In a paper published in the venerable New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that garnered tons of attention and led to a huge uptick in anxiety about the Wuhan coronavirus, German authors cited a situation in which a visitor from Wuhan transmitted the coronavirus infection to others without having exhibited any symptoms herself, which, if true, would make the odds of containing this virus much, much harder.
Turns out, though, that the person who transmitted the virus did have symptoms.
But the authors of this report hadn’t spoken to her directly; they just took the word of people who claimed to know that she was asymptomatic.
So, sure those authors deserve strong chastisement.
But the NEJM deserves equal approbation because surely, the first question any editor should have asked in this potential game-changing occurrence is: Well, did you speak to the person in question?
What kind of shoddy third-rate journal would publish a study in which the authors had not actually contacted the person they were writing about?
Answer: The NEJM.
So why the NEJM do that?
The NEJM would say it’s because we need every bit of news about this virus out there ASAP.
I would say that that was a secondary reason to the primary reason: In the dog-eat-dog world of publishing, the NEJM was just too keen to be the first to publish this news.
Awfully shoddy stuff.