‘Stunning Act of Scientific Censorship’: Journal Retracts Peer-Reviewed Study Critiquing COVID-19 Vaccine

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The journal Cureus on Monday retracted the first peer-reviewed paper to provide an extensive analysis of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine trial data and post-injection injuries. The authors of the paper also called for a global moratorium on the vaccines.

The journal Cureus on Monday retracted the first peer-reviewed paper to provide an extensive analysis of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine trial data and post-injection injuries. The authors of the paper also called for a global moratorium on the vaccines.

Dr. Peter McCullough, one of the paper’s authors, called the retraction “a stunning act of scientific censorship.” He told The Defender:

“The journal and its editors had the right to reject the paper at any time during the review process. Once published, it is a violation of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Guidelines to retract a paper without adequate justification.”

The paper, published last month, detailed the vaccines’ potential serious harms to humans, vaccine control and processing issues, the mechanisms behind adverse events, the immunological reasons for vaccine inefficacy and the mortality data from the registrational trials.

The authors concluded:

“Federal agency approval of the COVID-19 mRNA injectable products on a blanket-coverage population-wide basis had no support from an honest assessment of all relevant registrational data and commensurate consideration of risks versus benefits.”

They also called for the vaccines to be immediately removed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) childhood immunization schedule and for the boosters to be suspended.

The paper was read more than 350,000 times in the month after it was posted. An average Cureus paper has only approximately 2,700 views in an entire year.

McCullough said research integrity staffer Tim Kersjes at Springer Nature, which publishes Cureus, last week informed the authors that the journal was retracting the paper. Kersjes raised eight points of concern, which McCullough said the authors had previously addressed in an exhaustive peer-review process.

McCullough told The Defender:

“I am suspicious that Kersjes and Springer Nature were pressured by the powerful Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex of coordinated public health organizations, vaccine manufacturers, and regulatory agencies to censor our paper to keep critical vaccine safety information from getting to the medical community.

“We rejected the retraction, fully appealed and will report this unethical action to all relevant authorities as we move on to publish elsewhere.”

M. Nathaniel Mead, the paper’s lead author, told The Defender he had been concerned from day one that the journal would be pressured to retract the article.

“I knew as soon as I hit the Cureus ‘publish’ button on January 24, following the extensive review process and multiple re-submissions, that we were dealing with a ticking time bomb,” Mead said.

“By citing solid evidence and exposing how the industry-sponsored trials misled the public, our evidence-informed paper was an all-out indictment of the COVID-19 vaccine enterprise.”

‘Predatory retractions’ benefit Big Pharma

Dr. John Adler at Stanford University and Dr. Alexander Muacevic at the University of Munich founded Cureus in 2009 as a web-based peer-reviewed open-access general medical journal with low cost barriers to publication.

The academic publishing giant Springer Nature bought Cureus in December 2022.

Springer Nature is a publishing conglomerate founded in 2015 through a merger of Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillian, Macmillan Education and Springer Science+Business Media.

The publisher generated 1.8 billion euros in 2022, showing continuous year-over-year growth since 2020.

Springer Nature has an in-house Research Integrity Group dedicated to ensuring the company’s scientific content is “rigorously assessed.” When issues arise that require the input of “research integrity experts,” the Resolutions Team, headed by Kersjes, steps in.

Kersjes notified the authors on Feb. 16 that the journal editors planned to retract the article, noting the journal “was recently made aware of several concerns regarding the validity of the work.”

According to the email text, posted on Substack by Steve Kirsch, another of the paper’s co-authors, those concerns “in our view can’t be remedied with a correction.”

Kersjes told the authors they had the option to agree or disagree with the retraction, which would be noted on the website.

They disagreed. “We vigorously reject this opinionated, ex post facto, arbitrary, and capricious decision on the part of Kersjes and his Springer superiors,” they wrote.

The letter from Kersjes specified concerns with claims the authors made about all-cause mortality data, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) data, the number of deaths from vaccination versus lives saved, possible vaccine contamination, their assertion that the vaccines did not undergo proper safety and efficacy testing, the “incorrect” statement that spike proteins linger in the body and can cause adverse effects and that the vaccines are gene therapy products.

In their rebuttal, the authors responded to each criticism, explaining their argument and providing supporting citations. They noted the article’s eight reviewers and journal editors had found their responses satisfactory.

A few days after the initial publication, Adler, who is Cureus editor-in-chief, told the industry-friendly website Retraction Watch, “Our editorial response was extra vigilance during the peer review process with 8 different reviewers weighing in on publication or not, including a few with strong statistics knowledge. Therefore, a credible peer review process was followed and the chips fell where they may.”

Adler also said the journal would reevaluate if “fatal flaws” were identified. “The decision process Cureus made contrasts sharply with Elsevier’s seeming editorial decision to just censor the article using ad hominem concerns.”

However, a spokesperson for Cereus told The Defender today, “Following publication, concerns were raised regarding a number of claims made in the article and an investigation by Cureus and Springer Nature’s Research Integrity team identified several issues with the article which warranted a retraction.”

The spokesperson added, “It is preferable that such issues are caught during peer review but unfortunately that is not always the case. What is therefore important, is that, as happened in this case, when issues are raised post-publication, they are dealt with swiftly so that the integrity of the academic record is preserved.”

