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The barriers to academic publication for work that challenges the ‘official narrative’ on Covid-19

Our paper about the “1 in 3 people with Covid-19 have no symptoms” claim has had (at time of writing this) 4093 reads since we posted it on researchgate on Friday, and 336,755 impressions to the tweet about it. The video summary has been watched by 7,422 people in 2 days.

But, this was the response we got less than 24 hours after we submitted it to the BMJ:

“Thank you for sending us your paper. We read it with interest but I am sorry to say that we do not think it is right for the BMJ. In comparison with the many other papers we have to consider, this one is a lower priority for us. We do not send out for external peer review manuscripts whose subject matter, design or topic do not meet our current priorities and are unlikely to make it through our process.”

Even more bizarrely, neither the medRxiv or arXiv sites (where we routinely post pre-prints of our research) would accept the paper. MedRxiv said:

“Thank you for submitting your manuscript to medRxiv. We regret to inform you that your manuscript is inappropriate for posting. medRxiv is intended for research papers, and our screening process determined that this manuscript fell short of that description.”

while arXiv (which initially said: “Your article is currently scheduled to be announced at Fri, 9 Apr 2021 00:00:00 GMT”) quietly changed the status of the article to “on hold” as the submission “was identified by arXiv administrators or moderators as needing further attention.” UPDATE: we now have the following response:

"Our moderators have determined that your submission is not of sufficient interest for inclusion within arXiv. The moderators have rejected your submission after examination, having determined that your article does not contain sufficient original or substantive scholarly research. As a result, we have removed your submission.Please note that our moderators are not referees and provide no reviews with such decisions. For in-depth reviews of your work, please seek feedback from another forum. Please do not resubmit this paper without contacting arXiv moderation and obtaining a positive response. Resubmission of removed papers may result in the loss of your submission privileges"

Compare this with what happened in April 2020 when we first investigated the Covid-19 data. Whereas our latest work shows that Covid-19 'case' numbers have been exaggerated and that mass testing of asymptomatic people is counter-productive, at that time we were actually concerned that

a) the numbers infected were being UNDERESTIMATED and b) the data was being skewed by the fact that ONLY people with extreme covid symptoms were being tested (and hence we argued for the need for more random testing).

These views were not considered threatening to the "official narrative" and of course random testing WAS widely implemented after August. We had no problem getting those articles published in academic journals (see e.g. here and here are some of our other articles on Covid-19)

But things are completely different when you challenge the "official narrative". Given that even researchgate has been censoring such articles it is possible that our latest paper may be removed. If so a copy can be found here.


  • Smashing the "1 in 3 people with Covid have no symptoms" claim and what it means aboiut the true number of 'cases'

  • Fenton, N. E., Neil, M., & McLachlan, G. S. (2021). "What proportion of people with COVID-19 do not get symptoms?"

  • All our blog posts on Covid-19

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