- A 2020 research paper aimed at discrediting the “lab leak” theory of COVID-19 origins, is now facing growing calls for retraction following the disclosure of recently revealed messages showing that the main researchers felt pressured to write the paper although they believed in the theory’s plausibility.
- In March 2020, Nature Medicine published the “Proximal Origins” paper commissioned by Dr. Fauci, which claimed that COVID-19 originated from human contact with a bat. Dr. Kristian Andersen, one of the authors, expressed his intention to “disprove” any lab-related theories. Now there is a petition by Biosafety Now gaining almost 1,500 signatures, including scientists, advocating for its retraction.
- “We are seeking to expose a clear case of scientific fraud and misconduct that has had a major impact on public opinion and policy,” co-founder of Biosafety Now and Professor of Genetics at Rutgers University Bryce Nickels told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The removal of ‘Proximal Origins’ from the scientific literature is the first step in a long process to repair the damage this paper has caused to public trust in science.”
A 2020 research paper intended to throw cold water on the “lab leak” theory of COVID-19 origins is facing mounting demands for retraction after newly unveiled messages revealed primary researchers felt compelled to write it despite their belief in the likelihood of the theory.
Nature Medicine published the Anthony Fauci-commissioned “Proximal Origins” paper in March 2020 asserting that COVID-19 originated from human contact with a bat, and one of its authors, Dr. Kristian Andersen, stated he was “focused on trying to disprove any type of lab theory.” The paper has recently come under scrutiny, with a petition by Biosafety Now garnering nearly 1,500 signatories, including scientists, pushing for its retraction; prominent data journalist Nate Silver and University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke Jr. have also voiced their support for retraction.
Biosafety Now started the petition on July 19 and it is titled, “Retract ‘The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2’ (a fraudulent paper on the origin of COVID-19).”
“We are seeking to expose a clear case of scientific fraud and misconduct that has had a major impact on public opinion and policy,” Biosafety Now co-founder and Rutgers University genetics professor Bryce Nickels told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The removal of ‘Proximal Origins’ from the scientific literature is the first step in a long process to repair the damage this paper has caused to public trust in science.”
The petition has 1,458 signatories as of Tuesday afternoon and one is Alex Washburne, a mathematical biologist.
“I’m a scientist studying wildlife virology and the authors make a series of completely unsupported claims, straw men arguments of a lab origin, and a conclusion not justified by their analysis,” Washburne commented as his reason for signing the petition. “Furthermore, revelations the authors didn’t even believe their own work suggest we should clear this paper from the record so it doesn’t mislead people further.”
Moreover, Silver called on Nature to retract the paper, asserting its reputation is at stake.
“I’m not a big petition guy but if Nature isn’t ready to retract this paper on their own that’s a big L for their credibility and about as clear a sign as you can get that they’re elevating politics above science,” Silver tweeted. “This paper was not the result of any sort of scientific process.”
Pielke published a paper on Monday titled, “Why Proximal Origins Must be Retracted,” writing, “The case for retracting Proximal Origins is overwhelming because we now know, undeniably, that it was seriously flawed and misleading.”
Then-director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Dr. Anthony Fauci commissioned scientists to publish the “Proximal Origins” paper in February 2020 and reportedly “prompted” researchers including Andersen to write it to “disprove” the lab leak theory, according to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Andersen suggested he believed in the theory when he wrote in a Slack message that “the lab escape version of this is so friggin’ likely to have happened because they were already doing this type of work and the molecular data is fully consistent with that scenario.”
Andersen automatically responded to the DCNF’s request for comment that he is unavailable until August.
Nature and NIAID did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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