The authors contend in their rebuttal that most concerns “appear to be adapted, either directly or indirectly, from the numerous comments made by the well-known vaccine industry social media trolls, Jonathan Laxton and Matthew Dopler,” who commented frequently on the article on Cureus’ website.

Mead told The Defender he was also suspicious the editors and publisher had been pressured by industry:

“At least four of the retraction points appear to be position statements issued directly by the vaccine industry — a concerted attempt to declare, for example, that the mRNA vaccines are not gene therapy products, that these products are not contaminated with high levels of DNA, that they do not linger in the body and cause adverse effects, and finally, most incredibly, that the mRNA products underwent adequate safety and efficacy testing.”

Mead added, “Once a major counter-narrative paper gets published and its findings begin to garner lots of attention, the Bio-Pharma stakeholders exert immense pressure on the publisher to retract the paper.”

The retraction has implications that extend beyond the article, Mead said. These kinds of “predatory retractions” benefit the Bio-Pharmaceutical enterprise, he said, by concealing information about vaccine risks, undermining the credibility of the research and of the authors themselves.

“This is going to force scientists who are interested in the truth to seek out alternate publishing venues and strategies, perhaps even alternate peer-review systems,” he added.

Springer Nature did not respond to a request for comment.

Scientific publishing as a crossroads

In a recent op-ed published in JAMA, Stanford epidemiologist Dr. John P.A. Ioannidis argued that peer review and scientific publication are at a “crossroads” and called for research on the topic for an upcoming conference.

“Scientific publishing is a huge market with one of the highest profit margins among all business enterprises, and it supports a massive biomedical and broader science economy,” Ioannidis wrote. “Many stakeholders try to profit from or influence the scientific literature in ways that do not necessarily serve science or enhance its benefits to society.”

Ioannidis is best known for his seminal 2005 paper, “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False,” where he argued that scientists “may be prejudiced purely because of their belief in a scientific theory or commitment to their own findings.”

In that paper, he wrote, “Prestigious investigators may suppress via the peer review process the appearance and dissemination of findings that refute their findings, thus condemning their field to perpetuate false dogma.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Allysia Finley recently noted these dynamics have been particularly pronounced in research on COVID-19, where flawed research supporting the dominant narrative is often published because it reinforces the peer reviewers’ existing biases, while other scientists “struggle to publish against-the-grain research.”

Even preprint servers — which post scientific papers while they go through peer review and have no peer review process themselves — are being used to censor scholarly papers critical of the CDC and policy errors made by the Biden administration, according to Vinay Prasad, M.D., MPH.

Prasad found that 38% of his lab’s submissions to preprint servers were rejected or removed — even though those same articles eventually were published in journals and extensively downloaded.

The Lancet preprint server similarly removed Hulscher and others’ controversial systematic review of autopsy findings in post-COVID-19 vaccine deaths.

Some top publishers like Taylor & Francis, and top journals like Science Magazine, have published articles about COVID-19 origins, for example, that “violated their own ethical policies and flouted their own norms for peer review” — by obscuring the names of major contributors such as Wuhan collaborator and University of North Carolina virologist Ralph Baric, Ph.D., or greenlighting papers with “basically no peer-review.”

Yet even when those editorial decisions are exposed publicly, the publishers have taken no action, investigative journalist Paul D. Thacker reported.

Those examples, Thacker wrote, are part of “a long list of essays, studies, and analyses that began littering the scientific literature with dubious (at best) conclusions during the COVID pandemic.”

A familiar playbook?

There is also a long history of coordinated efforts to silence and discredit science and scientists who challenge prevailing narratives that benefit Big Pharma and Big Chemical.

For example, in 2013 a technical chemical journal run by Elsevier, another major global science publisher, retracted an article about a group of rats fed Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) corn and some of the company’s flagship herbicide, Roundup.

Lead author Gilles-Éric Seralini studied the effects of GM corn and herbicide over two years, rather than for the short-term — 90 trials studying just GMOs or the herbicide — that Monsanto had used to market the products as non-carcinogenic.

In response, Monsanto ran a series of covert suppression programs through which internal corporate documents later revealed the company “manipulated peer reviews, engaged in ghostwriting articles that whitewashed Roundup’s genotoxicity, suppressed an independent scientist’s genotoxicity analysis and fed pre-written stories for reporters to ‘independently’ publish. Monsanto even had the editor of the journal under a financial contract at the time the two-year study was retracted,” according to attorney Michael Baum.

The company also coordinated the letters-to-the-editor campaign, with scripted talking points.

Seralini was “tarred and feathered out of science town,” Baum wrote in the foreword to “The Monsanto Papers.”

However, through a legal loophole, thousands of pages of the company’s internal confidential documents were released, exposing the details of Monsanto’s actions.

Seralini’s paper was later republished.

Just a few years later, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer analyzed glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s weedkiller, and found it to be a probable human carcinogen.

Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, has paid out over $11 billion in settlements as of May 2022 for cancer claims, has had over two billion more in judgments against it since then, and is facing over 30,000 additional lawsuits.

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Sue Noel

The past 4 years have been filled with acts of scientific censorship. When the covid origins were being discussed at the outset, I sensed a rat (not a bat). It was follow the money sleuthing. The scientists who spoke out in defense of a zoonotic source were all either employed by or ran EcoHealth Alliance.