The book’s subtitle is overly long, and so is the book. We learn over and over her view, which she seemed to have expressed almost daily at White House meetings, that the key to reining in the pandemic was social distancing, testing, masking, limiting the size of indoor gatherings, and—occasionally—lockdowns.

Unfortunately, given the book’s length, she doesn’t give strong evidence for her views. And at times she reveals herself to have a strange view of “proof.” Also, the evidence against the efficacy of masks—evidence that surfaced well before she finished her book—would cause one to hope that she would address this matter. (See “How Effective Are Cloth Face Masks?” Winter 2021–2022.) But she does not; her support for masking is as strong as it was in 2020.

There are other examples of sloppy thinking. Although Birx claims that she carefully looked at the COVID numbers virtually daily, she fails at times to make important distinctions such as the difference between the infection fatality rate and the case fatality rate. She doesn’t address the famous Great Barrington Declaration (GBD), which advocated focusing government attention on high‐​risk populations while leaving much of the rest of society to function unrestrained, though at one point in the book she seems to endorse that idea.

This is from David R. Henderson, “Book Review: Silent Invasion,” Regulation, Spring 2023. It’s my review of Deborah Birx’s long book.

I do give her credit on a few things:

After reading the book, I give Birx credit on three policy issues: First, she is fairly critical of how the Centers for Disease Control substantially slowed the development of COVID tests and gives the private sector kudos for how quickly it reacted. Second, she shows a real understanding of how the absence of property rights for tribal nations badly hurts the people who live there. Third, although she—like me—favors people receiving the COVID vaccines, she wisely points out that they are not a silver bullet for ending the pandemic.

And a very disturbing admission:

Early in her time at the White House, Birx became one of main champions of lockdowns. We were told in March 2020 that we should lock down for 15 days to “flatten the curve.” This meant slowing the rate of spread so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed. Some observers at the time thought that this 15‐​day lockdown was just an opening bid and that the government had a longer lockdown in mind. I, naively, didn’t think that. Birx reveals that I should have. In a chapter titled “Turning Fifteen into Thirty,” she writes, “No sooner had we convinced the Trump administration to implement our version of a two‐​week shutdown than I was trying to figure out how to extend it. Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread was a start, but I knew it would be just that. I didn’t have the numbers in front of me yet to make the case for extending it longer, but I had two weeks to get them.” That’s revealing in two ways. First, she planned for a much longer lockdown. Second, she knew what she wanted to find and she looked for data to make her case.

Read the whole thing.