would last for years, if not for a lifetime.
But as the results of the mass Covid vaccination campaigns of 2021 began to come in last summer, it seemed, at least to Berenson, that we were falling short. The first studies came in from Israel, which had vaccinated its population early. Out of Tel Aviv we learned that the vaccines did not offer perfect protection, as hoped. In fact, they were only fractionally as good as natural immunity in preventing future infections, although they did reduce their severity somewhat. Then we learned that what protection the vaccines did offer didn’t last for years as hoped, but waned after a few months. The Israelis were soon having to line up for a third booster shot, and there was talk of a fourth. Then there were the troubling reports of myocarditis—heart inflammation — in children. Not many cases, in total, but enough so that Taiwan and several Nordic countries have put the brakes on vaccinating children and adolescents.
Berenson, following the science as always, faithfully passed this disquieting news on to his hundreds of thousands of followers. Social media exploded. Fauci, who had once promised the vaccine would end Covid once and for all, attacked his views. President Biden’s spokesperson, Jen Psaki piled on. The Atlantic published an article called “The Wrongest Man in America.” And Twitter, without warning, suspended his account for supposedly putting out “misinformation about Covid.”
This time Elon Musk couldn’t save him.
Alex Berenson is not the first truth-teller to be kicked off of social media for questioning the orthodoxies of the Covid age, but he may be among the first to sue Twitter. Everyone who is concerned about free speech should hope he wins.
But despite the rampant censorship on social media, it is still possible to publish a book in this country. And that is what he has done with Pandemia, subtitled How Coronavirus Hysteria Took Over Our Government, Rights and Lives.
Berenson is relentless in his criticism of Big Pharma’s reckless pursuit of profits, and incensed that cynical politicians put their own interests ahead of the public’s. But where I found him particularly insightful is in explaining the pandemic of fear that still has many Americans in their grip. As he writes, “Most Americans think that Covid is far more deadly than it actually is.” And the reason is that the media, in all its iterations—online, print, broadcast—not only failed to tell the truth about Covid, but has actively promoted fear.
Why were those who controlled Information (with a capital “I”) all in for the pandemic?
Why wouldn’t they be? Counters Berenson. The pandemic gave the world’s largest companies—Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and especially, Amazon—an unbeatable advantage. As he writes, it created a “world in which people had to rely on the internet to connect socially, for work, and to shop.”
Lockdowns, school closures, social distancing and all the other things that kept people apart in the age of Covid was a great boon for these companies, since people could only connect through streams of electrons that—mostly — flowed through the platforms of these same companies.
The lockdowns sent new customers flooding to their websites, their traffic increased, and their stocks soared. Why would they ever voluntarily give up the near monopolies that the pandemic had awarded them? Why would they ever want the lockdowns to end?
Berenson was never propagating “misinformation about Covid,” as Twitter and others claimed. But he certainly was threatening their bottom line.
We are reaching the end of the worst public health disaster in American history. I am not talking about the coronavirus itself, which — thanks to China — we will be living with forever. I am talking about the hysterical, suffocating, overbearing, dictatorial and, yes, deadly response to it by those we once trusted.
The courts will overturn the mandates, those at high risk will get the vaccine, therapeutic drugs will be approved, and, best of all, more and more of us will have robust natural immunity that lasts a lifetime.
“We should be done with Covid,” Berenson writes in his conclusion to Pandemia. “I don’t mean that we should have no cases or deaths. Zero Covid was always a fantasy. We have never come close to eliminating influenza, the most obvious comparison for Sars-Cov-2. Why would we think we could eradicate a respiratory virus that can survive in animals, is highly contagious, and can infect people anywhere in the world.”
Done with Covid. My family and I are certainly ready to be done. How about yours?
Note: this article first appeared on Steven Mosher’s blog onLifeSite December 1, 2021.