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Ian Birrell Explains the Science Media's Misreporting of Chinese Research

Has Chinese financing influenced publishing by prominent medical and scientific journals? And why are science writers disinterested in following the money?

Before the public became aware of the pandemic, Ian Birrell began filing stories on the COVID-19 virus, first reporting in February 2020 that China’s autocratic government silenced a physician who warned students about people getting sick from a virus. Three weeks after the government summoned the physician to a police station to sign a statement denouncing his ‘misdemeanour’ in spreading false rumors, China ordered a lockdown in Wuhan.

A year and a half later, Birrell has written dozens of stories, many now focused on the misleading articles and financial ties to China by science and medical journals which misinformed the public about the possibility that the virus could have come from a lab in Wuhan.

“I felt very nervous when I began, because you are going against the conventional wisdom and the scientific establishment,” Birrell tells The DisInformation Chronicle. “But I always thought that science journals and medical journals were incredibly reputable—checked things and were cautious. I have been really, really shocked to see how some journals have handled this.”