The Lancet’s reputation continues to decline

The Lancet was founded in England in 1823 and was recently considered to be second only to The New England Journal of Medicine when it comes to the magazine’s impact in the medical field. Whether its reputation will survive its conduct relative to COVID remains questionable. In 2020, it led the charge to insist that it was a conspiracy theory to blame the Wuhan lab for COVID. Now, it’s emerged that The Lancet was complicit with China in suppressing early information showing that COVID could be spread by human-to-human transmission and was already moving beyond Wuhan.

In early June, Vanity Fair, of all publications, published a long story exploding the wet market theory that leftists (and, especially, Anthony Fauci) insisted was the COVID-origin story. Those people, like Tom Cotton and Donald Trump, were dismissed as delusional conspiracy theorists for suggesting that it was much more likely that the virus originated in the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology, an institution affiliated with the Chinese military, that was known to conduct gain-of-function research on bat viruses.

The leader in insisting on the wet market origin story was The Lancet. Thus, the cover-up protecting the Wuhan lab began on February 19, 2020, when The Lancet published a statement that 27 scientists signed, claiming that the Wuhan lab theory was a conspiracy theory. Significantly, the person who organized and signed the statement was Peter Daszak, the one who packaged the U.S. taxpayer funds that Fauci was sending to the Wuhan lab. (If you don’t want to read the whole Vanity Fair report, you can read my summary here.)

It’s now emerged that The Lancet had an even bigger role in covering up China’s (and Fauci’s) role in creating a virus that brought the world to a halt. (Michael Thau credibly argues that halting the world was a deliberate, planned strategy on China’s part.) Sir Jeremy Farrar, who directs the Wellcome Trust, a global charity that is decidedly not conservative in its leanings, has written a new book in which he accuses the journal of failing to publish important information in an expeditious fashion. Thus, The Lancet sat on data it had about COVID’s jump from zoonotic transmission (animal to human) to human-to-human transmission, as well as its spread outside of Wuhan, something that could have led to travel prohibitions on China much sooner.

From the Daily Mail:

Sir Jeremy, a member of the Government’s Sage committee, has disclosed how he was contacted in alarm by Thijs Kuiken, a Dutch professor and government adviser, over a scientific research paper that he was sent by The Lancet to review on January 16, 2020.

In a new book on the pandemic he has written with science journalist Anjana Ahuja, Sir Jeremy describes the paper’s contents as ‘one of the standout moments in the whole epidemic, the reddest in a constellation of red flags’.

For the research reported that a family from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen who had travelled to Wuhan to stay with relatives over New Year showed that the virus was ‘consistent with person-to-person transmission’.

The family had not been to Wuhan’s infamous seafood market, then being falsely blamed as the source of the outbreak, but two of them had visited a hospital.

Another member, who had not travelled to Wuhan, fell ill when the rest of the group returned home.

Prof Kuiken instantly realised this was crucial information amid an unfolding world health crisis – but his role as a confidential reviewer precluded him from sharing details. So he sent in his review the next day to The Lancet, expecting it to be published immediately.

He told Sir Jeremy that he contacted The Lancet ‘to say the information should be made public because it was the first scientific proof that the virus was spreading human to human. They either would not or could not do it.’

The Lancet also stonewalled Sir Jeremy. It was only when Sir Jeremy tipped off the World Health Organization that China admitted the diseases person-to-person transmission, although it lied about COVID’s scope within China.

The Lancet is a journal driven as much by politics as by science. Last month, says the Daily Mail, it emerged that the magazine “refused to publish an article critical of China's horrifying repression of Uighurs as it might cause problems for staff at its Beijing office.” And I certainly remember the deeply flawed studies The Lancet produced in 2004 and 2006 grossly overestimating the number of Iraqis who died in the first phase of the Iraq War.

At this point, it seems that people are taking their lives in their hands if they trust The Lancet without carefully verifying that its information isn’t corrupted by political bias.

IMAGE: A March 3, 1827, edition of The Lancet (1827), when the science may have been primitive but it wasn’t corrupt. Public domain in the Wellcome Collection.

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