Medical outlet spinning Russian narratives reanimates coronavirus issue

Medical outlet spinning Russian narratives reanimates coronavirus issue

While the general attention of the international community is focused on the Russian war in Ukraine, various Trojan horses that previously worked in Russia’s interests continues to operate as usual.

Among them is Lancet, a pseudo-medical journal, which quite casually, in its regular report, hinted that COVID-19 could actually originate from a lab – even more so, an American one. The suggestion comes from the claim that it’s the United States that is allegedly hindering the disclosure of details into the research on viruses similar to COVID-19 as “independent” researchers are denied access to American labs that are engaged in SARS-CoV study.

In the midst of the pandemic, I wrote quite a lot about the Lancet journal, since it was this platform, no matter how strange it may sound, that relayed Russian narratives concerning the coronavirus. If anyone forgot, let me remind you…

It was in February 2021 when the “reputable” Lancet announced that Russia had allegedly completed the 3rd phase of testing for their Sputnik V vaccine, which the outlet claimed turned out to be really efficient in terms of performance. Funny enough, Lancet published the piece even ahead of the deadline that Russia itself set for the 3rd-phase test completion, which they ultimately failed to meet.

As the article was based on materials provided from Russian medical institutions, taking into account the situation in Russia in matters of censorship, freedom of speech, and strict control over any possible leaks on such a sensitive topic,  of this nature, such data should have earned no full trust on the part of the publishers but… Lancet fell for it anyway, apparently!

On the other hand, Lancet, being one of the oldest and most authoritative medical publications, regularly posts rather controversial and even absurd pieces.

For example, in 2003, the journal proposed a total ban on tobacco across the UK. The journal also published controversial estimates of conflict casualties in Iraq, significantly overshadowed by almost all studies run at that time. Then, in 2014, Lancet published a letter that the Gaza residents addressed to Israel, accusing the Israeli government of violence and racism. At the same time, the journal completely ignored Hamas’s terror attacks.

Later it turned out that this letter was penned by the followers of David Duke, an infamous American pro-KKK figure and conspiracy theorist, as well as a white supremacy freak. Some also suspect Duke of direct affiliation with Russian military intelligence.

Then some other peculiar developments unfolded: one of the largest scientific publishing houses, Elsevier, stroke a deal to publish Lancet. The thing is that there are certain issues regarding this influential publisher because it’s known to be too greedy for cash, of which it was often accused by scholars, libraries, and leading educational facilities worldwide. In 2012, the publishing house was even boycotted by thousands of eminent scientists around the world over the house’s unprincipled greed.

Moreover, Elsevier has been exposed for quietly posting promotional pieces, including to the benefit of Merck. The publishing house would publish journals advertising exclusively the products of this pharmaceutical company, offering only positive, even impeccable reviews.

In June 2020, the Ukrainian government canceled the subscription of higher education facilities to Elsevier products. This is due to the fact that the house published in the occupied Crimea’s Sevastopol the Physical Oceanography journal, which is issued by the so-called Marine Hydrophysics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

On September 4, 2020, the journal published an article about successful trials of the Russian vaccine (two of its types at once). An interesting part is that the “leading expert” who authored the article was deputy chief of the Gamaleya Center, Denis Logunov!

Then the piece led to a real scandal after a number of foreign researchers drew public attention to the surprising and unlikely coincidence of indicators in different experimental groups, gross errors in the published dates, and the speed with which the article appeared in the first place. After all, the journal published the piece literally three weeks after Russia announced the completion of tests – on August 10, which is simply unrealistic for research of this level.

In turn, when an international group of scientists turned to the Lancet editors with a request to provide more detailed information on the results of clinical trials of Sputnik V, the journal denied them this opportunity.

And now, out of thin air, the outlet reminisces of the past, this time spinning a claim that some American biological laboratories could be involved in the coronavirus spread. So, it’s not China now, which had been obvious to many since 2020, but the United States…

Well, I can’t but note that the ghost of Russian narratives regarding biolabs and COVID-19 is still roaming across platforms that are part of the Russian intelligence network, even when, it would seem, the Kremlin has other things to deal with rather than tackling coronavirus or promoting their Sputnik V. It turns out, this assumption is wrong. The issue is still relevant, even today.

Although, who knows, perhaps, in this case, it’s not even Russia but China which is financing Lancet, “buying its opinion.” After all, a reputable view is always valuable, right?

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