VIRUS

Beginning in what she calls the “early days in the shit show,” the author limns a portrait of a perfect storm: a virus that, though in a family well known to science, defied identification and treatment and, as a vaccine was being developed, encountered fundamentalist Christians in the Trump administration such as Deborah Birx, who cut her teeth moralizing about the victims of AIDS instead of actually doing anything about it. Trump professed to know nothing about pandemics, though of course he claimed to know more than the doctors did, and it was a well-rehearsed bit of Trump lore that his grandfather died of the Spanish flu, “leaving a German-speaking widow with three kids to found a small building company in Queens, a death that forever altered the trajectory of the Trump clan.” Trump knew, Burleigh charges, that Covid-19 was much worse than the flu, but he snubbed the U.N., the World Health Organization, and any other group working to fight it: “Fuck the WHO and fuck your tests. We can do it better.” That hubris, of course, contributed to the deaths of more than 530,000 (and counting) Americans. Coupled with giveaways to Trump’s corporate cronies and an otherwise corrupt regime hostile to science and expertise, the entire ordeal has been a shit show of epic proportions. The book is a useful, page-turning, blow-by-blow account of events, though seemingly written and edited in a hurry: The author repeats verbatim the etiology that coronavirus originated in bats (though she does offer a section on the lab leak hypothesis), that pharmaceutical companies were given $22 billion to fix things, and that vaccine hesitancy has been one of many problems medicine has had to face.

VIRUS
Beginning in what she calls the “early days in the shit show,” the author limns a portrait of a perfect storm: a virus that, though in a family well known to science, defied identification and treatment and, as a vaccine was being developed, encountered fundamentalist Christians in the Trump administration such as Deborah Birx, who cut her teeth moralizing about the victims of AIDS instead of actually doing anything about it. Trump professed to know nothing about pandemics, though of course he claimed to know more than the doctors did, and it was a well-rehearsed bit of Trump lore that his grandfather died of the Spanish flu, “leaving a German-speaking widow with three kids to found a small building company in Queens, a death that forever altered the trajectory of the Trump clan.” Trump knew, Burleigh charges, that Covid-19 was much worse than the flu, but he snubbed the U.N., the World Health Organization, and any other group working to fight it: “Fuck the WHO and fuck your tests. We can do it better.” That hubris, of course, contributed to the deaths of more than 530,000 (and counting) Americans. Coupled with giveaways to Trump’s corporate cronies and an otherwise corrupt regime hostile to science and expertise, the entire ordeal has been a shit show of epic proportions. The book is a useful, page-turning, blow-by-blow account of events, though seemingly written and edited in a hurry: The author repeats verbatim the etiology that coronavirus originated in bats (though she does offer a section on the lab leak hypothesis), that pharmaceutical companies were given $22 billion to fix things, and that vaccine hesitancy has been one of many problems medicine has had to face.