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Lancet slams Trump’s ‘incorrect’ coronavirus claims in WHO letter

London: In an embarrassment to the US President Donald Trump, a prestigious British medical journal refuted claims made by the former saying that the Lancet study cited in the letter to WHO about Wuhan outbreak does not exist.

The Lancet released a statement saying Trump’s claim that the journal published reports in December 2019 or earlier about a coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, were wrong.

“This statement is factually incorrect,” the journal said in a statement posted on Twitter. “The Lancet published no report in December, 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China.”

In his letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump had said the organization has “failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts”.

He cited a Lancet study in his letter, saying the WHO consistently ignored reports of the virus spreading in China in early December, including ones featured in The Lancet.

Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, tweeted: “Dear President Trump – You cite The Lancet in your attack on WHO. Please let me correct the record. The Lancet did not publish any report in early December, 2019, about a virus spreading in Wuhan. The first reports we published were from Chinese scientists on Jan 24, 2020.”

The Lancet said it first published reports on January 24, 2020. The first report described the first 41 patients from Wuhan, China, diagnosed with Covid-19.

The journal noted that the lead scientists and physicians on the study were from Chinese institutions and “worked with us to quickly make information about this new epidemic outbreak and the disease it caused fully and freely available to an international audience.”

Trump’s threat to WHO comes at an extraordinary time when the pandemic has killed more than 90,000 Americans.

The Lancet said allegations leveled against the WHO in Trump’s letter were “serious and damaging”.

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