Anti-vaccine activist Alex Berenson, who frequently targets Israel in his efforts to sow doubt regarding the effectiveness and safety of coronavirus vaccines, has been banned from Twitter.
Berenson’s account was “permanently suspended for repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation rules,” a spokesperson for the social media platform said in a statement.
On his Substack newsletter, in a post headlined “Goodbye Twitter,” Berenson attributed his account’s erasure to a tweet asserting that the COVID-19 vaccine “doesn’t stop infection. Or transmission. Don’t think of it as a vaccine. Think of it - at best - as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS. And we want to mandate it? Insanity.”
That tweet, asserted Berenson, was “entirely accurate.”
Berenson, 48, who worked as a New York Times reporter from 1999-2010 has been called "the pandemic's wrongest man" by The Atlantic, and widely criticized for exaggerating the dangers of COVID vaccines, and dismissing their ability to diminish the severity of the effects of the virus. He has also criticized the effectiveness of mask-wearing and lockdowns, saying they haven’t been shown to control the spread of the virus.
He praised vaccine hesitancy in a July speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, saying that the US government had been “hoping that they could sort of sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated, and it isn’t happening.”
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On August 9, Berenson charged that the Israeli government, after having “aggressively pushed” booster shots to older citizens, had found that “the inevitable is happening. The third shot is beginning to fail.”
He continued: “The desperate move for a third shot is the latest and maybe most desperate manifestation of the panic around the vaccine failure that health authorities still will not openly admit is happening.”
Israel's Health Ministry has found that a third dose of Pfizer 's COVID-19 vaccine significantly improves protection from infection and serious illness among compared to those who received two shots. The US Centers for Disease Control has declared that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective after having been evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials.
Berenson has attacked Israel’s embrace of vaccination since the country began inoculating its citizens earlier in the pandemic. During the first few months of Israel’s vaccine rollout, Berenson claimed on Twitter that the country’s large-scale vaccination campaign did not seem to be having an effect on infection and serious illness. Then, as coronavirus infection rates began to dramatically drop as the percentage of vaccinated Israelis grew, Berenson changed his focus from efficacy to safety.
In a conspiratorial vein, Berenson has suggested, both on Twitter and on Fox News – where he has made frequent appearances – that illness and death resulting from coronavirus vaccination was being covered up by Israeli authorities.
On “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Berenson said he believed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “is very afraid that there will be cases of people getting vaccinated and getting sick or dying, as has happened in Israel. We know that’s happened in Israel.”
Prof. Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, has said that Berenson’s claims regarding Israel are baseless, with evidence regarding the effectiveness of vaccines “overwhelming.”
After a battle with Amazon last year following their refusal to sell his booklets touting “Unreported Truths on COVID-19 and Lockdowns” Berenson accused media giants of attempting to curtail free speech and stifling scientific debate. He wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “we are sliding into a new age of censorship and suppression, encouraged by technology giants and traditional media companies. As someone who’s been falsely characterized as a coronavirus ‘denier,’" I have seen this crisis firsthand."