How Coronavirus Hysteria Took Over Our Government, Rights, and Lives (by Alex Berenson) (2021)

This splendid book is both a comprehensive review of how the world got everything wrong about Covid-19 (or, if you have a conspiratorial bent, how the plague was weaponized by authoritarian forces to cow and terrify us into submission), and a story of how one man kept yelling from the back of the truck that this emperor had a spiked crown but no clothes. Or in his words, “how media hysteria, political partisanship, overreliance on unproven technology, and scientific illiteracy brought the United States and the world to the brink of breakdown.”

The author is a former staff writer for the New York Times, a fact that we think, somehow, the Times wants to forget, who became (by his own admission) obsessed by the virus and the noise circling its spiky little wreath.  As will become clear, the monopolies that control our information have no time for him – here’s an extract of his Wikipedia entry: “During the coronavirus pandemic, Berenson appeared frequently in American right-wing media, spreading false claims about COVID-19 and its vaccines. He spent much of the pandemic arguing that its seriousness was overblown; once COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out, he made false claims about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”

As will also become clear, his false claims tended to be outrageously true.


We will summarize the various points he makes, but our earnest and urgent exhortation is: read this book.

Of the virus itself, Berenson points out that:

  • The protein spikes of the virus made it easier to attach to human cells and therefore replicate via its host;
  • Respiratory illness is notoriously, historically, hard (i.e. impossible) to control or contain;
  • It did not disrupt the food chain or overrun hospitals, despite reporting to the contrary;
  • It killed fewer American children than drowning, cancer, abuse or a dozen other conditions (yet schools and colleges were locked down more than anything, and a generation of ‘snitches’ was born);
  • 80x as many Italians died from flu in 2014/15 & 2016/17 than of Covid-19;
  • Jane Fonda described Covid as “God’s gift to the left” (which proved prescient, as it removed Donald Trump from office);
  • It killed slightly more people than diarrhea or Alzheimer’s disease in 2020, and was less threatening than stated; and
  • It generally threatened only those who were very old, fat, sick, or all three.

Of the reportage, the author notes:

  • The statements by compromised experts as to the origin of the virus were accepted without question (and evidence that Dr Fauci and others had funded Wuhan gain-of-function research was stifled);
  • The NY Times called the murder of a 27 year old Iowa man (Jordan Haynes) a Covid death;
  • CNN deprecated Americans for panic buying of masks yet praised China for doing so;
  • Any policy initiatives or suggestions by the Trump administration, some actually sensible, were derided;
  • Pres. Trump’s much-mocked prediction that the Covid death rate would turn out to be under 1 percent was correct;
  • The much-hyped ‘Long Covid’ was about as credible as chronic fatigue syndrome;
  • “[H]ospitalizations were a far better real-time indicator than deaths“;
  • Covid deaths were never put “in the context of overall mortality“;
  • Vaccine hesitancy was mocked and condemned, and the unvaccinated blamed, pilloried, dismissed from work, declined treatment and shunned by polite society;
  • U.S. States that eased lockdowns were savaged with dire (and false) predictions of mass quietus; and
  • Virtually all the doom-saying in the mainstream media was wrong on every aspect of the plague, and wrong by a long chalk.

On the response by the various authorities:

  • WHO tweeted on 14/1/20 that the Chinese had found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission;
  • In January, China bought-up billions of masks and other protective equipment, causing world-wide shortages;
  • A 2006 study of flu pandemics demonstrated that quarantines, travel bans and school closings of more than 2 weeks were likely counterproductive;
  • Lockdowns turned out to be “useless, if not counterproductive” (e.g. by increasing indoor and at-home transmission);
  • Modelling for virus containment was an aid, not a substitute for decision-making;
  • CDC gave evidence (27/2/20) that masks were useless (and cloth masks may even be counterproductive), yet soon enough the world had mask mandates foisted on it (“Even now no one has explained convincingly why public health authorities changed their views in a matter of days, and in lockstep“;
  • WHO’s initial advice was to ‘flatten the curve‘ to retain capacity in hospital systems, that transmogrified into suppression;
  • Imperial College of London (led by Neil Ferguson), had a long track record of vast over-estimating of death, but recommended suppression as policy;
  • It was decided to use ‘hard-hitting emotional messaging‘ and ‘social disapproval‘ to ward off complacency;
  • NYC Governor Cuomo gave daily press conferences on the virus for over 100 straight days, while moving old folks from hospitals to nursing homes to die in the thousands;
  • Old people were not protected whilst the young were locked-down;
  • Panic in March and April 2020 led to global shut-downs: “Businesses and schools shut. Elective surgeries were canceled. Our diversions vanished. No professional sports. No restaurants or movies or haircuts.”
  • Their explicit goal was to keep everyone home by giving them nowhere to go. Exceptions included grocery stores, gas stations, and, of course, Target and Walmart, which wound up with a huge advantage over smaller retailers that had to close.”
  • Covid deaths were weighted as against normal morbidity (and duly reported) but ignored were greatly increased deaths from suicide and drug overdoses;
  • Millions were spent on (non-targeted) tests and contact tracing – “the respiratory equivalent of trying to track chlamydia at an orgy“;
  • US Government borrowing ballooned to almost $27 trillion by September 2020;
  • They lied that vaccines would eliminate infection and transmission and tried to impose vaccine mandates (‘civil conscription’);
  • Herd immunity and natural selection (the lessening severity of the virus over time) were almost never discussed and by inference, not considered; and
  • Generally our masters demonstrated wild and erratic inconsistency, spread deliberate lies to manipulate societal response/compliance, and grabbed evermore power in the name of health and safety. (Berenson: “why did I have to wear a mask when I was walking into a restaurant, but not after I sat down? Why were coffee shops closed but malls open?“[
[To paraphrase Thomas Mann at Princeton University in 1941, “If ever fascism should come to America, it will come in the form of a public health edict.”]

Big Tech & Big Pharma:

  • Blocked videos, books, articles and groups that questioned the value of lockdowns;
  • Made a fortune from the plague, along with smaller internet-based companies like Pinterest and Zoom;
  • Suppressed information re cheap and available therapeutics, and the origins of Covid-19;
  • Care of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, recipient of a $279m grant from the Gates Foundation, predicted hospitalizations from Covid in NYC at 4 x above the reality (in the same week);
  • Ran “aggressive advertising campaigns to normalize social distancing and quarantines“;
  • Released dubious test results showing 90+% efficacy for their vaccines, hardly using the elderly in trials, pressuring regulators to approve them at ‘warp speed,’ and suppressing evidence of side effects such as blot clots and myocarditis;
  • Rejected Berenson’s booklet re lockdowns for Kindle Direct (Amazon);
  • Removed talks (You Tube) by senior White House medical advisors;
  • Erased anti-lockdown protests (Facebook); and
  • When the vaccines turned out to be mere health supplements, not vaccines (losing utility in “a matter of months“), introduced ‘booster shots’ and convinced authorities to force them into unwilling arms.

Put your head over the crenellated parapet of Covid and you’re going to take hits.  The NY Times, Berenson’s former paper, disowned him; some family and many friends & colleagues shied away; he was subject to death threats and vitriol on social media (including Twitter, natch, from which he was ejected); the legacy media vilified him for giving interviews to the fascist media (i.e. Fox), the only TV station to show interest; and he became catnip for hit-pieces such as in The Atlantic, which called him, in an 1 April 2021 article, “The Pandemic’s Wrongest [sic] Man” (their cover photo below).

A graphic of Alex Berenson standing with an X of red dots over him.

Berenson concludes with a cris de cœur for truth, free debate, and calm. He cites Donald Henderson, a man who helped to eradicate smallpox, one of the few viruses we have seen off:

Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.”  We add an earlier cited quote from the book, by a famous disrupter: “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

And The Varnished Culture will add that life henceforth must be better than that summed-up by Albert Camus in The Plague: “Thus, in a middle course between these heights and depths, they drifted through life rather than lived, the prey of aimless days and sterile memories, like wandering shadows that could have acquired substance only by consenting to root themselves in the solid earth of their distress.”


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