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covid coup

What If There Had Been No Covid Coup?


In discussions about the military and national security coup during the Covid pandemic, people often ask me: would it really have been so different if the NIH and CDC had remained in charge of the pandemic response? What if the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Council had never taken over

Wouldn’t the public health agencies have done basically the same things?

It is absolutely essential that everyone understand the answers to these questions. They impact not just our awareness of what happened during Covid, but also our assessment of how to handle all viral outbreaks in the future.

In this article, I will describe how the response to the pandemic would have proceeded if normal public health guidelines had been followed, not just in the US but around the world, without interference from national security authorities or covert biowarfare experts

Public health guidelines

Before Covid, the guidelines for dealing with a new outbreak of a flu-like virus were clear:

  • avoid panic, 
  • search for cheap, widely available early treatments that may reduce the risk of serious illness,
  • plan to increase healthcare capacity if necessary, 
  • help local and state medical personnel to identify and treat cases if and when the virus causes serious illness, 
  • and keep society functioning as normally as possible. 

This was the approach used in all previous epidemics and pandemics. The guidelines are detailed in the planning documents of the WHO, HHS, and EU countries.

When the military and national security agencies took over the response, these guidelines were replaced by a biowarfare paradigm: Quarantine until vaccine. In other words, keep everyone locked down while rapidly developing medical countermeasures. This is a response intended to counter biowarfare and bioterrorism attacks. It is not a public health response and is, in fact, in direct conflict with the scientific and ethical underpinnings of established public health principles.

Had we adhered to the public health protocols that were initially followed in the early months of 2020, life in the United States and around the world would have looked like life in Sweden during the pandemic, with even less panic: no masks, no school closures, no lockdowns, very low excess deaths. 

No panic

The reasons not to panic were apparent in early 2020 from the data we had gathered from China: the virus was deadly mainly to elderly people with multiple serious health conditions, did not cause life-threatening illness in children or in most people under 65, and did not seem poised to cause more of an increase in hospitalizations or deaths than a very bad flu season. 

It can be difficult at this point – after years of unrelenting censorship and propaganda – to remember that, at the beginning of 2020, the new virus emerging in China was not front and center in most people’s minds. The US media was busy covering election campaigns and economic issues, and the general attitude was that what was happening in China would not happen elsewhere.

Here are some examples of what medical and public health experts were saying in January, February and early March 2020:

January 30, 2020, CNBC: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Obama’s White House health advisor declared that “Americans are too worried about the new coronavirus that’s spreading rapidly across China.” He added: “Everyone in America should take a very big breath, slow down and stop panicking and being hysterical.” And he explained: “I think we need to put it into context, the death rate is much lower than for SARS.”

February 27, 2020, CNN: The CNN website reported that CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield “has a simple message for Americans: No, you shouldn’t be afraid.” The website also quoted NIH Director Dr. Alex Azar saying that “most people who get coronavirus will have mild to moderate symptoms and will be able to stay home, treating it like the severe flu or cold.” And it reported that the CDC “does not recommend Americans wear surgical masks in public. Surgical masks are effective against respiratory infections but not airborne infections.”

February 28, 2020, New England Journal of Medicine: Drs. Anthony Fauci and Robert Redfield wrote that “the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%” and “the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%).” They cited Chinese data showing that “either children are less likely to become infected, or their symptoms were so mild that their infection escaped detection.”

March 4, 2020, Slate : Dr. Jeremy Samuel Faust, Harvard emergency physician reassured readers that all the evidence available at the time “suggests that COVID-19 is a relatively benign disease for most young people, and a potentially devastating one for the old and chronically ill, albeit not nearly as risky as reported.” He said the mortality rate was “zero in children 10 or younger among hundreds of cases in China” and that it was important to “divert our focus away from worrying about preventing systemic spread among healthy people—which is likely either inevitable, or out of our control.”

No censorship or propaganda

If we had continued down the road of a regular public health response, opinions like these from our national public health leaders would have continued to be published and discussed openly. There would have been open discussion of the virus’s potential harms, and expert debates about various response measures. There would have been no need to censor any particular opinion or disseminate propaganda supporting any other. 

If some experts thought we should shut down the entire country (or world), they would have debated this position with those experts who thought this was a gross and dangerous overreaction. The media would most likely have taken the side of the less draconian measures, because it would have been common knowledge that the virus was not lethal for most people, and that the case fatality rate (how many people died after getting sick) was, as Fauci and Redfield reported in February 2020, around 0.1 percent in the general population, and much lower for anyone under 65.

If anyone had published a model showing millions of potential deaths based on a 2 or 3 percent or higher estimated fatality rate, their assumptions would have been openly questioned and debated, and most likely easily debunked using available data and observed fatality rates from the real world.

Here are other important topics the media would have been able to report on (as they were doing without censorship before the middle of March), had there been no intentional suppression of traditional public health guidelines, and no panic-fomenting propaganda:


Scientific and medical data from China was never considered reliable before Covid, because in a totalitarian regime it is assumed that the data must always conform to the regime’s agenda. Without censorship or propaganda, this would have remained true for everything related to Covid. The videos of people falling dead in the streets, the draconian lockdowns of millions of people, and the obviously absurd claims that the lockdowns in one area of the country had eradicated the virus everywhere for years on end, would all be openly questioned and debunked in the media.

