The prestigious medical journal The Lancet called out President Donald Trump on a “factually incorrect” point that he attributed to the journal.
At issue was Trump’s letter Monday to the World Health Organization, the United Nations-backed health body. The White House sought to shift blame to the health agency amid the Trump administration’s inadequate response to the virus at home.
In the letter, Trump threatened to halt the United States’ WHO funding in the absence of “major substantive improvements,” but the letter relied on faulty talking points.
Trump claimed that the WHO “ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal.”
But as The Lancet pointed out in a statement Tuesday, “The Lancet published no report in December, 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China.”
The journal’s first reports on the virus were published on Jan. 24, according to the statement.
“The allegations leveled against WHO in President Trump’s letter are serious and damaging to efforts to strengthen international cooperation to control this pandemic,” the journal said. “It is essential that any review of the global response is based on a factually accurate account of what took place in December and January.”
The journal’s editor tweeted the statement:
Pr Trump claims we published reports in Dec 2019 claiming a virus was spreading in Wuhan. Untrue. The first paper describing 41 patients with COVID-19 was published on Jan 24. That paper identified symptom onset of the first Wuhan patient as Dec 1. No cover up. Full transparency. pic.twitter.com/BISAgbp0sE
— richard horton (@richardhorton1) May 19, 2020
The statement is the second from The Lancet in recent days directly concerning the Trump administration.
An unusual editorial in the journal on Friday criticized the administration’s response to the virus and urged readers to elect someone in 2020 “who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.”