On February 26, 2020, medical journal Lancet retracted an article by two researchers — Yan Zhen and Yingchun Zen — that was originally calling for international assistance in fighting off the COVID-19 outbreak that has rocked the world in the past few months.
The original article was published on February 24, 2020.
This piece was initially shared on Twitter by angel investor and entrepreneur Balaji S. Srinivasan on February 26, 2020.
He tweeted, “I’ve never seen an article like this in the Lancet. It’s not a study, it’s a cry for help. Chinese medical workers seem to be using academic journals as way to route around censorship and get a message out to the world.”
Srinivasan highlighted several calls for help that stood out in this correspondence.
The authors asserted that the conditions in Wuhan are much worse than expected:
The conditions and environment here in Wuhan are more difficult and extreme than we could ever have imagined.
They then called for international help:
We are asking nurses and medical staff from countries around the world to come to China now, to help us in this battle.
However, the journal would then retract the article on February 26, 2020.
It announced its decision in a statement:
On Feb 26, 2020, we were informed by the authors of this Correspondence1 that the account described therein was not a first-hand account, as the authors had claimed, and that they wished to withdraw the piece. We have therefore taken the decision to retract this Correspondence.
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