Testing and quarantines

Without censorship or propaganda, the media would be able to invite top epidemiologists to explain to the public that once an airborne virus is widely disseminated in a population, you cannot stop it from spreading. You can use tests to help guide treatment. You can also use tests to figure out who has been exposed to the virus and is likely to have acquired immunity so they can interact safely with vulnerable populations. It would be common knowledge that it is not necessary or useful to test the entire population repeatedly or to quarantine healthy people.

Early spread 

It would have been reassuring for people to know that the virus probably started spreading before December 2019. This would mean that more people had already been exposed without getting sick or dying, which would support the low fatality estimates. It would also mean that since the virus was already widely disseminated, containment (using testing and quarantines) was not a viable or desirable objective, as experts were already stating (see Dr. Faust above).


Without unnecessary testing, the definition of a “case” would have remained what it had always been before Covid: someone who seeks medical care because they have serious symptoms. Thus, the media would report only on clusters of actual cases, if and when they emerged in different locations. There would be no ticker tapes with running numbers of asymptomatic people who tested positive. Instead of millions of positive “cases” (i.e., positive PCR tests), we would hear about hundreds or thousands of people who were hospitalized with serious symptoms, as in all previous epidemics and pandemics. This would happen in different places at different times, as the virus spread geographically. The vast majority of the population would never be counted as cases.

Natural immunity and herd immunity

Virologists and epidemiologists would be featured in the news, explaining that if you have been exposed to a virus you develop natural immunity. So, for example, if there were nurses at a hospital who had been sick with Covid, they could go back to work and not worry about getting seriously ill or spreading the virus. The public would also learn that the more people developed natural immunity, the closer we would get to herd immunity, which would mean the virus would have nowhere else to spread. Nobody would consider either of those terms a reckless strategy or a sociopathic plot to let the virus “rip” and kill large swaths of the population.

Early treatment

Doctors in China had several months experience treating Covid before observable clusters of cases emerged in other countries. They had developed treatment protocols with available drugs that they could have shared with the international medical community. The media would have reported on the efforts of researchers and doctors all over the world to find available treatments that could lower the risk of patients’ hospitalization or death. 


Without the quarantine-until-vaccine agenda, investments in vaccine development in 2020 would have been modest, and might have led to some clinical trials, although by the time they got to Phase III trials (on large numbers of patients), most people would already have natural immunity. The media would have been able to report in January 2020, as Anthony Fauci did in January 2023, that “viruses that replicate in the human respiratory mucosa without infecting systemically, including influenza A, SARS-CoV-2, endemic coronaviruses, RSV, and many other ‘common cold’ viruses” have never been “effectively controlled by licensed or experimental vaccines.” 

With a focus on early treatments and keeping most people out of the hospital and in a normally functioning society, no one would have been holding their breath waiting for a “safe and effective” vaccine to emerge after only a few months’ trials. 


Nobody would have cared about – or even heard of – variants. The discussion would have centered around who was getting seriously ill and dying, and how they could be treated to lower the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. There would be no need to know whether someone was seriously ill with Alpha, Delta or Omicron XBB1.16, because the variant would have no impact on treatment. 

Long Covid

Every viral infection brings with it the potential for long-term symptoms, yet we’ve never talked about “long flu” or “long herpes.” There was no data back in 2020 suggesting that Covid was radically different and was more likely to result in troublesome symptoms once the initial infection was resolved. Thus, the topic probably would not even have come up. If it had, experts would have explained that feeling fatigued or depressed many months after a viral infection is probably not related, and that if you did not have a serious case of the illness you were very unlikely to have any serious long-term symptoms. 

Origins of the virus

If the biodefense experts had been honest with the public, they could have explained that the virus might have leaked from a lab, but that everything we knew about it – low fatality rate, steep fatality age gradient, no ill effects for children, etc. – was still true.

At this point, there could have been open and honest public debates about the most important topics relevant to the outbreak: What is gain-of-function research, why are we doing it, and should we continue?

There would have been no cover-ups or propaganda about the virus coming from an animal source. We would never know that pangolins or racoon dogs even existed.

Why this sounds like a fantasy

Once the biowarfare cartel took over the pandemic response, there was only one objective: scare everyone as much as possible to gain compliance with lockdowns and make everyone desperate for vaccines. Public health experts, including the leaders of the NIH, CDC, and NIAID, were no longer authorized to make their own pandemic policy decisions or public announcements. Everyone had to stick to the lockdown narrative.

The forces of panic and propaganda, in the service of enormous profits for pharmaceutical and media companies, once unleashed could not be contained.

It didn’t have to be that way. The more people understand this, the less likely they are to go along with such devastating madness in the future.

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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  • Debbie Lerman

    Debbie Lerman, 2023 Brownstone Fellow, has a degree in English from Harvard. She is a retired science writer and a practicing artist in Philadelphia, PA.

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