Beijing's Useful Idiots | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Beijing's Useful Idiots

But even though Petrovsky has excellent credentials — professor of medicine at a prominent Australian university, author of more than 200 papers in scientific journals and founder of a company funded by the US government to develop new vaccine technologies — I was still anxious when my story went global. His original document had been posted on a pre-print site, so had not been peer reviewed, unlike if it had been published in a medical or scientific journal. These sorts of sites allow researchers to get findings out quickly. Petrovsky told me his first attempt to place these seismic findings was on BioRxiv, run by prominent New York laboratory. But it was rejected; eventually he succeeded on ArXiv, a rival server run by Cornell University. Last week, however, he told me this important origins modelling paper had finally been accepted by Nature Scientific Reports after “a harrowing 12 months of repeated reviews, rejections, appeals, re-reviews and finally now acceptance”.

This acceptance is one more sign of the changing political climate as suddenly it is deemed permissible to discuss the possibility that the virus causing havoc around the world might have emerged from a laboratory. Petrovsky has had to endure what he calls “the legitimacy” of his paper as a peer-reviewed publication being denied for a critical 12 months — and he is far from alone. “I have heard all too many tales from other academics who have been equally frustrated in getting their manuscripts dealing with research into the origins of the virus published,” he said.

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